Sunday, February 13, 2011

I am not a soprano

I love to sing. Not everyone loves to listen to me, but I have always loved to sing. I started to play the piano around the age of 5, and was soon improvising and writing my own simple melodies to sing and to play. The ability to hear and sing different harmonies was encouraged by a musical grade school teacher and ever since then, I have preferred the tension and sweetness of two or three voices to one. I sang second soprano throughout high school and college, that middle voice that is often the hardest to identify in a musical piece, but the one that is in the closest proximity to the other voices.

On occasion, I was thrust into the soprano role, just because I could hit the notes, even if they were a bit on the light and airy side. I never had much strength in my singing voice, and this frustrated me as well as various musicians and soundmen who had to compensate for my lack of volume. I always wished that I had more power in my singing voice. In some ways, it seemed so different from my speaking voice, which was much deeper and had plenty of power.

And then, somewhere in my twenties, I realised that I had been singing in my falsetto all these years. Because the parts that are available to girls are either soprano, second soprano, or alto, I learned to sing in all these ranges. However, all of these required me to sing mostly in that soft, breathy voice that is known as falsetto, and I had a pretty well developed falsetto range, about 2 octaves' worth.

When I began to sing with my real voice, the voice that matched my speaking voice, I discovered that my true range is more like a tenor. Since I had never really exercised this deeper singing range before, it took a few years to build up some strength, stamina, accuracy, and tone. I am forever grateful to all my fellow musicians and friends who bore with me in that awkward transition time. Finally, I felt like it was the real me singing, and not someone trying to sing what everyone else was singing and never quite getting it right.

I don't have the most beautiful singing voice you will ever hear; it cracks on high notes sometimes and doesn't have a very big range, but it is truly mine - it sounds like me. And when I put my heart into a song, it transcends my vocal abilities, because music is never about being able to sing it all perfectly. It is about giving myself. And in order to do that, I have to sing with my true voice. The voice only I have. The voice that God put inside of me to sound different than anything and anyone else. The voice that is missing if I do not open my mouth. Sing!

Here are some short video clips from musicians for your inspiration:

Dave Stewart: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o5PE160Tl2I

Washuntara: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2VPHiSDrlZ4&feature=related

And, go out and buy Happy Feet and watch it!

This is a picture taken on a snowy evening in Alexandria, Virginia. There is nothing like walking and singing in the snow!

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