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Love! Love! Love!

Welcome to the first Your Accompanist Newsletter of 2008. We hope that you all enjoyed fine voices and musical festivities over the winter, but we're writing to you today to celebrate the arrival of Spring.

As it's Valentines day, there's some love in the air... We've got a series of beautiful Valentines eCards for you to send some musical romance to your loved ones. We've also got an idea for something to give to a musical sweetheart.

In this issue we're introducing you to a brand new way to be inspired by our collection of accompaniment MP3s: the seasonal songs category.

Brand new: the first part of our ABC of singing terms to help you brush the cobwebs off your singing vocabulary.

We look forward to receiving your feedback and suggestions for future editions.

Best wishes from

 

The Your Accompanist Team

PS We're on Facebook! Become a fan, make contact with singers and singing teachers around the world, discuss songs, singing, rehearsing, your voice, tell us what you'd like to see in the catalogue and feedback on this newsletter.

 

Newsletter

Spring Issue
February 2008


In this issue:
What's new to the catalogue?
Singing with the seasons
Gifts for singers
Mozart's Songs
Praise for BBC2's Gareth Malone
Send a musical Valentine
Singer profile: Markus Wiskirchen
New: ABC of singing terms
Heard about Choir Wars?
About Your Accompanist


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Latest AddtionsWhat's new to the catalogue?

Here are just some of the latest additions since our last newsletter.

16th Century English Lute Songs:
Dowland - Flow My Tears
Campian - Author of Light

Baroque:
Salvatore Rosa - Star Vicino
Pergolesi - Nina
Scarlatti - O Cessate
Purcell - The Knotting Song
Purcell - Love Quickly is Pall'd
Handel - Let The Bright Seraphim
Handel - O Had I Jubal's Lyre
Handel - Scherza Infida - Ariodante (8:16)
Handel - Scherza Infida - Ariodante (10:02)
J S Bach - Bist Du Bei Mir

Classical:
20 songs by Mozart and Alleluia from Exultate Jubilate

Romantic:
Schubert - An Den Frühling (D283)
Schubert - An Den Frühling (D587)
Schubert - Der Jüngling Am Bache (D192 & D638)
Schumann - Seven Songs of Opus 104
Schumann - Marienwürmchen (The Ladybird)
Brahms - Die Mainacht
Brahms - Sandmännchen (The Sandman)
Brahms - Vergebliches Ständchen (The Vain Suit)
Brahms - Ständchen (Serenade) Op 106 No. 1
Fauré - Automne (new slower speed)

We hope you enjoy singing to them as much as we enjoyed recording them for you.

Latest additions: www.youraccompanist.com/latest

Collections: www.youraccompanist.com/collections

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History of songMozart's Songs

Opinion seems to vary about what's now described as the 'Mozart Effect'. This is the suggestion borne out by some research that says listening to Mozart will make you smarter. The original experiments were based on observations of subjects before and after listening to a 'Mozart song'.

Even if you're reluctant to accept the theory, having heard them, you can't deny that Mozart songs themselves have more than just charm. There are not so many of them - 31 in all (well, forgive him, he was busy!) - but they are all delightful miniatures in their own right.

They don't fit easily into categories like 'aria' (although some are described as 'ariettas') or even 'Lieder' - which should just mean 'songs' but in English, has come to mean European songs of the Romantic period - which Mozart predates. So maybe it's better to call them as German speakers do, 'Kunstlieder' or 'art-songs' - settings of lyric poetry for solo voice and piano that are not intended for stage performance.

Art songs then, but Mozart's songs are disarmingly artless. Well over half of them are straightforward 'strophic' songs like 'Das Kinderspiel' (his last song) with repeating verses. The rest, however do anticipate the many complexities of the through-composed songs that were to follow in the Romantic period. Who knows how much this relatively small part of Mozart's work paved the way for all of these?

Many of his songs, typically, seem to have been written quite quickly. Unbelievably, sometimes two have the same composition date to the day, as is the case with 'Abendempfindung' and 'An Chloe' – 24th June 1787. Now, how smart was that?

One thing about Mozart Songs is sure - not one of them is easy. Maybe listening to them could just possibly make you smarter but singing them most certainly will!

A few for you to try

Die Alte. How many songs do you know that has the direction, 'with nasal tone’? This Old Woman tells us how it wasn't like that in her day (that would be nearly three hundred years ago now) and you can practically see her finger wagging in the first four bars of each verse.

