Saturday, January 13, 2018

Music is Easy - Height and Length are Hard...

Pierre Massie directs and sings with The Stairwell Carollers from The tenor section.- photo, Iryna Zamchevska
Pierre, our director discusses his theory about music.

From an email conversation with David Rain, tenor and fellow composer.

"Here's a basic fact I've learned over my lifetime of doing music.

There are two technical elements to the language of music: height and length.

That's it, that's all.

It's why a computer can do it.  It's math.

What's missing is the human element - and of course, that's the biggest part of it.  Many musicians can do the technical part very well and give flawless performances that lack the human aspect.

Those performances are cold and boring.

If a musician has a handle on both - and also feels the music, those are always the best performances of all.
The Stairwell Carollers LOVE to sing - - photo, Iryna Zamchevska
The Stairwell Carollers are at the point now where we do height very well.  Height is
intervals and sustaining pitch.  The choir is pretty good at learning a melody line.  As for pitch, sure we lose some height on occasion but this last iteration of the choir is pretty amazing when it comes to keeping pitch.
Stairwell Carollers lost in song. - photo, Iryna Zamchevska
So music height is ok with us, but length is not and it inhibits our advancement substantially.  You've had first hand experience with this.  You see it every time we do rhythm work.  Some totally gave up on the stick routine when I had that workshop. It's coordination and coordination is rhythm.  Those few in the choir who have it tend to pick things up faster than most.  Others in their sections often rely on them for entries.

You often tell me that you don't know how I can sing, conduct, hear everyone and make corrections and comments all at the same time.

The key is coordination and any problem with that translates directly to a musician who has difficulty with the length aspect of music."

Pierre Massie
Pierre was just out of hospital in this photo, but totally dedicated to improving the choir's performance.
And now for a message from the altos - well not really, but I wanted to put in this cute photo of me and Manon :)
Manon and I are alto sisters - so much fun to sing with her!

Auditions Spring 2018 Ottawa Stairwell Carollers SATB

To set up your audition for the end of January, email info(at)

Please DONATE to support our 40th year events ! 

All Donations receive a charitable receipt.

About The Stairwell Carollers:
Pierre Massie started our a cappella choir in 1977 while a music student at Ottawa University. The Stairwell Carollers are ranked with the best of Ontario choirs, winning both the 2010 and 2013 Ontario Music Festival Association competitions. 

A registered Canadian charity, we also help local charities with our concert, CD and cookbook sales.

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You can also email your questions to me - info (at) stairwellcarollers (dot) com.
Holly :)

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