Friday, December 19, 2008

Are You a Madrigal, Vince Gill or Squeaky McSqueakerton?

You all know I'm not a "strong" singer.

I can carry a tune, as long as it's within a four-note range, which means "Mary Had a Little Lamb" could totally be "my" song, if it weren't for that one pesky high note. I'd love to be able to sing harmony, but I'd also love to be able to sing melody.

There is, however, one song in which I can occasionally sing harmony in a couple of places: The Eurythmics' Winter Wonderland, which has become a Christmas classic for that reason. (I'll bet you didn't know it had become a classic because I can sing harmony to it, but it's true.) I can't carry this harmony throughout the whole song, so I have to give it my Ethel Merman all during those brief shining moments. It is a feast for the ears. Why do you look so doubtful about that assertion, O cynical one?

Lately, I've noticed that everyone seems to be able to sing harmony. I'll be in church, and someone will sing regular harmony, which I guess is alto, but then there's another phenomenon going on, a "high harmony" where people sing like Vince Gill up-high-on-that-mountain.

Now, if you are one of the talented ones in the congregation, I don't blame you for expressing the gift God gave you. You go, Vince or Vincette.

But when a vocally-challenged person such as me gets between you altos and you Vince Gills, we are in a no-man's land, and we are lost and skeert to sing.

When this situation happens to me, I can't follow the melody anymore, because a whole different song is in my ear. I can't sing harmony because my voice is ... not bilingual. It's sort of illiterate.

So sometimes I just stand there and try to meditate on the words, but I get distracted by all of the choral gymnastics going on around me.

The Christmas season, of course, brings out the madrigal caroler in everyone, so my lack of ability is underscored even more at every holiday event.

So, are you a loud harmonizer? Or, if you are melodiously challenged like me, do you ever feel overwhelmed by harmonious surround sound?

Speaking of Vince Gill (see about 400 words up there) my mother would like a song of his for Christmas which she thinks is called "Hands Down," but I'm not having any luck finding it. If you are a fan (of Vince, not my mom) do you know of any title that sounds similar, or a chorus that might have that refrain?

And now, I bring you a very representative sample of my singing, first sent to me by Annette of Annie's Eyes, which you only need listen to a few seconds to understand how I sound and feel in church:


Dorothy Champagne said...

What about when your husband and children can form their own band and all I could qualify for -might- be back up dancer. I feel your pain!

Dena @ Green Acres said...

I normally just mouth the words at church, because I can make a noise, but it is not joyful. The other night I was watching the Faith Hill Christmas concert on tv and I decided to sing along with it. Hubby was in the kitchen opening a can of soup when one of my daughters in the other room hollared out "Oh man, is mom singing again?" Dear hubby said "No, that's just the can opener". :-/

Mel said...

this is my theory on singing, I sing no matter what LOL...drives my family crazy, because despite the name Melodye (think my parents had high hopes) I can not carry a tune at all. It sounds good in my head though the only place singing matters!!

Thanks for the great start to my Friday!!

Cathy Davis said...

When the kitty started "talking", it grabbed my dog's attention. I thought she (my dog) was going to attack the screen!

I'm a semi-strong soprano (in my day...) meaning I don't necessarily hit the notes but I can only sing melody. I get all confused when someone else is singing something different (harmony). So, I definitely feel your pain.

I hope someone can help you with the Mom/Vince Gill dilemma. I don't know enough about either to help :P.

Have a great day!

Greg C said...

You sound much better than I do. I can only sing base so when I try to follow along and the notes get too high, I have to drop down an octave so I sound like a deep roller coaster. I know the people around me hate it but I still enjoy singing. I do know all the base words to Little Drummer Boy though; Rum pum pum, Rum pum pum. :)

Chatty Kelly said...

We are sister singers. I can sing as long as everyone is the same. Once those harmony people start oh no!. At least I can sing and clap at the same time (We go to comtemporary service.) My husband can't and claps on the off beat driving me crazy.

Rach@In His Hands said...

Looks like the storm didn't knock out your power!
I cannot harmonize one single bit. I sometimes forget that and then try to and I fail miserably. I need to just stick to the melody!
Oh, and I'm sure you do not sound like that cat!

Smilingsal said...

I feel so sorry for that poor kitty, crying so pitifully, and the JERK keeps filming.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like it might be 'til The Season Comes Around Again. Maybe???


Susanne said...

