Welcome to the Petrichor resources page. Here you will find (where possible) everything we have covered in our singing together including music, audio, live performances, learning parts, workshop notes and more. Click a song or session date to expand or collapse its contents. You can also search for something specific by hitting CTRL + F (CMD + F on a mac).
Purea Nei – All Parts
Purea Nei – Soprano
Purea Nei – Alto
Purea Nei – Tenor
Purea Nei – Bass
This Love Will Carry
This Love Will Carry – All Parts
This Love Will Carry – Soprano
This Love Will Carry – Alto
This Love Will Carry – Tenor
This Love Will Carry – Bass
Homework & Workshop Notes
T3W3 – 18 Sep 23: Consonance & Dissonance; Keval Sviri
Workshop Notes – Consonance & Dissonance
On Monday we had our first mini-music workshop, in which we discussed the very universal concepts of consonance and dissonance. Here is the heart of it.
- There is no such thing as a “wrong note” Somewhere along our collective and individual human evolutions, we agreed that certain things were good and bad, when actually these are just certain peoples’ preferences, and they are quite arbitrary. We can change our beliefs and preferences at any time. Depending on what you what to achieve, musical choices may simply be more or less effective. If you genuinely don’t like something, try getting curious about what it is you don’t like about it. Do you like or not like things because of your own preferences, or because someone told you how it should be? Again, it all depends on what you are trying to achieve.
- Dissonance We often believe that if one person has a belief that conflicts with our own perspective, they must be wrong, but what if we were both right from our own angles? When we do not allow enough space for two apparently conflicting events to exist, they start to create turbulence. If we allow enough space, in time, clarity and the transcendence of this tension will naturally emerge. This is a kind of interpersonal human dissonance that also occurs more simply in the vibrations of music. The closer two notes are to one another, the more they literally get in each others’ way, vibrationally speaking. This is known as interference beating, where two conflicting notes begin to cancel each other out so much that there are tiny pulses of silence. The frequency of these pulses increases the further away the notes are from their happy, harmonious places within the harmonic series.
- Embracing dissonance with confidence creates space and sounds pretty cool There are many cultures for whom dissonance is more commonplace. See the homework challenge to hear a powerful application. Naomi spoke about how if we meet dissonance with confidence, we can discover great clarity and great pleasure within even the most dissonant interval, the minor second. Throughout the evening, we found in the refrain of Chela, that once we established confidence and stability in each of the alto and soprano parts separately, they could meet and each hold their ground, creating a stable tension, so to speak. If we are lacking in commitment, we will very easily be pulled off our pitch by the other close harmony.
- Consonance When two notes co-exist happily, they are said to be consonant. Between the various musical intervals there are sweet spots where they seem to find rest, or even complement one another in different ways. There are also said to be more consonant intervals and less consonant intervals. The most consonant intervals are unison (the same note), octaves (the same pitch doubled or halved in frequency), fifths, thirds and sixths. Fourths are dissonant on their own – they are consonant if there is a 3rd or 5th below it. From there it gets harder to describe, and more personal ,as we enter the realm of extended harmony. Bear in mind that the terms consonance and dissonance are still a little subjective; but they are reasonable concessions to make for the purpose of exploring music.
- Dissonance wants to resolve itself Though we can intentionally avoid resolving dissonance, it naturally wants to move back to a place of rest and deeper harmony. Life does this too, no? Choosing if, how and when we resolve dissonance is one of the most subtle and beautiful parts of making music.
- Spatial relationships are emotional relationships We humans are very emotional creatures, so when we hear two sounds in space, the way they work together is felt by us as a reflection of our emotional being. We respond to it in a visceral and powerful way. The key to becoming excellent musicians is not to learn everything intellectually, but to discover at our own pace the emotional quality of each interval, melody, rhythm or subtle musical gesture. How does it make you feel? Keep noticing this over and over. If something produced a particular response in you, get curious about how it was made. This really unlocks the power of music.
- What is the point of all of this? There are very practical applications of this understanding of consonance and dissonance.
- We can use the presence or absence of interference beating to tell how in tune we are with those singing around us. When we are in tune, we will hear no beating. When are a bit off, we will hear a little beating. When we are further away from the pitch, we will hear a lot of beating.
- Get curious about what musical events trigger certain emotional responses in you. What sounds are you attracted to? Why? What don’t you like? Why? Ask questions! Go down the rabbit hole!
- We can notice that this play of consonance and dissonance is a repeating pattern in our lives. Simply noticing conflict or discomfort and recognise it as temporary dissonance is a great way to not take things too personally. We know that dissonance wants to resolve itself, so the discomfort will pass in time. We can also notice the appearance of a harmonious interactions and be grateful for them – who knows how long it will last! Music and life are made of the same stuff.
Listen to this performance of Keval Sviri by the The Bulgarian State Radio & Television Female Vocal Choir, which uses the tension and release of dissonance and consonance to extraordinary effect.
T3W4 – 25 Sep 23: Intervals
Workshop Notes – Intervals
- Intervals are the building blocks of harmonic music Outside of solo percussion, intervals are the engine that drives harmony. An interval is the relationship between two notes, measured in a distance of tones and semitones (half a tone). Intervals can be very large (say a 13th – one octave + a 5th) or very small (say a minor 2nd, the distance between one piano key and the one immediately above or below it). We can also have an interval of 0 semitones, which is two voices sounding the same note. The combinations of these intervals can be used to create more complex chords. Much like a complex human situation has many emotional components, we could have a chord that has within it both a feeling of joy and expansiveness, as well as suspension, or even tension.
