Summer Workshops

Summer is here. In France, as elsewhere, that means vacation time, time to get away, sometimes far and sometimes just a breath away. Paris seems to empty itself for the 2 months of July and August.  Taking on the aspect of an abandoned amusement park, quietly breathing as those left behind bask in its light and its beauty. No need to share.  For those visiting Paris or for those hanging on for quieter times to get away, although you might find a variety of your favorite show closed for the holidays, there is always something to do. Paris Plage has activities for both kids and adults, families, single and couples. There are workshops, and outdoor activities, music, theatre and games. A little investigation will turn up a wealth of summer fun in a city seemingly emptied of it inhabitants.

If you are looking for vocal action, I will be giving workshops throughout the summer, on weekends, once or twice a month. You will find the information below.

Jazz Singing and Improvisation – Daylong Workshop

Sunday, Jun 21, 2015, 10:00 AM

Ateliers du Chaudron
31 passage de Ménilmontant, 75011 Paris, FR

1 Jazz Singers Attending

Pour célébrer le début de l’été et la fin du trimestre, venez participer à un voyage musical de la voix. Venez découvrir la joie et la magie du “circle song et du travail corporel. On travaillera le rythme, le scat, le chant modal, l’improvisation sur les accords, ainsi que la rôle de la respiration dans la stabilité et la libération rythmique.Cet…

Check out this Meetup →

https://www.facebook.com/events/366111253585248/

Nature Boy

Je voudrais remercier Amina, une de mes élèves, pour ce vidéo du groupe vocal Norvégien “The Real Group,” et leur version de “Nature Boy.” C’est une chanson très émouvante et continue qui continue d’inspirer à la fois des instrumentistes et des chanteurs/ses.

Thanks to one of my students, Amina, for introducing me to this Norwegian vocal group and their version of “Nature Boy.” It is a song whose message has inspired many, and, judging from the response in my workshops, still resonates.

Et voilà une autre version de “Nature Boy”par Le Jazz Vocal Ensemble de Université Howard.

Quel pouvoir la voix! Et des voix ensemble, en harmonie, peuvent créer de la musique qui parle au coeur. Le chant en close harmony et la liberté vocale sont durement acquis, mais qui donnent beaucoup de plaisir et une grande satisfaction.

Aussi noté bien le “bassist” vocal – incroyable, non? Nous chanteur/ses devons apprendre à mieux écouter les bassists et  le rôle dans un groupe. Même “un bassist” vocal function de même manière qu’un bassist instrumental. Un bon bassist peut être le vent qui vous porte vers des improvisations libres et assurés. Voilà une idée, écoutez les enregistrements avec certains des meilleurs des bassists, trouvez une espace tranquil, et écoutez, simplement écoutez. Mais prenez garde, ça prends du temps, mais le retour est inestimable.

And here is another great vocal ensemble version from  Howard University’s Jazz  Vocal Ensemble.

The power of the voice! And voices together in harmony create luscious, soul stirring music. Tight harmonies and vocal freedom are hard won pleasures. 

But notice the bass “player,” incredible, no? As singers we need to learn to listen to the bassist, whether vocal bass, as here, or an instrumental bassist. A good bass player will be like the wind beneath your wings as fly into improvisation.

Gather together a load of songs with some of the best bassists, find a quiet place, and just listen, just listen and a whole new understanding will come to you. But beware, it takes time but the rewards are precious.

Which bassists? Well, in my next post I will make a few song suggestions that show off some of the best bass stylists.

Freedom

Freedom is an emotionally charged word. It carries within itself a history of tears, pain, laughter and joy, strife and peace. Some will lay down their life for it, while others die fighting against it, because, as James Baldwin remarked about equality in “The Fire Next Time,”  the problem with freedom is “freedom for whom.” I think there are two broad categories of freedom, public and personal – our relationship to others, and our relationship to ourselves, the group and the individual. What is common between them is the notion of responsibility and limits. i am of the opinion that freedom is not the same as chaos. We impose limits on ourselves and others.

What does this have to do with music, specifically so-called “free” music? As I stated, freedom for me has limits, limits which are often self-imposed. When I hear the music of Coltrane or Ornette Coleman, I hear rhapsodies of liberty within the contours of frameworks – chordal, group, individual. Choices refined in order to communicate an idea. Not just any note, but THAT not, not just any embouchure, but that embouchure, not just any grouping, not just any sax player, or trumpet player or drummer or bassist, but that one, and that one and that one and that.

Cécile, one of my students, wanted to be completely free she said. That was the kind of music she wanted to make. I responded that freedom has its walls, and that it is in that space that wonderful things can happen as we examine the walls to the left, doors to the right, the sky above, the ground underneath, we come to understand what we can do, because we have to try. How many ways can I sing the note A? How many colours can be heard in the pitch we call C? How does crescendo and decrescendo affect the emotional impact of a word, etc. The musical experience is a journey, an exercise in freedom, a building site where deconstruct, yes, but also re-construct.

The song I am posting today is the fruit of a workshop I did with Cécile Castera. I played , she sang. Do you see the limits we put on ourselves, the choices made either for personal reasons or for the integrity of the group? Let me know what you think.

