Singing Exercise: Octave Glissandi For Altos

This is an exercise in seamlessly changing registers, moving from one part of the voice to another. The aim should be a smooth sound sliding from one note to another, and back again. The exercise is probably easier to sing than to read about, so feel free to jump in, play the sound file and sing along. DON’T FORGET THE IMPORTANCE OF BREATH SUPPORT!

The first exercise is written for  altos. This exercise starts with a slide from the F below middle C, to the F above middle C. It then moves up chromatically, by semitone, finishing with a slide from middle C to C above middle C.  This range starts at the bottom of the alto range, as defined by the New Harvard Dictionary of Music, and finishes a tone below the top of the Alto Range

Octave Slurs for Altos 1

Octave Slurs for Altos 1 Sheet Music: .pdf

Ballad of 1891

This is a song about the 1891 Australian shearers’ strike.  The song has been arranged in three parts:
Words: Helen Palmer; Music: Doreen Jacobs; ©1950 Doreen Bridges

Sheet Music
Here is the definitive score, I’ve worked from, sourced from the Sydney Trade Union Choir, (STUC) in Cm.
Sydney Trade Union Choir Score (.pdf)

From this I transcribed individual parts.  Lyrics to be sung in unison, (or by male singers only), are in bold italics. Some numbered piano fingerings are included, along with guitar chords in the melody part. These are all .pdf files.
Melody/Soprano 
Alto
Baritone
I’ve also created a lead sheet, with just the melody line, transposed to Am. To get to Cm, use a capo on the 3rd fret..
Melody/Soprano Am

Lyrics
Lyrics (Word Document)
Lyrics (.pdf)

Practice Tracks (Instrumental)
Soprano/Melody

Alto

Baritone

All Parts

If aiming for the Sydney Trade Union Choir arrangement, perhaps the best thing to listen to is their stunning performance:

STUC Performance

Also, have a listen to two different Bushwacker’s Band performances.

 

One World, One Chance: A Song

I don’t know the provenance of this song. The two bits of sheet music I have found have the attribution, “Devised by Raised Voices of Climate Change Demonstration”, London December 3rd 2005. Tune: “Mayenziwe ‘Ntando Yakho”.

Full SATB Version

(Scroll down or click here for a simplified version)

Sheet Music: PDF
All Parts
Soprano or Melody
Alto
Tenor
Bass

Melody Alto & Tenor

Practice Tracks

As usual, good practice would be to practice your individual part and then test your mastery of that part using the “All Parts” track.

Melody

Alto

Tenor

Bass

All Parts

Melody and Alto

Version 1.ii contains a couple of piano fingering numbers, and the pickup measure is just the single quaver.

Simplified SATB Version

This version, for a smaller group of mixed voices has the tenor  singing the melody, along with the soprano, and the basses singing the alto line, (obviously an octave lower), with the exception of 3 notes at the end of lines 1 & 2, and the last line.

Sheet Music (.pdf)

All Parts
Soprano
Alto
Tenor
Bass

Practice Tracks: (Sung)

Soprano/Melody
(This track has a tenor voice singing, (an octave lower), over the soprano instrumental track.)

 

Alto
(Vocals start verse 2)

 

Tenor

 

Bass
This track has alternate bass notes sung at the end of lines 1 & 2, and the last line. Vocals start verse 2.

 

We Shall Not Give Up The Fight

A song from South Africa, in this incarnation,  inviting a unified and humanitarian response to the refugee crisis.

Original Sheet Music

Practice Tracks
On PC Right Click Title to Download
On Android Devices, Press and Hold to Download

All Parts

Soprano/Melody

Alto

Tenor

Bass

In Performance

 

Tolpuddle Man: A Song Arrangement

Here is an arrangement of a song by Graham Moore, a commemoration of the Tolpuddle Martyrs. Scroll down for sheet music and practice tracks.

The grave of James Hammett, who was the only martyr to return and live in the village of Tolpuddle.
The grave of James Hammett, who was the only martyr to return and live in the village of Tolpuddle.  Image By Poliphilo – Own work, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=33579213

The Tolpuddle Martyrs were a group of 19th century Dorset agricultural labourers who were arrested for and convicted of swearing a secret oath as members of the Friendly Society of Agricultural Labourers. The rules of the society show it was clearly structured as a friendly society and operated as a trade-specific benefit society. At the time, friendly societies had strong elements of what are now considered to be the predominant role of trade unions. The Tolpuddle Martyrs were subsequently sentenced to penal transportation to Australia.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tolpuddle_Martyrs

A massive protest swept across the country. Thousands of people marched through London and many more organised petitions and protest meetings to demand their freedom.
http://www.tolpuddlemartyrs.org.uk/

Practice Tracks:
On PC,  Right Click on Title to Download
On Android, Press and Hold Title: Choose “Save Link”

Note the verse is in unison throughout. with the Chorus in harmony. All practice tracks are in F major.

