Sunday, November 09, 2008


Concert went well, we sounded good.

Pete's advice about singing high notes worked, because the high Fs in Messe Basse didn't bother me (and I usually crack or squeak a bit). But working really hard in rehearsal on Thursday, singing for two hours (or something like that) at Meadowhall on Friday, then rehearsing hard all afternoon Saturday was obviously pushing it a bit when my throat hasn't been right all week, because by the time we moved onto the Requiem I was having problems.

The third movement, Dies Irae, is fairly loud and shouty and it was at that point I felt my voice going wrong. Most of my low notes were fine. The high notes were a bit strained, but okay. Middle range? Rubbish.

For those of you who aren't singers, you basically have two parts to the voice: head voice, and chest voice (there are other ones, but those two are the main ones). I'm not going to expain properly what they are, but on the higher notes you use head voice, and the lower ones you use chest voice. If you sing up or down a scale you'll find your voice "breaks" at a certain point as you change over from one voice to another (for me this is around the B above middle C, which is pretty normal for an alto - a soprano has a higher break). As you train your voice you learn how to blend the two voices together over these notes to hide the break - so as I sing upwards and approach the B I can gradually increase the proportion of head to chest so by the time I get to the D I'm pretty much completely using head voice. Make sense?

So what happened to me was, I lost the ability to blend. My sweet(ish) choirgirly high notes were fine, and my rich low notes were fine, but if I sang upwards I'd crack, and if I sang downwards I'd go all quiet and breathy. Which was pretty useless since the majority of the Requiem's in my middle range. Oh well.

And I woke up this morning with a really sore throat - hurt to talk and swallow, and my tonsils are swollen.

So I've avoided talking as much as possible, and tried to drink lots. I have a rehearsal tomorrow, and I'll probably end up sitting there and not singing because I don't want to damage my voice any more.

I'm actually scared stiff of getting vocal fold nodules and not being able to sing for a long time. Better to rest now I think, rather than lose my voice altogether. Hopefully I'll be all recovered soon.


  1. I commend you for having the ability to sing! I sound like a dying cat when I try...

  2. Mozart Req is just the biz! Must be one of my all time favourites. Well done, and particularly for holding it together despite all that rehearsing. I completely understand about losing notes. I tend to lose my top ones and depend on the tenors around me managing to hang onto theirs!

    I've tagged you. Please don't feel obliged.

  3. Mozart Requiem is actually my second-favourite piece, I love it. It loses out to Dvorak Stabat Mater though, which is just amazing.

    Bobbie, so many people tell me that! But I think if you're enjoying singing then it doesn't matter what you sound like. Except in public... ;)