Today the September issue of Wordgathering is live, and my essay, ‘Sketching the Rose,” is the sole piece in the Music section! Here’s how the piece begins:
Summer can be a slow season for my barbershop chorus. We enter regional competition in April, and if our scores are good enough, we’ll compete on the international stage in October of the following year. Because we have eighteen months to perfect our competition music, we spend the summer months expanding our repertoire and just having fun–which is barbershop code for learning “tags.”
Tags are the last few lines of a song, stretched out and embellished with lush harmonies. At our regional competitions, the hotel corridors are filled with quartets singing tags. Established quartets and pickup quartets–groups that have competed for years and foursomes who have just met by the elevator. Because tags are short and catchy, most people teach and learn them by ear.
When we see “tag singing” on the rehearsal agenda, my fellow singers and I find our respective sections on the risers: lead, bass, baritone, and tenor. Even in an all-female ensemble, we still use the traditional part names from men’s barbershop–we can’t help that the male tradition was established first. As I step up next to the other baritones, our section managers form a quartet in front.
2 thoughts on ““Sketching the Rose” in the September issue of Wordgathering!”
An absolutely perfect piece.
I’ll share it with relatives in the Sacred Harp communities.
I really enjoyed this piece and never understood the 3 and 4 dimensions of AP or what is really meant. Your interpretations of the pitch you hear, feel are magical and very unique. Having read this I question is your musical hiatus now over? You must miss singing terribly. There must be a place for you to exercise your gift. Maybe a choral group less demanding of your time my renaissance daughter ❤️