It’s been a little while since I’ve posted about myself and Sunday (when nobody much is listening) is as good a time as any to post about that. How about posting about music?
I’m a third generation professional musician. My grandmother was billed in vaudeville as “The Irish Nightingale” and my mom was billed as “Baby Colleen”. I’m told that my mom’s father had a good baritone voice. My dad had a nice baritone voice. My mom had a beautiful, trained soprano voice. She could have made it as an opera singer but, then, I wouldn’t be here, would I?
I’ve got a good tenor voice. Tenors with high notes who can sight sing are always in demand so there’s some likelihood I could have made it a fulltime career if I’d been so inclined. I’ve sung at more than 400 weddings. I’ve sung at baptisms (I’m certain I sang at Susie Cusack’s baptism and I think I sang at John’s—it was a long time ago). I’ve sung at funerals. I’ve sung for parties.
I took piano lessons for something like 10 years. I was a lousy student. I played piano (and guitar), too, at some of those weddings, baptisms, funerals, and parties. I’ve played with stage bands and, occasionally, jazz bands. I’d be good if I practiced which I don’t.
I play guitar, piano, string bass, banjo, and organ, pretty much in that order. I play other instruments poorly.
For nearly 30 years I conducted a church choir. I’ve conducted chamber orchestras, combos, and choirs. I’ve arranged and composed music. I’m particularly proud of a setting of the hymn tune Thaxted I arranged for chorus in the style of Virgil Thomson.
For many years I sang regularly with a pair of friends (baritone and alto). We sang Renaissance and Medieval music a capella. You have no idea how much Renaissance and Medieval music for trio voice there is. It was during this period that I learned to sing in Doh clef. Modern music is (mostly) written in G clef and F clef. That’s how sheet music or orchestral scores are notated. In Doh clef the position of Doh (the base of the scale) is marked and the position of Doh on the staff changes to avoid having to write above or below the staff. Very tough. And a lot of Medieval music is written in Doh clef.
Someday I’ll tell you about some of the adventures I’ve had in singing at some of those weddings. In one case I actually sang at a wedding, conducted the choir, and catered the rehearsal dinner and reception. But that’s cooking which is another story.