Saturday, December 20, 2008

Singing (Raw)

I am not traditionally a particularly confident singer. After years of working at it, I now feel fairly confident as a singer in improv shows, but really the only contexts in which I feel comfortable singing in front of another person is in a rehearsal or onstage in front of a paying audience. Yet, I still can’t quite bring myself to sing along to the radio with my girlfriend in the car. I’m getting there, but still. Or, as another for instance, last night a big group of us were playing Rock Band and steadfastly avoided having to take a turn as the singer.

As an indicator of how far I’ve come in my singing, Saturday before the show we stood in a circle and did a note matching exercise. I hate this exercise. I’m not good at matching notes. I have a natural tendency to harmonize. I’m not one to ever sing in public, but I certainly did my share of singing along to my favorite songs in the car or alone in my room growing up. Then one night in college, I was drinking with some friends late at night after a show (after my first public improv performance actually) and I was singing along to a song and the friend of mine sitting next (who had voice training) was amazed that I was singing the harmony to the song perfectly. I had no idea. That, incidentally, is one reason I don’t like to karaoke that much, because when I sing along to songs I harmonize with them. When you do karaoke you’re supposed to actually sing the notes. I don’t know what the notes are, I just know the harmony.

But the point is we did this note matching exercise. One I have suffered through before in the presence of several of the people I was about to suffer through it again. The way the exercise works is, one person sings a note and everyone in turn around the circle matches it in pitch and tamber. As usual, it comes around to me and I miss the note, but my friend would point up or down to tell me where to go to meet it (because of course I was usually singing the 5th). The interesting thing is though, as pointed out to me by another friend in the circle, when I moved up or down to try and match, I would move exactly one note as opposed to some random distance. That, my friends, is amazing. I’ve come a long way.

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In 1789, the governor of Australia granted land and some animals to James Ruse in an experiment to see how long it would take him to support himself. Within 15 months he had become self sufficient. The area is still known as Experiment Farm. This is my Experiment Farm to see how long it will take me to support myself by writing.