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← Singer Instructional for Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir 2011

Video 2 for the Virtual Choir 2011

Eric Whitacre talks through the track 'Sleep', and gives the tips you need to sing the track perfectly.

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Showing Revision 1 created 11/26/2012 by Amara Bot.

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  3. >> ERIC: Hey gang! Eric Whitacre here - and
    here we go again. For this version of the
  4. Virtual Choir we will be singing Sleep; a
    piece that I wrote in the year 2000. The very
  5. first Virtual Choir was Sleep, but that was
    really just a test to see if the concept would
  6. work. We took a big step forward with the
    second version, which was Lux Aurumque, and
  7. now we go back and do Sleep, but this time
    for real.
  8. Alright, so now let's get into the music.
    Beginning with the first page, page three:
  9. "The evening hangs beneath the moon". This
    is something I want you to think about during
  10. your entire performance - that is diction.
    The dedication to these gorgeous consonants.
  11. "The-ee eve-ning hangs be-neath ..." - there's
    the potential for little lovely sounds on
  12. every one of those beats. The second concept
    that I want you to keep throughout the entire
  13. piece is this sense of legato. So that instead
    of going from chord, to chord to chord, we're
  14. singing in long, fluid, unbroken lines. When
    we hit "beneath the moon," make "moon" the
  15. most perfect "ooh" you possibly can. Same
    thing with the "silver thread on darkened
  16. dune", with "closing eyes and resting head"
    ... make sure here that you stagger breathe
  17. through this so that you can breathe anywhere
    else in that phrase quietly, but don't breathe
  18. "resting head" - make that unbroken. "Know
    that sleep is coming soon" and again, a perfect
  19. "ooh" vowel.
  20. Then at the bottom of page four; "Upon my
    pillow safe in bed" - let this flow openly,
  21. freely, and again a legato line, not note
    to note, and make the entire climax of that
  22. phrase the word "bed". "A thousand pictures
    fill my head", nice and gentle to rise up
  23. out of the texture here. "I cannot sleep my
    mind's aflight", "aflight" - this is all about
  24. you. Bring that out there. "And yet my limbs
    seem made of lead". It's essential on the
  25. word "lead" that you cut off exactly where
    it's written, so basses you'll notice that
  26. you cut off on beat three, baritones beat
    four, tenors on beat one of the next bar.
  27. The idea is that we're taking the chord "lead"
    and then sort of making it evaporate one note
  28. at a time from the bottom up until we're all
    singing very delicately.
    Then "if there are noises" - nice little crescendo.
  29. Same thing "in the night". Then "a frightening
    shadow", give me a nice 'f' on "frightening",
  30. and again on "flickering light" we can paint
    the idea of a flickering candle light with
  31. that 'f'. Altos when you come in "then I surrender"
    maybe a little louder, be a little bit more
  32. present. Then lots of diction here and just
    lovely simple sounds. Make sure you have a
  33. real dedication to where the crescendo and
    the decrescendo is written to each of your
  34. individual parts. It'll make the texture sort
    of come alive if we all do that as written.
  35. Then page eight; "what dreams may come both
    dark and deep". "Wha-t drea-ms may co-me"
  36. - again there's another one; "dre-ams may
    co-me both dark and deep". Ladies; "flying
  37. wings and soaring leap" save, save, save that
    crescendo - we just want to build, build the
  38. energy so that by the time we rich forte we're
    ready for the breathe "as I surrender unto
  39. sleep", and then here just the freest most
    open sound you can make "dark and deep ...".
  40. Then when we get to the big climax "as I
    surrender unto sleep", especially ladies,
  41. instead of a "ah" just think of a long tall
    "ooon" vowel and soar over the top of this.
  42. Not too much vibrato but a good healthy clean,
    clear sound. We come all the way down through
  43. the top of page 10. Then in sixty-three "sleeeep"
    - a nice crescendo decrescendo breathe in
  44. and a breathe out. Same thing on the next
    one. Then I'd love to hear a good solid crescendo
  45. from baritones and tenors, and then eventually
    from the altos and the sopranos going into
  46. the downbeat of sixty seven. We come all the
    way down, and then when we start the meditation
  47. on eleven "sleeeep ... sleeeep" let each one
    diminuendo - poco a poco - and by the time
  48. you get to the seventh or eighth reptition
    of it, you should really be at almost a whisper
  49. - almost gone. You should only have to eight,
    maybe nine, maybe ten repetitions of it singing
  50. as soft as you possibly can. And when you
    finish, hold for just a moment so that we
  51. can co-ordinate everyone's ending together.
    Just hold the still face.
  52. I guess that's it! Let's make some music.