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REPOSITIONYOURSINGERS:REFINEYOURSOUND

PresentedbyDr.CharleneArchibequeattheACDANationalConvention2005
ToMakeAnyChoirSoundBetter:
1.
2.
3.
4.

Teachallsingerstousetheirvoicescorrectly
Improveyourconductingskills
Choosetherightliteratureforyourchoir
Trydifferentstandingpositions

FactorstoConsiderinChoosinganEffectiveStandingPosition:
1. Acousticsofthevenue
Maximizethehallsacoustics;Riserposition(proximitytoaudience,infrontofcurtains,
etc.);Reinforcementofovertones(whichpositionsmaximizethebestsoundsinthechoir)
2. Sizeofstage
Ambientspacing(giveeveryonetheirownspacetomovein,heareasily,seetheconductor
clearly,spreadoutasmuchaspossible;nosingershouldsingintothebackofsomeones
head,hair,back,etc.;optimumspaceneededbetweensingersis4feet;numberofrisers
(usefloorandaddedchairstogetextrarowsinfrontofrisers)
3. Numberandtypeofsingers
Voicematchingforoptimumsingingconfidenceandblend;beautyandstrengthofeach
voice;colorandtimbre
4. Musicianshipofsingers
Bestears;partsecurity;pitchaccuracy;intonation;vibrato(noduelingvibrato)
5. Literaturebeingperformed
Construction(homophonic,polyphonic,antiphonal,solos);equalbalance
6. Factorsuniquetothechoir
Weakersectionsplacedinmiddleorfrontofformation;numberofsingersineachsection;
7. Conductorschoices
Densityandsonorityofdesiredtone;idealsoundshape(pyramid,doublepyramid);Weston
NoblesuggestslisteningtoallvoicestoidentifytheONEvoiceyouwanttotypifythe
sectionssound.Buildyoursectionsaroundthatperson.
8. Appearanceofsingers
Facialexpression(orlackthereof);physicalinvolvement;height(avoidaverytallsinger
standingbyaverynottallsingertheycantheareachother)
9. Specialneeds
Singerswithstanding/mobilityissues

TypicalPerformanceFormationstoConsider:

1. Rows
2. Singlelinespreadacrossstagewith4feetbetweeneachsinger
3. Surroundsound(singingintheround)
4. Insections
5. Quartets
6. NoahsArkordoublequartetsinanystructure(SSBBAATT;STABSTAB;etc.)
7. AlternatingVoicesinRows
8. Horseshoecurve(widecurvewithstraightlineacrossback)
RehearsalPositions:Manyofthesepositionswillalsoworkinperformance.
1. Newmusiclearninginrowsorsections:
a. Bassesbehindsopranos;Tenorsbehindaltos
b. SBTAblocksections

c.

SATBblocksections;considershiftingrowseachweeksoeveryonecanbecloseto
theconductorsearatsomepoint.
d. Insamevoice4rowposition:sopranosinrow1,altosinrow2,etc.Againshift
rowsbytheweeksoeveryonecanbeclosetotheconductoratsomepoint.

2. RehearsinginCircles
a. onelargecirclearoundtheroom
b. menincirclearoundwomenscircle;andreverse
c. lowvoices(B&A)inoutsidecircle;uppervoices(T&S)ininsidecircle
d. Individualpartsinrehearsalcircles(IcallthisonePowerCirclesbecauseittends
toempowerthesingerstoworktogether).Ifyouhavechattysingers,constant
rovingbetweencircleswillprobablybenecessary.
e. 4rowsindoublecircleposition(Youcanhaveallsingersfacetothecenterofthe
circleoryoucanhavethecirclesfaceeachothertochallengepartandpitch
accuracy).Facetofacerehearsalisagreatwaytoworkblendandvowellocks,also.

3. Extracreditpositions
a. 2equalchoirsfacingeachother
b. 2rowsfacingeachother
PerformanceConsiderations:
1. Putmostbeautifulvoiceinthefrontaudiencehearsthatsoundfirst
2. Minimizeproblemsingersbyplacingtheminfrontofstrongsingersorattheedgeswhere
theydontinfluenceothersasmuch
3. Placethemostinterestinglooking(facialexpression,physicalinvolvement)singersinthe
mostprominentpositionssotheaudiencecanenjoytheirjoy
4. Facialexpressioninfluencesmanyelementsofperformance:intonationvarieswith
differentfacialmuscleinvolvement,facialexpressionindicatesasingersconnectedness
withthetext,rehearsalissingingforselfperformanceissingingforothers.
5. Usesingerswithbestintonationinanchorpositions
6. Separatesingerswhosevoicesdontblendorwhosevoicesclash(intonation,vibrato,etc.)
7. Changepositionsfrompiecetopiece(addressthevarietyofeachpiecewithvarietyin
position;thisalsohelpsthesingermaintainlooseandflexiblebodies)
8. Getsoloistsoutinfrontofthechoirsotheaudiencedoesnthavetosearchforthem.
UnusualPerformancePositions:

1. Whenonesectionisfeaturedmorethanothersinapiece:positionthatsection
prominentlybyplacingtheminasinglefrontrowandusingascrambledpositionforthe
restofthechoirinotherrows
2. Weaksections(thisexamplefeaturesweakaltos):dispersesopranosandbassesaround
edges;puttenors
behindaltos.

SBSBAATTAASBSB
BSBSAAAAAABSBS
3. Tenorsweak,withchallengingvoices:Hidetheworstvoicesinthebackandplacebest
voiceinfrontinatriangle
SSSBTTTBAAA
SSSBBTBBAAA
SSBBBTBBBAA

4. Whenyouhavetoomanysopranos(oranyotheroutofbalancevoicepart):
Placethatsectionalongthebacktworowsofchoirandarrangeotherpartsindoubleor
triplequartetsonfronttworows(assuming4rowposition)

Whensingingwithaninstrumentalensemble:

1. Keeplikepartsinthesamesightlines:Violin1insamesightlineasSopranos;Vn.IIwith
Altos;ViolaswithTenors;Cello/BasswithBasses
2. Positionchoirmuchhigherthantheorchestraorband:ChoironStagewith
Orchestra/BandinthePit;Choironelevatedrisersbehindtheorchestra/band;orbetter
yetplaceelevatedrisersinthepit(closertotheaudience)withtheensemblebehindthe
choir.
3. Althoughpositioningachoirandinstrumentalensemblecanbedifficult,itisworthittogive
themusicstudentsachancetoworkwitheachotheratsomepointintheirschooltime.
AdditionalConsiderations:
1. MaintainachoirsidentityasaChoir.Itshouldlookandfeellikeachoir.
2. Conductormuststandasfarbackaspossiblefromthechoirsohe/shecanhearcloserto
whattheaudiencewillhear.Theoptimumdistancefromthechoiris2030feet.
3. BesuretogooutintotheseatingareaandLISTENwhenperforminginanewvenue.
4. Havepeoplewithtrustedearssitinvarioussotsinthehallwhilethechoirisrehearsing
forfeedback.
5. Besuresingerscanheareachother.
6. Neveruserehearsaltimetomovevoicesaround.Preplanseating.Displaythenewseating
chartssosingerscanmovetotheirnewpositionsquicklyandindependently.Theexception
wouldbewhendoingvoicematching.
7. Missingsingers?Practicesingingwithoutthesingerinposition.Theothersingershaveto
learntoaccommodateforthemissingperson.Anentirelydifferentseatingarrangement
mightbenecessaryifcriticalanchorpositionsingersaremissing.