Friday, May 25, 2007

Searchin' a cappella

I know, I'm supposed to be on self-imposed blogging hiatus until my grades are turned in, but this doesn't really count because I'm patiently waiting for my toddler to drift off to sleep. She often requests that we sit in the "rocky" seat to get her nap going, and she now consents to let me bring the laptop along. The convergence of two great technologies - wireless internet and the rocking chair.

Anyway, I'll also blame my distraction on Geoff Edgers for posting yet a third time about the Boston POPSearch submissions on YouTube. I don't want to look, but I can't stop myself. Two things. 1) I'm sure others have commented on this in the American Idol context, but all these unaccompanied song renditions drive me crazy. It's not just that I happen to be a collaborative pianist who might be able to sell you a pulse and help center some tonal centers. OK, maybe that's part of it, but it's mainly an aesthetic thing.

I understand that it requires extra skill to sing successfully a cappella, so there is a wheat/chaff separation thing going on here; but the performances are almost never really even remotely successful because those underlying harmonies and rhythms matter, especially in some of the more sophisticated American Songbook tunes with lots of subtle chord changes. I always feel adrift listening to these ungrounded melodies. It similarly drives me crazy to hear instrumentalists audition for college without accompaniment. I'm sitting right there! Just hand me some music. (I remember hearing a Mozart flute concerto audition this year where the girl silently counted out a 16-bar orchestral interlude. Oh, but let's not go down the audition-stories road today. Save it for the dog days.)

2) What was the other thing? Oh yeah, when I scrolled down to one of Edgers' previous POPSearch posts, I noticed a post I'd missed about a 70's era album of children singing pop classics. Very sweet and, by odd coincidence, it inspires me to post an old recording of my then 6-yr-old singing "Yesterday." As if to prove that her old man isn't really necessary, she handles it pretty well a cappella. You could tell she had a good ear when she recited Madeline at age 2. Now . . . back to grading.

(By the way, did they intentionally shoot Keith Lockhart's video invitations to be as unprofessional-looking as possible in order to inspire the YouTube in all of us? The camera NEVER stops moving. It's exactly what videos look like when my daughter gets her hands on the camcorder. I honestly have nothing against Mr. Lockhart; he's clearly a very talented musician who's worked hard to build a wonderful career, but he always looks so uncomfortable on camera to me. Yes, I'd look much more uncomfortable, but he's the conductor of the Boston Pops. Always seemed odd to me. Have you seen him try to hold a microphone? Maybe it's just that he was an incredibly wooden participant in the worst Peter and the Wolf product I've seen.)

Back on hiatus . . . now! (Yes, the toddler's been asleep for awhile.)

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