July 01, 2015

Chris Rowbury's monthly music roundup (July 2015)

July 2015

Hello there and welcome to the first ever edition of my monthly roundup of the music and singing snippets that I regularly stumble across while I'm supposed to be working.

I come across loads of stuff every day which I usually post to my Facebook page, but I thought it might be useful to gather bits and pieces together in a more friendly format.

Do let me know what you think. And if you come across something worth sharing, let me know and I'll include it in next month's roundup. Happy reading!

Chris Rowbury

Where on earth is Saginaw??!!

"It took me four days to hitch hike to Saginaw." One of my favourite Simon and Garfunkel
songs is "America", but I've never known anything about Saginaw ... until now:

Finding Simon And Garfunkel's 'America' in Saginaw, Michigan

British choirs rule!

  Why Eric Whitacre thinks British choirs are the best in the world


You don't always need your hands to conduct

There is more than one way to conduct, and it doesn't always have to involve your hands!

What happened to Leonard Bernstein's hands?  


Music playlists to soothe your mind

Neuropsychiatrist Galina Mindlin suggests that listening to particular songs on your mp3 player can make you a more productive person.
Read more ...


Can the tone deaf learn to sing?

Can the tone deaf learn to sing? - of course they can! And to prove it, California-based composer, William A Mathieu, has run tone deaf singing courses for years.


Mountain Man — but they're all women!

Mountain Man is an American singing trio of young women described as indie folk rock with a traditional Appalachian-type folk sound. I just love their harmonies and simple, sparse approach.

Click here to listen to some songs from a session for NPR Music.


Choir therapy?

I guess all choirs are therapeutic, but for most of us it's a fortunate side-effect. Who knew that in Michigan there are actually Therapy Choirs??!! You can find out all about them on the Therapy Choirs website.

Are you an impatient listener?

I remember saving up to buy the latest David Bowie record and playing it every day for months. I didn't like all the tracks at first, but slowly they grew on me. But now with music so available I hardly ever sit down and listen to anything as intensely.

Bobby McFerrin reckons that tech is making us 'impatient' listeners. Do you agree?

A blog post you might have missed

As many of you know, I write a weekly blog called From the Front of the Choir. Every now and then a post that slips through the net and doesn't get as wide a readership as I think it should.

Each month I'm going to feature one of these posts. This month it's ...

When audiences applaud – or not

I was at an amazing concert of Corsican song this week. Four men singing exquisite unaccompanied harmony in a church. It was mainly a classical audience (which might explain things), but I was surprised when there was no applause at the end of the first song. It wasn't until they'd sung about half a dozen songs that the audience began to applaud. Not sure why, but when I'm singing and nobody claps, it taps in to all my insecurities!


Song of the month

My love is for traditional, unaccompanied harmony singing from across the globe (you can read more about this in I may not know much about music, but I know what I like!). Places with the strongest harmony singing traditions include The Balkans, Corsica, Georgia, the Pacific Islands, USA (gospel, shape note, etc.), much of Eastern Europe and Southern Africa.

Each month I'll be sharing one of my favourite songs. This month it's ...

Polegnala e Tudora (Bulgaria)

I taught this to one of my choirs and we could never really get it right as we couldn't figure out where to breathe! This version was made famous by the recording called Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares which featured, amongst others, the Bulgarian State Radio & Television Female Vocal Choir and the Filip Kutev Ensemble (Filip Kutev arranged many of the traditional Bulgarian songs that we're now familiar with. Traditional village singing is somewhat different!). One of the soloists was Kalinka Vulcheva who lived down the road from me in Coventry and took over my choir for a few weeks when I was away in the States - small world!

Tudora lay down under an olive tree to rest. A wind blows down from the mountains, breaking off a small branch, which wakes her. She curses the wind for waking her, saying, “Why did you have to blow just now? I was having a sweet dream in which my sweetheart was bringing me a bouquet with a golden ring inside.”
I do hope you enjoy my monthly ramblings. If you do, why not forward them to a friend so they can subscribe too?
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