Melody; Key F Major

Alto

Tenor Instrumental

Tenor Sung

Bass

Bass Sung

Soprano, Alto and Bass Together: Key F Major

SATB

Sheet Music: PDF

Tolpuddle_Man_F_Melody

Melody & Chords; Key of E Major

Lyrics

Word Document: Large Font

PDF File: Large Font

TOLPUDDLE MAN by Graham Moore

Verse 1: Farewell to my family, it’s now I must leave you,
That far fatal shore in chains we shall see.
Although we are taken, do not be forsaken,
As brothers in Union we shall be free.

Chorus: They can bring down our wages, starve all our children,
In chains they can bind us, steal all our land;
They can mock our religion, from our families divide us,
But they can’t break the oath of a Tolpuddle Man.

Verse 2: To those who rule us, we are the dissenters.
“Do your duty; be thankful; don’t complain”, we are taught.
For God in His wisdom has divided this kingdom,
For few to have much while so many have naught.

Chorus:

Verse 3: As brothers together, with an oath we will bind us,
The labouring men in all England shall rise !
Though Frampton defamed us, they never will tame us.
Arise men of Britain; we will yet win the prize !

Chorus: They can bring down our wages, starve all our children,
In chains they can bind us, steal all our land;
They can mock our religion, from our families divide us,
But they can’t break the oath of a Tolpuddle Man,
No they can’t break the oath of a Tolpuddle Man!

Singing Exercises 3: “Tuning” The Voice

After making sure we are breathing correctly, and having warmed up our singing mechanisms, it’s time to tune the voice. Here we are going to begin to use the Kodaly Method,  developed by Zoltan Kodaly. Remember the Sound of Music?

The exercise below should be sung using the Solfege notes: “Soh, Me, Soh, Me, Soh, Me, La, Soh. Me.”  The European “Sol” is actually better for this, than “Soh”; it keeps the vowel, and therefore the throat and resonators more open.   If the exercise takes you higher or lower than you are comfortable singing, stop, but imagine the pitch of the notes in your mind. “Mental singing”.

Then repeat the exercise on vowel sounds.  A bright “ee”, is good to practice with, as is “or” as in “Gloria”.

Sing the exercise as a musical phrase, and try different volumes. Think of different emotions or experiences as you sing, and see how that can change the sound. By doing this we are connecting our inner selves to our voice.

Importantly, if the exercise on the practice track goes too high, or too low, drop out; don’t strain your voice.

Practice Track; To download:
On a PC, right-click the title and select “save as”.
On Android devices, press and hold the title.

So-Me-La-So-Me

Note that the Kodaly method uses a movable “Do” system, aiming at developing relative pitch, the ability to sing in tune in any key, as opposed to fixed “Do” systems.  See Solfège for more information.

Singing Exercises 2: Warming Up The Voice

After making sure we are breathing optimally in order to sing well, we need to make sure our vocal chords are working well, and that our voice is resonating across a comfortably wide range.

To begin with let’s quickly look at the basic mechanisms of singing, to give us an idea of why we might want to do these warm up exercises. Alexander Massey again:

So, after making sure we are breathing correctly for singing, from the diaphragm,  let’s start using the voice.

Standing up straight, stretch up high with your arms as you breathe in deeply, then open your mouth and yawn, gently using your voice, as your hands gently fall back to your sides,. Shake your hands when they get back to your sides to get rid of any tension.

Repeat this exercise, this time with a gently vocalised sigh, descending in pitch.

Repeat again, this time with an extended open “ah”,  /ɑː/ sound, (as in “far”).
Repeat using  open  “ee”,  /iː/, (as in “sheep”),
then “oor”, /ɔː/, (as in “door”),
then “o”,  /ɒ/, (as in “on”, except longer),
and finally “oo”,  /uː/, (as in shoot).

Next, standing tall, but without any sense of stiffness, making sure your knees aren’t locked, feet just a little wider apart than your shoulders, take a deep breath and make a siren sound, going from low to high, and back down again.

Let your voice fall as deep as it wants to go. I tend to start with an “ah” sound, and move to the “ooh” sound as I go up. Something like, “Waa-oooh”.

Repeat this exercise, increasing the number of sirens, up and down. This will encourage you to breathe deeply and correctly.

Finally, in this part, one siren, allowing yourself to aim at a higher pitch. How high can you go?

Next belly laugh. Take a deep breath, this goes without saying by now, and laugh like a Lord in the house of Lords, or Santa Claus, whatever works for you.  Then, repeat, with a more lady like laugh, using the higher part of your voice.  Make sure the laugh is coming from your belly, your diaphragm, with no constriction in the throat.

Having done all of this we have warmed up and relaxed, hopefully in a fun and relaxed manner, our breathing mechanisms, our voice box, (larynx and vocal chords), and the resonating areas in our mouth, face and arguably head. Now it’s time to “tune the voice”.