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Archiv

Artikel Tagged ‘Vocal Line’

Local Blog #1: Made in Denmark

by Christian Ronsfeld (Aarhus, Denmark)

CRonsfeldMany people associate Denmark with smørrebrød, LEGO or H.C. Andersen. In the last 20 years Denmark also developed its own a cappella brand. “Made in Denmark” is a sign for extraordinary musical quality, innovation und sincere expression. Names like Jens Johansen, Vocal Line, Ørehænger and Postyr became inspiring figures of the international choir scene.

All these names have their origin in the city of Aarhus – a city of about 260.000 inhabitants, a city that is often called “the European centre of modern vocal music”. How can a comparatively small city like Aarhus have such a vibrant music scene? Which factors are necessary to shape such an environment? In the next months I will try to give some answers in my “Local Blog”. The title might remind you of Florian Städtler’s “Vocal Blog”. It was in fact Florian Städtler who asked me to report my time in Aarhus.

About me:

My name is Christian Ronsfeld, I am German and at the moment I am in the middle of my master studies in pop/jazz choir leading, singing and arranging at the Royal Academy of Music in Aarhus. Besides that I am working as an arranger and as a choir leader for the two Danish pop choirs Naura and Sing it!. Four years ago, I experienced the quality brand “Made in Denmark” for the first time, when I went to my first concert with Vocal Line. I was so touched by their music that I felt compelled to follow all Danish workshops available at that time. My passion was enflamed, the idea was born to move to Aarhus to become a part of this unique musical centre. My journey had of course many more steps that I won’t present here in detail.

Aarhus Summer Camp 1Instead, I would like to invite you on a journey to Denmark with the eyes of an insider. I want to report about the everyday life and special events in the Danish a cappella scene. My blogs will cover my studies at the Royal Academy of Music, my work on the board of the youth choir organization SYNG, artist portraits as well as the Aarhus Vocal Festival 2015.

The first “Local Blog” gives an answer to the question what you could experience in your holidays in Demark besides camping and hot dog shops. SING, SING, SING, SING – ALL YOU GOT TO DO IS SING! Every year the Danish choir organizations SYNG and KOR 72 organize a huge choir week in the Southern part of Denmark with about 400 singers from all over the country. Whole families can share their passion for singing in four different choirs: classical choir, children’s musical, pop choirs for young and more experienced participants with well-known instructors like Line Groth and Morten Kjær.

After the performance of the children’s musical, I was totally overwhelmed by the musical level. The concept makes sense: While the kids are preparing for their show, grandma has time to party with 150 singers and a huge band. Year after year family clans are meeting at this event. The Danes are calling such an occasion ”hygge”.

After one week of choir heaven in the South the guys from Postyr took over the scene with their first summer camp in Aarhus. 47 singing geeks from 10 different countries (including India and Taiwan!!!) came to Aarhus to learn from the innovative and highly educated vocal group. ”Postyr” is an old Danish word and means ”to stir something up” – well, I can conclude that they succeeded. I rarely experienced a ”do-it-yourself workshop” that was so organized, structured and had such a broad content.

Aarhus Summer Camp 2The participants could choose between two tracks (singer/choir leader) in order to improve in their own field. The topics were vocal technique and interpretation, arrangement and choir leading, as well as rhythm & groove and technical issues. In the big choir the participants came together to sing a brand new song of Postyr and performed it in the final concert.

Besides the musical excellence of the group, I want to emphasize how warm-hearted Postyr interacted with the participants. Who would prepare a welcome bag with a lot of useful tourist info, discounts for a tour in the city and bottles with your personal name tag. Chapeau, Postyr!! This summer camp was a win and if I interpret the birds outside my kitchen window right, there will be a summer camp reloaded.

 

LEOsings #1 Barcelona – Interview Jim Daus Hjernoe, pt.2

by Florian Städtler, Vocal Blog editor-in-chief

Jim Hjernoe and Jens Johansen at AAVF 2011

Jim Hjernoe and Jens Johansen at AAVF 2011

Those who have watched the first part are anxiously waiting for part 2 of the interview I was able to do with Danish vocal music education specialist Jim Daus Hjernoe in Barcelona. In this part of the interview we are talking about the Aarhus Vocal Music Festival, Associate Professor Bobby Mc Ferrin, Vocal Line, choir sound, the “Intelligent Vocal Ensemble” and the new possibilities for professional singers to study at the Royal Conservatory in Aalborg and Aarhus. Let us know about your Aarhus experiences or send questions via the comment section.

