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Sussex Harmony Members and Visitors

Quire Singing

The singers in the West Gallery quires did not have trained voices.  Similarly we do not necessarily expect our members to have had any singing lessons since they left school.  It helps if you have sung in a choir of some sort of other – church, choral society, barber shop or folk group – but if you haven’t, that should not be a deterrent.  Nor do we make you have an audition before you can join in the fun.  All we ask is a straight, blending voice with a reasonable range.  Come along to hear (click Our Music) what we sing; if you like it come along (click Contact Us) for a taster session.

The music is mainly written for four parts: soprano, alto, tenor, bass (SATB):

Treble (Soprano)

A light, high voice able to sing easily to top G or at a push B flat (originally sung by boys)

Alto

With a range from around A below middle C to F.  Usually sung by women, but without vibrato.

Tenor

A voice with a range of about one and a half octaves from C to A. Falsetto not required except as a party piece. Women also welcome!

Bass

The lowest male voice – can growl down in the depths but rarely required to go above middle C.

In the early days, the air or tune was usually in the tenor part. However, as women joined the quires the trebles often took the tune over.  One of the joys with West Gallery is that it is flexible.  If you are a treble but like the tenor tune, sing it an octave higher.  Indeed we get a really rich sound when men and women sing the same line at a different pitch.

Almost all our music is in harmony where the different voices are singing different parts.  There are no solo roles in this form of music.  Some harmonies really make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end. Anthems and psalms can be elaborate with different voice parts coming in at different times.  You will even occasionally hear some sounds that remind you of Handel or Haydn,  That’s not surprising as some of the village composers must have heard this music being performed in the great cathedrals and were not averse to a bit of plagiarism.   

Whatever your previous singing experience, we can help you learn to enjoy and perform this music. Our Music Director, Rachel, has run many workshops that have been attended and enjoyed by people whose recent singing experience has been limited to their own showers, the pub or a sing-a-long to the Sound of Music.  If you cannot read music do not worry, we will always help you with your part and you will soon find your way around. We sing with enthusiasm rather than 100% accuracy.

 

John Wesley’s directions to singers:

Sing lustily and with good courage.  Beware of singing as if you were half dead, or half asleep; but lift up your voice with strength.  Be no more afraid of it being heard than when you sing the songs of Satan.

Sussex Harmony in association with the West Gallery Music Association.

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