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Thursday, December 08, 2005


I've always wanted to do a singalong Messiah.

I never get to.

Thing is, I have always assumed if I did such a thing, it would be with Cindy. Cindy and I have known each other since 3rd grade, sat beside each other in the alto section of the choir in jr. high school (yes, before that silly term "middle school" came into vogue) and have been fully involved in each other's lives ever since.

And every Christmas we either forget about the singalong Messiah until it's too late, or Cindy is in (pardon me, boys) Chattanooga for the holidays. This year will be no different.

But there's another catch, and that's simply that neither of us owns the vocal score to the Messiah. This year I intended to change that. This year I intended to buy a couple "just in case" even though we wouldn't be needing them. I mean, there's always next year, right?

So a trip down Amazon lane was in order.

And what to my wondering eyes should appear but the same score my sister owns. It's so lovely and OLD looking, like a real Messiah score ought to look.And they even mention singalongs in the description. And only $7.50! I decided to order four. Who knows, maybe I could lure others into our adventure when we finally manage to pull this off in, say, 2011? (Oh wait. I won't be able to find these next week, much less in 2011, but what the hell, they're so pretty!)

And just before I hit send and place the order I think, "Maybe I should ask Bryan." Because the thing about Bryan is, she's always good for an opinion, which I guess is why she's a critic, duh.

That score is the very first piece of music I bought for myself, in high school (when it was just $1.50 for the paperback, and boy, do I wish I'd sprung for the hardcover at $3!). I have learned a good deal since then, and I would advise against Schirmer; their scores are notoriously inaccurate. For starters, there's no "The" in the title; it's just "Messiah" -- and it gets worse from there.

Here's the one we used tonight -- and it's the only one I'd use, given a choice: Don't worry about the "good for sing-alongs" business; you won't be encountering wrong notes in the Watkins Shaw, and they're a definite hazard in the Schirmer.


But it's not as pretty and old-looking. And she's actually going on the presumption that I will recognize the wrong notes when I see them, or that anyone hearing me howl, "For unto us a child is bo-O-o-O-o-o-o-o-OO-o-o-o-OO-o-O-rn!" would have any earthly idea whether I actually INTENDED to hit the right notes or not.

But she got me with the "The," damn it. I mean, I'm a purist on the dumbed-down-for-Americans Harry Potter Philosopher's/Sorceror's Stone issue, so of course I'm going to get my knickers in a twist over a dumbed-down "The."

Except. (sigh) Now I'm going to have to train myself not to use the dumbed-down-"The" my dumbed-down-self.

So, anyway, four copies of a pretty orange Messiah are winging their way to me, and I plan to spend a few eggnogged hours in my living room alone with Watkins Shaw and Christopher Hogwood, The Academy of Ancient Music and the Choir of Christ Church, Oxford and nobody will know whether I hit the damn notes or not.

Bryan added, I hope you can go, as it is my firm belief that Messiah is more fun to sing than to listen to.

Especially with eggnog and Cindy. (She'll hit as many bad notes as I will. Now THAT'S a party.)


At 4:32 PM, Anonymous Erin said...

I came here through Holidailies and had to laugh -- I do the same thing. My church performed Messiah a few years ago, and we learned it using the Schirmer. I needed to hear how it was supposed to sound, so I bought that exact recording and fell in love with it. I was actually singing along with Disc 1 this morning in the car!

At 3:03 PM, Blogger pooks said...

Thanks for stopping by, Erin! One thing I've wondered about Bryan's advice -- if everybody is using the Schirmer, aren't they all using the "wrong notes?" Which means, won't those with the Watkins Shaw be the ones singing the "wrong notes" while everybody else is singing the Schirmer? Hmmm, makes one wonder!

Have you heard the Turtle Creek Chorale sing the Jalapeno Chorus? It's stupendous. (I just figured out from your blog that you used to live in Dallas!) Hmm, don't know if you'll see this here, but anyway....


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