I recall being in a choir with a young lady called Paloma Bruce – now Paloma Horlor (who can be listened to here). She was talking about how she could not sing in one of her main choirs any more. Her voice was too big, and could not blend with the voices of other choristers, and she was required to make the choice between quitting the choir, and changing her technique in order to sing in the choir. The second choir confused her. She gave up the choir. I guessed that she was so good that she was almost too good for the choir. I figured that I could never be that. I guessed that it would never be a problem for me.
I felt rather sorry for her. In my teens, I LOVED choirs. My part was always soprano 1, and it felt kinda awesome being able to pull out the high notes above the clef when no one else could. I adored the thrill of a big forte, hearing all the music thick and loud around me. Singing my first mass with a massive orchestra in the Wellington Town Hall gave me thrills.
My now ex-choir had lots of very awesome repertoire, a great culture, and many lovely people, so it should be fun to sing in. But it is not.
So now, I have made exactly the same decision as Paloma, for almost exactly the same reasons. My voice is bigger than the other sopranos in my now ex-choir. Like, quite a lot bigger. I have to work very hard to keep my voice blended in with the other voices. My voice is dark. The second biggest voice is bright. We clash quite a bit, and the better my technique is, the more we clash. I am singing quietly by my standards, even when the music is technically forte (loud). SInging quietly is not bad in itself, but its impacts are interesting.
The issue is that my main focus while singing with the choir is controlling and restraining. It is not singing well. It is not even using good technique. In fact, I have been told to swallow my sound more in order to blend, a habit which I have been training myself out of.
I have been lucky to have an understanding conductor who says that I should sing for myself. But it is mutually exclusive to do this as well as blending in with everyone else. And it should be a choir, not a choir with an overtone of me.
It does carry through into my own singing on my own time. I restrain, I attempt to control. I am scared of singing anything. I am terrified of the notes above the clef that I love so much, even through they are easily within my range. I think part of that is the fact that they come out big. My B is massive and I am not sure that I can make a small one, so I force it out with a strangle, which could injure me at worst, and which sounds like a horrible cat dying at best. So singing in the choir is not easy for me.
The main issue is that I am in a journey of vocal discovery right now. My voice is dark. It can go high – but I am not sure how high. It can go lower – again, I am not sure by how much. It can be taught to do perfect pitch – maybe with some limits. There is some repertoire that works for it better than others. I know that Mozart if one of the best composers for it, but I am not sure what else it can do.
While it is being held back, and changed for others, I cannot find out what it is, and work on polishing it.
I am sad about quitting this choir. I am happy about my new journey of vocal discovery.
So time for some vocal adventuring. I wonder where I will end up.