Here are three reasons why I believe SCA singing groups should include ballads and other solo music.
The main reason I think it’s a good idea for singing groups to include period ballads in their performances is that it enables the group to be more flexible at events. Sometimes there will only be one or two of you in at fighter practice or a dance event, and trying to sing a four part madrigal with two people is…. tricky. Having some ballads and other solo material in your repertoire enables you to better utilize the musicians that are available. Not to mention that you’ll be more able to include people who don’t normally sing in your group. Yay community singing!
If you only sing period part music you’re pretty much limited to the three “M”s: Madrigals, Masses, and Motets. Granted there a lot of Madrigals, Masses, and Motets so it wouldn’t be at all difficult to keep a group busy by focusing on them, but at the same time you’re not including a lot of other beautiful music. Moreover music from the three “M”s is really art music while ballads are popular music. By including ballads, you’re tapping into an entirely different musical sphere, and I think that’s pretty cool.
Sometimes you want to show off the individual talent of your singers, and part music really isn’t the best way. Solo music gives your soloist a lot more musical flexibility and a lot more attention than he/she will get with a madrigal where there are several people to pay attention to. So if there’s talent in your group, why not have a few of your singers learn a ballad or two?
Starting in September, Cyngabar (The new name for the singing group of the Cynnabar Collegium Musicum) is going to add some ballads and other solo music into its repertoire. Over the next few months I’ll report on what works and what doesn’t.
In Friday’s post I’ll show you were to find pre-1600 ballads (and some good slightly post 1600 ones too), where to find information on ballads, and some ideas on how to perform them.
Yay singing! ^_^