Before you watch the video, I’ll let you know about the end of the clip: It’s a reminder to become an EVA member, as this opens up the opportunity to apply for travel and accommodation funding for the next LEOsings session in – guess where? – Aalborg, hosted by Jim and his students in May 2014. So hurry up, we still have some spots to fill. And with the brandnew EVA memberships, it is even more fun to be part of the European a cappella movement.

I’m Florian Städtler, a cappella agent, blogger and event planner. If you are into a cappella and choir music, you might want to follow me on  Twitter or check out Vocal Blog’s Facebook fanpage and group. If you want to buy cds, dvds, sheet music and other cool stuff, visit www.acappallezone.com. And if you want to contribute, feel free to send me your news, links, videos etc. via florian@acappellazone.com: This is a multi-author blog.

Reflection Time for a Bass Singer

11. September 2013 2 Kommentare

Lars Ørhøj, Vocal Line (DK)

Lars Orhoj - portrait with Vocal Line

 

 

I’m in my fifth phase of a cappella singing. First phase started when I was 8 years old and gave me ten years in a classical boys choir. Then a mix between classical choirs and 8 years in a 8 person a cappella group singing in a traditional jazzy Manhattan Transfer style. After that a phase 3: 7 years with a much more personal styled pop a cappella group with our own material and arrangements. My fourth phase started when I joined Vocal Line in 2003. After five years with these magnificent people, I decided to leave a cappella. I really believed that was it. No more a cappella for this dude. But after a three-year break I am back with the Vocal Liners and I have thought a lot lately on the different phases and especially the different needs you have to fulfill as a bass singer in an a cappella group compared to the large group format like Vocal Line.

From phase 3 to phase 4: Going from being a bass singer in a small format group to a large format group

When I “test-started” in Vocal Line I made an agreement with Jens Johansen, that I could “sit in” for a period of three months and he and I both had the right to end the arrangement, if we didn’t felt it would work. Good arrangement for me as it had been hard to split with the a cappella group – named Group 7 – so there was a lot of emotion involved.

And boy was I lucky this was a three-month period. The transition of being the one and only person singing a specific musical line in an arrangement to join a choir setting was mind-blowing difficult. Hey, those two or three other guys at my side were singing the same line and it literally took me the full three months to de-learn my singing style from the smaller group. In the smaller group you can have total focus on blending your voice with the other singers in the group and their parts. But in the large group you first have to secure blend, rhythmic feel, intonation, etc. with the others singing the same line. Especially intonation between bass singers is very tricky, as even a small detuning between three bases can set up a very insecure fundament for the rest of the choir – and at the same time really doesn’t sound that good…

It took us about half a year to set up a good sounding bass group with three first basses and three second basses. That constellation also made it possible for us to take other roles in some arrangements; especially things like vocal percussion.

But the challenge in the bass group is, that you use a lot of mental power to keep tight together with the other bass singers and at the same time must blend with the rest of the choir, that was so easy to focus on in the small group format.

From phase 4 to phase 5: bringing the small vocal group bass sound into the choir

In my three years break away from Vocal Line the bass setting had changed. The normal setting was now two or three first basses and now only two second basses. The reason – I guess – was to make the sound more vocal group like, and it is just easier to intonate between two instead of three people. Here in-ear monitors for the second basses are crucial in a large group, large volume setting. In the first period I alternated from song to song between the two bass parts based on what would fit the arrangement (and that was also quite nice, if one of the bass singers could not take part in a concert).

But lately I have sung more and more second bass together with the one and only “Krudt”: The Second Bass in Vocal Line since 2005. The thing is, that we have established a – for me – new sound in Vocal Line. A sound that gives both a better intonation, but also a lot more freedom in our way to express the music. We have totally stolen the expression “shadowing” from jazz a cappella ensembles like the great group Touché from Copenhagen. The simple point is, that there is one second bass singer having the “lead role” and the other singer is “shadowing” the style and sound of the other. So, this is not two singers fighting at the same volume level, but they are instead working to set up one integrated sound.

The beauty of this is, that this also have established a “free space” that resembles very much the feeling I had when singing in Group 7. We can now with ease work from parts where we sing together to parts where we split in e.g. fifths (our bass signature sound at the moment, I guess) for that full-bodied bass sound or even singing completely different lines. We have made the sound “thinner” and more vocal group like, which for closed-miked basses is no problem, as it is easily compensated via a good sound engineer.

