‘Life Without’ by Keith Ravenhill

Life Without …….

The barriers are up to keep us safe and free
From an enemy we cannot see
We make plans to finish jobs started some time ago,
Anything to fill the time on our hands
But it’s not the same as it was only yesterday
What is missing, what is the gap that needs to be filled?
Why do I feel lost, what is on my mind diverting it from the job at hand?
Searching for an answer I look to see where can I find a clue
Another view
A path to enlighten my mind that is stuck in empty space
Maybe there is something new, something exciting
In the society website perhaps someone has been writing?
With a sense of purpose I enter the internet to see
Is there something to grab my thoughts with glee?
I find that “The man At The Front” has something to say
Words of wisdom that points the way
Interesting thoughts that lets me know
About Hemiola, wow that’s new to me
I count to three
Then two, I try clapping, I’m hooked
It’s music and singing that is missing.
My voice has lost its chords, it’s grumpy and growls
It’s angry with me for not trying to fill the gap
Then I find the links to funny songs, beautiful groups singing
I have to clap
Wonderful sounds
Virtual singing groups a great idea, what a boon
Roll out Zoom
But oh dear, fun with meetings with everyone talking
Then all stopping, being polite, silence, then some starting
Confusion, we need a “Man At The Front” to bring in voices
Who’s next?
Can’t wait to meet again, not just voices
People, friends and fellow singers
The joy, pure pleasure to be one of many
With one aim – to sing as best you can.

Continue Reading ‘Life Without’ by Keith Ravenhill

We welcome your blog contributions

Your Committee welcomes contributions to the blog* from the choir and these will be posted in Members’ News. These can be in any form and should be informative or entertaining – ideally both. As a guide, they should be around one-and-a-half pages of A4 and can be prose or poetry. You might like to copy a link to something relevant or a piece of music (see Peter’s blog of 20 May).

Contributions should be as Word documents or pdf if you prefer and should be emailed to our secretary Julie Harris (jules2harris@outlook.com). A small sub-group of the Committee will act as editors in order to ensure the blog hits the right notes in terms of tone and suitability. The blog will then be posted under the contributors’ name or under a nom-de-plume as they prefer. Blogs will be reviewed annually just to keep the site refreshed. Your contributions, musings and meanderings are warmly invited!

*We are using the generic term, which is an abbreviation of the rather awkward neologism “weblog,” literally “a log of activities that you make available on the web.”

Continue Reading We welcome your blog contributions

Views from the Rear – chippingnortonjonnie

Just when you think all our energies must be focused forward on the junior basses and their partners in crime, the Fivers (clearly their real value), up pipes a confused and befuddled second bass who doesn’t realise we spend our whole time in a distinct and permanent feeling of self-isolation. Why does he think we are placed at the back near the exits?

Apart from mistakenly identifying the source of ‘slander’ (don’t shoot the accordion player – he doesn’t even live in Chippie!), words are then used such as ‘gusto’ and ‘aplomb’ when surely ‘windy’ and ‘gaucheness’ are more accurate descriptors? We are the Sancho Panza on a donkey to the Don Quixote on Rocinante in the serried ranks before us.

Are we now the political spectrum of the choir with naughty boys to the right and accomplished singers to the left? The Bullingdon Club versus Momentum? No, my friend. How can anyone be part of the second basses when they only get ‘one bar wrong’ consistently? Have we ever ‘nailed’ anything apart from our Oscar-winning performance (once) at the Chipping Norton Music Festival?

I await significant [and I trust anonymous] input from the ‘other’ sections. Fake news used to trump [!] banter from the second basses always welcome.

Just saying…………………………….

chippingnortonjonnie

Continue Reading Views from the Rear – chippingnortonjonnie

Views from the Rear

Is that banter I read from the first basses? Our normal interaction with them is the receipt of a withering ‘over the shoulder’ look of rebuke as we stumble on our note, or our diction, or our entry, or our key, or our inevitable loss of our trusted pencil or water bottle that have inexplicably wandered towards the tenors?

Was there a tenderness and sympathy in their script or did the words belie a hostility based on our observations of their rhythmic, unshaven ear hair?

Surely voices that often share words and notes should feel a sense of camaraderie even if the sticks on their notes sometimes point upwards and they cannot aspire (or is it ‘despire’) to the depths of our singing? There is only one thing lower than a rattlesnake’s fundament and that is second basses on a bottom ‘E’!

And in all that is canine about our character the comparison to a spaniel is a deeply misguided response. We resound as Basso Profondo in our guise as Dogue de Bordeaux, not the Labradoodle or Poodle style of those that sit before us.

And do not insult our intelligence. Everyone knows a smorzando is a Swedish sausage unless of course it is a description of the art of being a second bass? Dying away I believe?

But there is never hostility from our ranks. We treasure the cover provided for us by the firsts both physically and musically and would never deliberately sing more quietly in the passages they are struggling with.