Oh, you just described my singing experience to a t. I am you! My mantra is "Make a Joyful Noise Unto the Lord". That totally qualifies us! LOL.

For some reason there is a couple songs that the praise and worship people like to do that is in chipmunk heaven. I'm not sure why they won't transpose it into a more average singing Joe's key. But those are really interesting when they're sung. I know I can't be the only one. Because there is lots of eye-closed/no singing going on.

Kim said...

I am more convinced than ever that we are twins separated at birth. You nailed it, girl! Exactly how I feel in church when I try singing with all the "choral gymnastics" going on around me.

When he was 5 my son informed me that "If you were in the choir, they'd fire you."

And at age 9, he asked me to not sing when standing next to him in church because I made him go off tune. He suggested I lip sync.

LOVED the kitty video. Yep, that's me, too. Squeaking and skeert and wanting OFF!

Beverlydru said...

I am the choral gymnast who is driving you crazy. You can probably hear me all the way from Florida. It's an affliction I have. I LOVE it when I sing in a pew between 2 people who are singing different parts than me. Barbershop quartet here I come. Only if I sit with my family, that ain't gonna happen. I think I embarrass them - imagine that. I figure God & I are happy and I am willing to provide ear plugs for my neighbors. I will have your clean pair ready. My husband buys them by the box. I'm not kidding. (Well- he is a builder and wears them for work, but he uses them regularly at other events too.) We're a pair.

a Tonggu Momma said...

This post had me rolling because my voice is... not bilingual either. I am especially skeert to sing in church, mostly because I can't sing alto (since it doesn't follow the melody), so instead I sing tenor - sort of.

Mocha with Linda said...

I love to sing. Used to be in the choir and in college was even in a girl's quintet for a while.

You can't be as bad as my sister who is not even in the same building as the key the song is written in!

As for that cat, I wish it would come catch the mouse that is driving us bonkers!

Susan said...

Oh, how precious...

And yes, I could relate!!!


Heth said...

I'm with ya, I'm with ya.

Becoming Me said...

I'm a whisper singer. My voice is horrid so I open my mouth wide and proper and look like I sing like and angel, but I whisper...I'm a complete faker!

PJ said...

I think my younger son could relate. We have always been a family of singers. I've sung alto (not all that well, but alto none-the-less) since I was knee high to a grasshopper. I was the oldest and most able to do so. When grandpa, uncle and mom are all preachers and pastors, you just DO! I always believed my sister had the soprano voice -- higher than mine. But I've discovered that I have the soprano voice, she should have been singing alto all along. She does it much better than me.

Anywho, my younger son has struggled with music -- singing that is. I'd never thought about someone being confused if there are two different harmonies going on around her. You have raised my empathy bar.

But not all that much. Mostly I'm just laughing. Especially at the cat!!!

fransmomma said...

i'm one of those loud harmonizers. the joke about me with many of my friends is that i have a song for everything, and i pretty much do...and i sing it.
so i apologize on behalf of all the bi and trilingual singers out there for making you skeert to sing out loud and strong.
the bible says make a joyful noise, so i guess as long as its joyful and noisy, it doesnt matter what it sounds like. :)

skoots1mom said...

well, just how precious is that kitty...finding its voice..

I love harmony...I sing alto and soprano...and only "descant" (a high-pitched line for one or more sopranos above the normal soprano melody of a hymn tune). They originated in Gregorian chants, and later Athelstan Riley, who compiled collections, stated "The effect is thrilling; it gives the curious impression of an ethereal voice joining in the worship...and those who hear it for the first time often turn and look up at the roof!"

I just wanted to share that since you had noted how you had felt when you heard the descant.

have a gr8 weekend! Here's to your singing...God doesn't hear our voices, He hears our hearts!!

Debbie said...

We have a small study group from church that meets in my house and I dread the singing part every week. I cannot find the key, no matter what. It is painful, I tell you.

Lois E. Lane said...

I enjoy harmonizing, but it's usually out of necessity. Ever notice that too many song leaders at church sing in keys that are best-suited for THEIR voices and not the congregation's as a whole? Curious.

Jodi said...

I can't sing although I love to.

Ummm, that Scottish Fold kitten has to be one of the cutest little kittens I've seen.

annie's eyes said...

How did I miss this? You and I are in the same boat. I hear it. I just can't quite get it out the same way. So, I try. And then, I hear it. And...well, it's bad. I blame it on allergies. :) Love, Annette