Die Zauberer - where the singer tells how Damon brought a little 'magic' into her life...

Try the glorious Abendempfindung and resist shedding that tear along with Mozart's friends who, when prevailed upon to do so are in return assured that he will return in spirit and unveil glimpses of Heaven...

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Teaching TipsSinging with kids

Praise for BBC2's Gareth Malone

Our congratulations to BBC2's Gareth Malone whose sterling efforts to get teenage boys to sing strikes resonant chords in the hearts of those who have also tried... and terror into the hearts of those who have not.

The Choir: Boys don't sing is a reality TV documentary which charts the journey of a lone ranger choirmaster and his attempt to cajole, motivate and train a 100 strong chorus of mainly sporty boys to a standard fit to perform at the Royal Albert Hall.

Gareth Malone - The Choir BBC2

This edition's teaching tip is to tune in to observe his lessons on Friday evenings for the next three weeks at 9pm, BBC2!

View the choir online (You Tube)

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Singing Terms The Your Accompanist ABC of singing terms

A is for 'Aria'

An Aria is a vocal piece usually from an opera or oratorio that's more formal in its structure than a song. 17th &18th century variations include:

Aria da capo: aria usually in 3 sections with the middle one contrasting - often in relative minor key - and the last section being a repeat of the first.

Aria di bravura (or 'di agilità'): one with a lot more showy and difficult bits.

Aria di portamento: one that calls for slow, full-tone delivery to show off a beautiful voice with a less obtrusive accompaniment. ['Portamento' can be another word for an appoggiatura (ornament). It can also mean 'carrying' the line from one note to the next with slight 'scooping'].

Aria parlante: showing off the singer's eloquent diction and dramatic ability rather than a display of vocal quality.

Arietta: a 'little aria' - a shorter and simpler one (except in early 18th cent French opera where it was an 'ariette' and often more elaborate).

Arioso: when a declamatory or recitative passage has to be delivered in a 'song-like' fashion.

Aria di sorbetto: the nickname given to 19th century equivalent of the music for the commercial break. The point - usually near the end of the opera where an insignificant aria was given to an insignificant character while the ice cream sellers made their last bid to sell their goods. An unenviable spot for the aspiring singer but if you could cover that then surely you'd have the confidence to take on anything.

View Aria Accompaniment MP3s

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Seasonal SingingSinging with the Seasons

Every season brings its musical rewards.

Whether it's Spring, Summer, Autumn or Winter, we look for ways to express the responses that they evoke - joyful, reflective, sad or celebratory. Many composers, moved by these changes too, have given us some wonderful songs.

The joy of spring
In Spring – whether from March to May or September to November - after the chill of winter, everyone looks forward to sunshine and flowers. Mozart’s 'Sehnsucht Nach Dem Frühling’ (The Child’s Desire for Spring) says it all… Komm, lieber Mai, und mache die Bäume wieder grün... ‘Come, Sweet May and make the trees green again’. Little Lottie’s fed up playing indoors with her toys because the garden’s so muddy... Even though we’ve had fun in winter, we children want you now to bring us flowers, birdsong …and better weather!

Find seasonal songs from Your Accompanist's catalogue to inspire singers and listeners alike: Spring.

Many will be very familiar but may we make a special mention of some that are heard less often today – particularly the Victorian gem, William Sterndale Bennett’s May Dew and also Carl Nielsen’s wonderful Apple Blossom.

View accompaniments for the songs of spring

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Automne by Gabriel Fauré
Some of us though, are moving into autumn now and won't be disappointed with the songs that have been prompted by 'this season of mists and mellow fruitfulness'. The one that immediately comes to mind is Fauré's superb setting of Armand Silvestre's poem 'Automne'.

Autumn with your misty skies and desolate horizons, fast fading sunsets and pale dawns.
I watch your melancholy days flow past like the waters of a mountain stream.

Borne on wings of regret - that if only we could have our time again - my spirits, day-dreaming, are wafted over the enchanted hillsides where long ago my youth smiled brightly.

In the clear sunlight of conquering memory, I see the undone bouquet of roses gathered up, flowering again and in my eyes, rise the tears that my heart of twenty years had forgotten.

Slower version now available.

Listen to Automne by Gabriel Fauré

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Send a musical Valentine

valentine eCardsShare the love! If you've been looking for a way to catch a certain-someone's eye this week, try appealing to their ears.