The point in this my phase 5 is that we have brought the vocal group bass feel fully back into the large choir group setting, which at times is a magical feeling – and just really fun.

Lars Ørhøj, Vocal Line

KategorienMain Tags: ,

Postyr’s Line Groth on Intonation Basics

by Line Groth Riis (Postyr Project)

This is an answer to Christopher who, after reading Tine’s blog, raised a question about which intonation and blend exercises Postyr use.

When it comes to intonation, there are different issues you should be aware of/ take care of:

1) The colours of the vowels should be similar

2) Especially in vocal jazz it’s important to start and end the note at the same time

3) Vibrato/ non-vibrato. The vibrato might make the pitch unclear

4) Posture. Tine already covered this aspect which is also very important in getting the right pitch

5) Being aware of the harmonics. For instance if you’re singing the ninth of the chord you should not be as loud as the root note or the fifth.

And finally it’s also a matter of ear training. And for this I have attached a couple of exercises you might find useful: Intonation Exercises

When it comes to blend there are also different ways of approaching this area:

1) Working on your vocal techniques (which is for sure a topic for a future blog!) in order to be able to sing with the same tone colours and qualities.

2) Training your ears towards listening to your fellow singers and tuning in!
And for this there is a great exercise which I call the ‘shadow game’:

One singer (any singer) is appointed ‘leader’ and the other singers in the group should sing a certain phrase the exact same way as the leader – they copy whatever sound colour, dynamics, phrasing etc. the leader puts into the phrase and try to blend with the leader (= they act like shadows of the leader).
- The singers should take turn being the leader.
- You can agree beforehand, that now the leader should sing with the darkest sound possible, or as softly as possible and so on. Or you can just let the leader sing the phrase the way he or she thinks it should be song – with her/his own expression.
- It is possible and actually fun to try to let the boys shadow a girl lead singer or the other way around….
- You can also let an entire voice group be leaders, so that for instance the entire choir should shadow the sopranos.

I hope this will be useful to the Vocal Blog Readers and I look forward to hearing your comments :-)

All the best,

Line

Line is singer, composer, arranger and vocal coach with Danish electro-vocal group Postyr Project. Hailing from Danish vocal Mecca Aarhus (Aarhus Vocal Music Festival, Vocal Line), this quintet is one of the most innovative and refreshing rising stars on the European scene. And Vocal Blog is very, very happy to have Postyr members Line Groth, Tine Fris and Kristoffer Thorning as regular authors, sharing their know-how and inspiration.

Be sure to stay tuned to Postyr on Facebook and Twitter as well as when my Danish darlings will be “Back on the Blog”.

 

Breaking News: Vocal Line London Workshop & Concert, October 15th

by Florian Städtler

If you haven’t heard of Vocal Line…then get the hell out of this blog! – Ehem, ojust kidding. However, the Danish pioneers of “rhythimic choral music” are a MUST in h so many ways: They are the spearhead of contemporary choral composing, arranging, rehearsing, singing, blending, touring and…yes, partying. They are also amazingly nice, cool and good-looking people, whose English is great and who everybody on the continent (I mean Europe, here) wants to have in their city, on their stage and in their rehearsal room.

And now, Vocal Line with their charismatic musical director Jens Johansen is coming to London, England. On October 15th, the choir will give a workshop and perform at the Greenwood Theatre. It really amazed me, when I learned, that the British, who

Vocal Line

have  probably the longest choral tradition of all countries, are still more or less a cappella newbies: Besides a small number of pro groups (The King’s Singers, The Swingle Singers, VOCES8, The Sixteen, The Boxettes, The Magnets, The London Quartet), there is only a relatively small collegiate scene and apart from the Swingles’ London A Cappella Festival (January 12-15, 2012) few established a cappella events.

Thanks to Vocal Line’s hosts, “Sing a cappella”, there now is a real event, one, that no one who is interested in modern vocal music should miss. Find more information below or on Sing a cappella’s website:

 

Florian Städtler is founder of Vocal Blog and (positively, as he thinks) obsessed with vocal music. He loves to write about a cappella and choir music, but he even loves it more to learn from his fantastic co-bloggers here at Vocal Blog. If you want to teach him, send your ideas, drafts or complete articles to info@vocal-blog.net or contact me via Twitter or Facebook. Thanks for joining the conversation.