- Spatial relationships are emotional relationships I will say this again, because this is really important. The best way to learn music as a deep part of you is to develop at your own pace small emotional relationships to different intervals, rhythms, timbres, musical gestures and so on. This applies very easily to intervals. The next time you find yourself in front of a piano, take two fingers and put them anywhere. How does that sound make you feel? What happens if you change it? If you keep practicing this kind of curiosity and awareness, you will understand the intervals in no time at all.
- Resonance You don’t have to be clever to create astonishingly beautiful music. All you have to do is find the place where each note belongs. There are sweet spots between different notes, special places where the two notes of an interval appear to find rest, fullness, warmth, or a complementary effect that seems to create a richness beyond the sum of the parts. This agreement is known as resonance. We could say that two notes slightly detuned from each other are less resonant than two that are perfectly in tune.
- Sympathetic resonance and overtones When one body (be it a drum or a speaker, a cello string or the vocal folds) is set to vibrate, it moves the air, creating pressure waves. When those waves reach other objects, to the extent to which those objects are composed of similar materials, they will resonant sympathetically with the original vibration. This is why if you sing a high note next to a wine glass, it will resonate along with you. When we sing very in tune with each other, the sound will appear to grow quite a lot louder, and fuller. Not only that, but the sounds will reinforce in each other overtones (which sound like pure, bell-like sine tones) higher and lower than the actual note that is being played. What this means is that when two notes are very beautifully tuned, their combined efforts will produce a stunning stack of overtones that create that warmth and fullness. The overtones that sound like an octave and a fifth may even be clearly audible, though they are not physically being sounded. Often when I have performed Sweetest Kick with The Spooky Men’s Chorale, it has sounded like that there was someone whistling an octave above the top part.
- Why these particular intervals? Can’t I sing any old pitch? Can’t I sing in between the notes of the piano? In the western system of music, we have adopted a wonderful system created hundreds of years ago by some very smart people that allows for a variety of intervals, and even allows us to change keys and go on even wilder journeys with our musical creations. Before those dudes, the same intervals were being played in music for thousands of years earlier. My friend Violet asked me a question on Tuesday after the previous night’s sing: “Aren’t these notes we sing arbitrary? Couldn’t we be playing or singing any random pitch? Why does it have to be these major thirds and fifths and so on?” The reason we use these notes is because they are the sweet spots, the resting places, the spaces of full and clear and beautiful resonance that already exist in nature within the harmonic series. Simply put, the universe actually just resonates with itself in this way, and we are tuning our voices and instruments to particular shades (or vibrational frequencies) that are most pleasing to us. If we want to, we can sing out of tune, and this can also be a great effect. But much like dissonance naturally tends to resolve itself in time, and conflict may appear unending in human affairs, everything seems to resolve to a more harmonious (or loving) resonance in time. These intervals just sound great, so we can’t help making them. Many cultures around the world have quite independently discovered that they all like the same intervals. There are differences of course, and these tend to match the “style” of these cultures’ senses of fashion, food, and everything else. Pretty cool, hey?
- What’s the point?
- You don’t need to know how everything works all at once. Just follow your intuition and make gradual changes in the direction of what feels good. We all know what feels good when we experience it. Use that as your guiding light in all things musical.
- When the parts don’t sound full, rich and warm, they could probably be more in tune, more centred in their collective resonance. Do your part to find the centre, where it feels good. If everyone does this to the best of their ability, we can’t help but finding the sweet spot in time.
- Practice curiosity in developing emotional relationships to all the intervals. Find some time to sit at a piano and explore like a child. Or try singing sustained notes with a friend, finding the sweet and not-so-sweet spots between your two voices. Just sing “aaaah” and have one of you move around while the other holds one pitch.
T4W1 – 9 Oct 23: More on Intervals
Workshop Notes – More on Intervals
Much of what we explored this week was practical, but essentially what was explored was in the realm of introducing some of the basic intervals. We sung this together as I used solfa or solfege hand signs to demonstrate the range of these intervals. We mainly covered the major 2nd, major 3rd, perfect 4th and perfect 5th. See the video below for a more visually digestible and expanded view of intervals as we find them on a piano.
T4W3 – 23 Oct 23: Basic Sight Reading
Workshop Notes – Basic Music Reading
When we read music and sing it, we call it sight singing. There are really only a few basic things to know.
- Observe the contour of the melody you are singing. If it goes up, raise your pitch, if down, lower it. The smallest steps will be those of the scale of the key we are singing in. Since most of the time there are only 7 possible notes within a key, chances are your ear will guide you to the right one. If it feels a bit wrong, try again.
- Notice the big jumps (a fifth for example), and the small steps a (a major second or a third).
- Take a look at the rhythm. This tells us when a note occurs in time and how long to hold it for. The more simple and uncoloured a note is, the longer it is. If it is coloured, and the more tails on the stem, the shorter it will be. Long notes take up a lot of time, whilst many shorter notes can fit into a smaller length of time.
- Notice the structure of the piece. Most of the time it will be obvious.
- That’s all you need to get started!
For a more detailed lesson that will familiarise you with the deeper aspects of sight singing, check out this great page. It includes illustrations and audio examples that will get you singing along in no time.