 

Anytune practice app

Just a quick post to share with you an app that I find wonderful and quite helpful for us musicians. It is called “Anytune” and exists in both a free and a paid version. With it one is able to slow down, loop and select passages of music for practice. It is great for learning songs, parts and melodies. Unfortunately it is only for OS platforms (Mac, Ipad, Iphone). But for those who possess one or other of Apple’s products, I strongly advise you to try it out.

L’Introduction à La Théorie et des Jeux Musicaux

Je vous propose quelques sites gratuits qui peuvent vous aider à mieux comprendre les éléments de base de solfège. J’inclus aussi des sites de jeux musicaux de l’écoute – “ear training.” Trois sont en anglais , les autres trois en français. J’espère que vous les trouviez utiles.

http://www.earbeater.com

http://www.sonicfit.com

http://www.apprendrelesolfege.com/exercices-rythmiques

http://www.musictheory.net/lessons

http://www.solfego.fr

http://www.musiclic.com/solfege.asp

Éléments de notation musicale

La notation musicale sera vue dans le chapitre suivant. Nous avons choisi de présenter le cœur de la musique — la constitution des mélodies, des harmonies — avant la notation formelle, puisque la notation a été créée pour servir ces mélodies et harmonies. Mais nous avons toutefois besoin d’un certain nombre d’éléments de notation pour présenter les gammes et intervalles.

Note
Une note représente la hauteur et la durée d’un son ; il s’agit d’une figure ronde, de couleur noire ou blanche, avec ou sans hampe, qui est placée sur une portée (voir ci-après). Plus la note est haute, plus le son est aigu. Comme la valeur rythmique ne nous intéresse pas, nous utiliserons ici toujours des « noires » (note de couleur noire avec une hampe simple) ou des « rondes » (note de couleur blanche sans hampe).
Les notes sont appelées : do (ou ut), mifasolla et si. Ces noms ont été donnés par Guido d’Arezzo et sont les premières lettres des 7 vers de la première strophe de l’Hymne de Saint-Jean Baptiste, un chant grégorien latin. Auparavant, on utilisait des lettres — de A pour la à G pour sol, système encore utilisé par les anglo-saxons.
Portée
La portée est un ensemble de cinq lignes, qui sert à repérer la hauteur d’une note. La note peut être sur une ligne ou sur un interligne (entre deux lignes). La première ligne est la ligne du bas, la cinquième ligne est la ligne du haut.
Si une note est trop aiguë ou trop grave pour être représentée sur la portée, on utilise des lignes supplémentaires.
Clef
La clef est un symbole placé en début de ligne qui sert à donner la référence de la hauteur. La clef de sol            
15px-GClef.svg
indique que la note située sur la deuxième ligne est un sol. La clef de fa   18px-FClef.svg  indique que la note située sur la quatrième ligne est un fa.
Altération
Une altération est un signe placé devant la note et qui sert à augmenter ou diminuer la hauteur du son. Le dièse, noté ♯, rend la note plus aiguë, le bémol, noté ♭, rend la note plus grave, et le bécarre, noté ♮, annule une altération. Il existe aussi le double-dièse, noté ♯♯ ou DoubleSharp.svg, et le double-bémol noté ♭♭.
La correspondance entre les figures et le nom des notes est donc :
Image

Resonance + vocal exercises

Over the past few weeks I have seen marvellous advances in the vocal prowess of my workshop participants. And it is not only their voices that are improving but also their musicianship. Why? Because once you start working with your “instrument,” whether it be saxophone, piano, or voice, you begin to understand how things fit together, how musical things work with each other. As you work to “fit” your voice – your instrument – into the musical landscape, knowingly or unknowingly, you begin to ask questions – questions about timing, harmony, pitch, etc. This is a wonderful and fulfilling journey. Thank You.

Last week we did some exercise on resonance. Resonance is very important for a singer. VERY! Resonance is that magic tool that adds warmth, color and a beautiful tone to your voice, as we’ll as giving it power. Your vocal chords vibrate to produce sound but it is your resonators that give that sound depth and individuality. Each voice is unique due to a variety of factors, resonance being one of the most important. Resonators are the areas of the throat, mouth and nasal cavities. Think of reflecting sound. Imagine vibrations that reflect, bounce and amplify. Work on your resonance and watch in amazement how your voice improves. As always it is important to support the breath and to keep the mouth cavity relaxed and wide with the soft palate lifted, but not so high that it creates tension. Find a position that is expanded and relaxed.

I am including some exercises to get you started. (They are in french.)

vocal resonance

Happy singing, every day

Gwen

Sweet Honey

There are so many great vocal groups, old and new, still together or dispersed. Over the next few weeks I will post some of my favorites. Today it is Sweet Honey In The Rock, an american female vocal group founded in 1973 by Dr. Bernice Reagon. “The name of the group was derived from a song, based on Psalm 81:16, which tells of a land so rich that when rocks were cracked open, honey flowed from them.” Although contemporary in style, their music is rooted in the spirituals and hymns of the African-American experience.  But let them speak for themselves.

N.B. I have updated the music files as well. so check it out