We have after all not only a clear view from the rear but also one of rears. Treat us not as windmills but as gentle giants. Introverted we may be but never ask us to come out of our shells. Try saying that to a snail.

Just saying…………………………….

chippingnortonjonnie

Continue Reading Views from the Rear

View from near the Rear

“It is perhaps hard to realise the immense strain that the second basses are under…” (Views from the Rear – chippingnortonjonnie, Sun 19 April).

Though recently posted, Chippingnortonjonnie wrote his observations on the plight of second basses in an age that we will learn to refer to as BC(2), when there was an appetite for whimsy. These are tricky times and of course we have more to stress about, but I think we need to keep whimsy alive, perhaps by wearing T-shirts – ‘Save the Whimsy 1’.

So it is in this vein that I say to second basses, staying on a single note and counting to more than 10 whilst holding a score, it’s a big ask. We first basses feel your pain. We Too.

It’s never a bad time to be kind, to reflect on what we feel but too rarely say; so now’s the time to sing it loud. They are good people these second basses; a little introverted, but thoughtful and always considerate. They may growl, but like a pet spaniel, it’s all show. Deep down, which is their natural milieu, their tails are, as it were, always wagging. And just because they greet each other with nothing more elaborate than a barely perceptible movement of the head, it doesn’t mean they are without extravagance. They are just cautious about showing it, possibly as a result of something that happened in their adolescence. Who knows…..deep as they are.

And as for their sensitive voice boxes, well wouldn’t yours be?

The wee lambs.

They overheat. Don’t we all, but that’s not why they open the back door – don’t be taken in. They want to open the back door because, in truth, they would rather be outside. It’s their happy place, where they can gather in their own way, discussing a recent smorzando in bar 127 and engaging in some mutual grooming, perhaps picking a bit of fluff of one another’s collar. Happy.

In the words of another:

How do you tell an extrovert second bass?

They look at your shoes when they’re talking to you

Just saying….

Don Quixote

Continue Reading View from near the Rear

Sounds bearly pawsible!

Dear All,

I hope this finds you all safe and well and enjoying the sunny spell of weather which feels welcome indeed. Spring is certainly getting sprung and apparently the blackbirds, taking advantage of a little peace and quiet, have started singing to each other again!

There is no pawcity of rumour that the bears aren’t doing too badly at co-ordinating their efforts either: reports have been pawing in that the ‘Bear Hunt’ has become more literal than intended. It appears a number have subsequently gone AWOL and there have been sightings of marauding bears apparently looking for suitable picnic sites.  Indeed, I caught my little fella red-handed (or more accurately orange-pawed) plotting his escape to the park with a jar of my old Ma’s best thick cut…

… the bear cheek of it!

Not only that but they have apparently (following hints from the Man at the Front) been popping up in songs and major choral works unannounced all over place. Nicky Coldstream told us:  

My bear is an inept watercolour painting stuck in the front window, because all my childhood bears have mysteriously gone AWOL [Ed’s aside – have you looked in the park Nicky?]. But, a propos Peter’s search for music with ‘bear’ in the title, I can produce a bear in the text, which had me muddled until I was well into adolescence. I couldn’t think who the ‘holly bears’ were and what they had to do with blossom.

She also admitted how her five-year-old self lustily sang ‘garden sinners reconciled’ [and quietly she still does]. Well – thank goodness they were!

With reference to a major piece David Fitt suggests:

I’m doing phonics lessons for my grandchildren on Zoom, and we did the -air sound this week. So from a musical point of view I thought of “Night on Bear Mountain”, and taking the dog for a walk in the fields this morning I thought that a choral version would be best represented by the massed voices of “Sheep may safely graze”. Do they bleat in B?

Its lovely to hear from folks so do send in any quips or capers that bear repeating! We can expect a tenor themed artistic piece on Easter Day I believe, followed by a bass mono-blog from our very own ‘chippingnortonjonnie’ sometime next week, so watch this space and in the meantime stay safe, keep singing and be sure to keep following that time-old government advice:

 Wishing you all a peaceful and happy Easter!

Julie

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Continue Reading Sounds bearly pawsible!

The Self Isolation Choir sings the Messiah – 31st May

Hi Folks,

Following on from my e-mail earlier in the week here is some more information about the Self-Isolation Choir and its performance of the Messiah next month. Just follow, or cut and paste the link: https://www.theselfisolationchoir.com

The choir had its first rehearsal (of 8) last night and it was great fun – and very well attended with over 1000 singers joining from all far flung corners of the world. It was lovely to see some names from CNCS floating past as I gaily crooned along to the Hallelujah Chorus and no doubt greatly entertained the neighbours with the Alto line!

Further rehearsals follow this week and please don’t worry if you’ve missed the first couple – you can easily catch up online.

I hope to see some of you there soon – in the meantime keep safe, stay well and keep on singing!

Warmest wishes – Julie
.

Continue Reading The Self Isolation Choir sings the Messiah – 31st May

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