Anna Fraser – Singing – Salt Spirits

Resources:

Salt Spirits Program Note (1)

Salt Spirits (r.2) – Rehearsal Score

Salt Spirits – Tutti Verse 1

Salt Spirits – Soprano Verse 2

Salt Spirits – Soprano Round

Salt Spirits – Alto Verse 2

Salt Spirits – Alto Round

Melodic Exploration: Melody and Round with Augmentation

Main themeVerse 1: Learning the melody phrase by phrase

Exercise:  Speak the words and feel the shape of the words in your mouth

A liquid line where the sky meets the salt, a crust that hides the sleeping mass of life.

The iron souls stand apart and yet as one, and Seven Sisters dreaming…

ancient and vital spirits offering strength and wisdom.

tamarlpa                       kumpilpa

  • Practice verse 1 at a slower tempo and sustain all voiced consonants longer than usual – linger longer on them/sing on them allowing them to resonate fully, connecting to the vowel sounds
    • Note where voiced and unvoiced consonants can be used to ‘alliterate’ or colour words in the phrase – make the words sound like their meaning
    • Sing on the voiced consonants to create a beautiful vocal line

Exercise:  Can you sing the melody of Verse 1 at the original tempo and still sustain the voiced consonants?

  • Write down/read through the lyrics and highlight the important, descriptive words in the phrase
  • Remember when singing the phrase to draw out the important, descriptive words in the phrases and not emphasise week syllables or unimportant words like ‘and’ and ‘the’
  • Practice the lines by choosing to emphasise different words each time to discover you own creative and interpretive shape to the phrase
  • Sing the vowels in a sustained way – they should be bright and clear (vertical height/space in your mouth); connect the vowels to the consonants to create an unbroken vocal line

Exercise:  Tongue roll or lip trill the melody and allow the air to flow freely – this technique uses more air so if you can get through the phrase while rolling/trilling then you will find it easier to sing when you return to the words.

Questions:

    • Can to get through all the phrases without running out of breath?
    • Are you taking a deep enough breath before each phrase? Initial intake of breath should be half the length of the first phrase, say 2 sec intake.

Exercises: Sing the melody again on ‘ng’ to assist with producing a forward focused sound production – this technique also restricts the air flow so when you return to the words you will find it easier to sing but you should be producing a more focused tone.

Questions:

  • Is it easier to sing on ‘ng’?
  • Can you sense the extra buzzing in your nose?
  • Word painting – find ways to colour and use the vowels/consonants to create interest and colourful vocal qualities across the phrase or on specific words. This can be done by:
  • Shaping a word or phrase with your breath e.g. ‘liquid line’ – make the sound more liquid and use the ‘l’s
  • Bright forward focused vowels e.g. ah in ‘sky’ and ‘hides’; ee in ‘sleeping’ and ‘spirits’
  • Crisp and clever consonants e.g. ‘crust’ and ‘sleeping’; ‘apart’ and ‘ancient’ – make them sound like their meaning
  • Use alliteration (matching consonants) and assonance (repeated ‘s’ sounds) creatively e.g. ‘Seven Sisters’
  • tamarlpa and kumpilpa are indigenous words of the Wangkatha people meaning ‘prepared, ready’ and ‘hidden’
  • Kevin has cleverly used the vowels and consonants in these words by to give a sense of their meaning – tamarlpa set high in pitch (open sound and sense of readiness); kumpilpa set low in pitch (hidden and more hushed vocal sounds).

Exercise:  Practice speaking these words and enjoy their meaning finding different ways to express them in a spoken way at different volumes

  • ‘ah’ vowels should match in colour and be a vertical shape in your mouth – connect these to the voiced consonant (sustain the ‘m’) to smoothly connect the word in a smooth way.
  • Use the initial consonants, ‘t’ and ‘k’ of the words to articulate and annunciate the word clearly.

Sing the words on the set pitches and use varying dynamics to compliment the meaning of the work – louder (forte) for tamarlpa and softer (piano) for kumpilpa

Round: Feel the Spirit of the Lake – Learning the melody phrase by phrase

Exercise:                  Speak the words and feel the shape of the words in your mouth

Feel the spirit of the lake

Hear its echo in your soul

You can draw upon its strength

Let its wisdom guide your own

  • Practice the melody at a slower tempo and sustain all voiced consonants longer than usual – linger longer on them/sing on them allowing them to resonate fully connecting to the vowel sounds:
    • Note where voiced and unvoiced consonants can be useful to ‘alliterate’ or colour words in the phrase – make the words sound like their meaning
    • Sing on the voiced consonants to create a beautiful vocal line
  • This counter melody is sung as a round – a simple, clever compositional technique where the same melody is sung by both parts but starting at different times i.e. alto starts then soprano comes in shortly afterwards.

Exercise: Practice singing the round and imagine there is another part singing the round with you – find ways you could challenge the other part make it sound more like an echo; use dynamics to shape the phrases (crescendo and diminuendo – getting louder and softer) – when the parts are sung together these types of effects coordinated between the parts would draw out more important words, highlight word painting and create a Mexican wave effect of dynamics ?

  • Augmentation – Kevin has added one more, clever compositional trick to the round
  • Slowing down the speed of the words associated with the melody (NB the tempo of the music doesn’t change) by making the length of the written rhythm longer.
  • The augmented round is still sung on the same notes and the alto part starts the augmented version of the round first while the soprano part keeps singing the faster rhythm of the round – so it sounds like there are two independent melodies but they are still related to each other
  • When singing the augmented version there are even more opportunities to sing a more legato/smooth vocal line and connect all the wonderful descriptive consonants to the vowels
  • The soprano part joins in with their own augmented version – it is a few notes higher (a fourth) but the melodies are still starting at different times (this is special round called a canon when the round melodies start on different notes) – clever Kevin!
  • Remember when singing higher in your range (as the sopranos need to do) you need even more breath support – use the vowels and consonants to connect the breath with your vocal production and always create a smooth phrase.
  • Echo ending – the final part (or tag) of the piece is an echo effect on the words ‘your own’
    • Both parts sing the same notes and repeat the ‘echo’ 4 times each
    • Find ways to use the words as an echo – as the sound gets further away from you there is a natural diminuendo or dying away of the sound

Ensemble Repertoire Practice

Go back and mark some of the detail in your score as I demonstrated in the video whilst learning the melodies – it will help coordinate singing your part as an ensemble such as:

  • Placement of our consonants on specific beats
  • Dynamics to create contrast between the phrases
  • Creative use of voiced and unvoiced consonants to draw out the meaning of the words and connect the voice with the breath

Research and extra learning opportunities

  • Practice the indigenous words featured in the piece and create a soundscape with these words and other atmospheric whispering/environmental sounds
  • Draw your own salt spirit (research images of the sculptures featured at Lake Ballard)
  • Create your own ‘map’ or sculpture layout on the salt lake and draw creative patterns of visitors tracks as if viewed from above. Remember: the pattern of the sculptures leads you back to your starting point. What type of shape does your visitor create in the salt crust?