Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Artistic Adventures of An Ardent Amateur: Vocal Voyage

I've spent the last two weeks digging through every piece of sheet music I own, and prowling the internet in search of inspiration. I'm trying to prep a variety of audition pieces, so my vocal coach and I have been seeking the perfect songs.

There's a lot to consider when choosing an audition piece. First of all, it's got to sound good in your voice. You can love the song to bits, adore the lyrics, worship the composer, but if it doesn't suit your voice, you're screwed. My singing voice is a syrupy sweet soprano. Which tends to rule out about 90% of all the music I have ever truly loved. But, hey, what can you do?

The next concern is the accompaniment. I couldn't play my way out of a paper bag, but I have enough piano skills to know when something's really tough, and if it's too much to expect a decent accompanist to be able to sight read, it's out. (Thus the universal Sondheim ban.)

Ok, so you've got something that sounds good in your voice and that can be easily played, but has it been done 80,000 times? Are the auditors' ears going to bleed if they hear that song one more time? Out.

Alright, so it's not too commonly done (you hope, though there's no way to know for sure) but is it the right style? You can't audition for Avenue Q with a song from The Sound of Music. (Well, you could but it'd be super weird.) And you can't try out for Madame Butterfly with a ditty from Spamalot. In fact, if it's opera you're after you should really sing a song in the same language as the show, which means you should have in your repertoire not just Italian but French, German, English...

Tired yet? No? Great! Because now you have to consider how much of your range the song displays. And if it's a musical theatre piece it better showcase your acting chops as well. And remember that you only get a few seconds of an auditor's attention before they've made up their mind about you, so make sure the piece you pick (or at least the measure at which you start it) gets straight to the point. No working your way up to that musical climax, it's gotta be compelling from beat one.

Singing auditions terrify the crap out of me. I have fainted, vomited, and flat out fallen on my face (literally! It's a funny story, I'll tell you sometime) at singing auditions. The only thing more torturous is the dreaded Dance Audition, which is a recurring specter in my nightmares. But though I avoid dance auditions like the plague, I have yet to similarly eradicate their vocal cousins from life. Because I actually like to sing.

Anyway, fascinating though this detour into my psyche certainly is for you, the point of writing this whole piece was to have an excuse to show you this:

Yes, this is one of my new pieces. I sing it about a half an octave above Ms. Minnelli's key (and I'm no Liza), but, nevertheless, it works for me. Just don't go telling anybody, or everyone will start singing it and I'll have to go through the whole song selection process all over again!

1 comment:

Annie Bierma said...

The thought of you singing this song makes me giddy! SO fantastic!