We've recorded special versions of some of the more passionate songs for you to send Valentines wishes to your sweethearts, whether near or far, instantly...

They don't cost a penny and its completely paper and post - but not passion! - free gesture: www.youraccompanist.com/valentines

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Gifts for singers

Sound Asleep Pillow is ideal for singers familiarising themselves with an accompaniment

Anyone who's ever tried using headphones in bed on will know it doesn't make for particularly restful dozing.

We found this great gadget for singers, students and music lovers alike: a pillow with a built in speaker that connects directly to an MP3 player - absolutely ideal for anyone who's familiarising themselves with the accompaniment or vocal line of a song. What a great idea!

We think this little something for the bedroom would make the perfect valentines gift for the special singer or music lover in your life (along with an accompaniment MP3 Gift Voucher, of course).

Available from Amazon. Put one on your wishlist!

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Singer ProfileSinger Profile: Markus Wiskirchen

Markus Wiskirchen is a member of the 80-strong Köln Chor, one of the most well respected amateur choirs in Germany. With up to 5 large scale concerts a year, Markus has an active schedule of rehearsal and perfomance, but was kind enough to take time out to tell us a bit more about his life in song.

Markus Wiskirchen

How did you get into singing?

I imbibed it from my infancy. My family used to sing all the time and still does: at birthday parties, at home, in choirs, on stage at Carnival events, even while water skiing. When I was 10, I joined a boys' choir and sang with them until my voice broke.

Tell us about your favourite song.

There are too many favourites, but one song is particularly special to me: Mozart's Ave Verum. When we performed it with the boys' choir in a church some people started to cry silently. It's a touching piece, I don't think they were simply moved by the pure Soprano voices of the little boys.

Tell us about a recent concert you performed in.

On January 19th in Cologne’s Philharmonic Hall we sang Handel’s Messiah, the version for big orchestra from Sir Eugène Goossens. Our choir was accompanied by the “Staatsorchester Rheinische Philharmonie” from Koblenz. [We were there. It was great! - ed.]

Last year the KölnChor was the choir in the epic Lord of the Rings Symphonie by Howard Shore in the Cologne Arena - that was quite an experience!

Read the full interview

KölnChor's website: www.koelnchor.de

If you would like to be featured in a future singer profile, please email: profiles@youraccompanist.com

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Heard about Choir Wars?

We're very excited. 2008 is a great year for singing!

Not only has the British government launched a £6 million drive to promote singing in primary schools, but the BBC has just announced that the 2008 Saturday night talent show to keep us all on the edge of our seats will see choirs large and small give it their all for a place in the final of the Radio 3 Choir of the Year competition: Choir Wars!

This entertainment extravaganza is set to be the largest talent show ever. In the world. Ever.

They're starting the search now for quirky choirs, classical choirs, gospel choirs, acapella groups, even barbershop singers to take part in the competition.

We'll be keeping an eye on the early developments as they unfold and looking for way to support the choirs taking part. Ideas from you are warmly welcomed?

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About Your Accompanist

We make real piano rehearsal tracks for singers. All tracks are recorded by a real pianist on a real piano in a single take. You download them directly to your PC in MP3 format. They can then be transferred directly to any portable MP3 player (such as an iPod or, Sony MP3 walkman, Archos box or iRiver), or burned to CD.

They are ideal for soloists, ensembles, choirs and classrooms, for those who sing professionally, recreationally or secretly. The quality of the musicianship and sensitivity of the performances means that the accompaniments make great listening, even for those who don't sing along.

Our catalogue covers a large part of the standard repertoire and is growing all the time. We bring you a wide variety of genres and composers, and aim to cater for all vocal ranges and levels of proficiency. Each track can be sampled on the site so you can be sure you've got the piece you want.

We believe very strongly in the importance of music in education, and have a great deal of experience in the field. We hope to support music teachers, promote singing in the classroom and provide an effective low cost solution for singing teaching situations where good quality live accompaniment is not readily available.

All of our tracks are available for instant download, so if we've already got the piece you want, there's no need to wait for a CD via post. If you'd like something we don't already have, or you need it in a different key, let us know. If it's in the public domain and we can get hold of the music, we could have it online for you quite quickly.

Read more in our User Guide: www.youraccompanist.com/userguide.

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