Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.
The sopranos usually get to sing the melody. That’s the part that everyone recognizes, and that people will sing or him as they leave from a musical at the theater. In church music, there are melodies that have been used for many different hymns, melodies that are easily recognizable to anyone who grew up in church, as I did, and especially who began collecting hymnals, as I did.
That particular hobby began in fulfilling an assignment for hymnology class in college, but as I searched through used bookstores, I began to find some real treasures. I loved the depth of the words in many hymns, the richness of doctrine and the simple beauty of the poetry.
But I digress. For a long time, I just figured sopranos always got the melody part, and everyone else sang the harmony. I had a pretty good ear for harmony when I was quite young, often confusing other kids who were standing next to me. They didn’t know what I was doing when I would drop into the alto part and sing the harmony. I didn’t let their funny looks stop me, though, because I loved to sing. Being able to make the song more interesting by finding the harmony was a lot of fun.
I know some people who have truly lovely voices, but they have to memorize a harmony part. It isn’t in their heads. For me, the harmony just kind of writes itself in my head, and trickles down to my voice box. As I’ve aged, I’ve found that I’m not always right on pitch, though. That makes me very sad. What I used to do without even thinking about it has become less natural as the old vocal chords become quavery and unreliable.
Then I got into high school choir, and we sang a couple of songs in which the altos got to sing the melody! Amazing! I loved it, and I loved hearing all the other parts creating a beautiful sound over and under us.
Best of all, I finally figured out that altos could indeed sing solos. They just had to be transposed to a lower key, and there were music publishers who were putting out songbooks for low-voice singers like me.
Best of all, when I took music theory in college, I learned to do the transposing myself.
Melody doesn’t have to be high. It’s just the main theme of the song, the one that everyone else remembers. You don’t hear anyone going around humming the alto, tenor, or bass part. It wouldn’t make sense. You need the melody to be the basis for the song.
Here’s a favorite melody of mine: Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony, the main theme. Turn your sound all the way up for the first few minutes, but be prepared to turn it down as it heats up. It’s that weepy violin theme that I love.