Dramatis persona*

helenhead Helen Chick

I've always wanted a bumper sticker that said "I'm a female, LDS/Mormon, Scout leading, geocaching, piano-playing, bicycling, mathematics educator with a PhD in maths ... and I VOTE"!

I think this makes me a minority group of cardinality 1!

* Since there's only one of me and "personae" is plural (I think), I've gone with dramatis persona.
July 2019
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The Alto’s Lament – for every A who has ever sung SATB

Many many years ago (24 in fact) I wrote a song—words and music—that lamented the long-suffering experiences of any alto who has ever sung in an SATB choir, where we often end up with the most monotonous lines (Handel, to give him credit, treats altos with a little more respect). I have performed The Alto’s Lament a few times for various groups, and shared the sheet music with friends, but with the availability of modern technology—and prompted by the 100 poems challenge bringing it to mind again, a request for the sheet music from an old friend, and the suggestion of another friend who had seen me sing it—it seemed time to record a performance. So, I balanced my iPad on a music stand and pointed it in my general direction as I played the piano and sang (having moved said piano to a more photographically convenient position in the loungeroom), transferred the footage to my computer, edited the footage afterwards (well, cut the beginning and ending few seconds where I was pfaffing around getting organised), added some cheap-and-nasty credits, and uploaded the result to YouTube. It’s not a great performance because I am not a great singer and there are a few bung notes in there (what kind of a composer can’t play what he/she wrote?!), but it’ll give you an idea. The words can be found here at the end of one of my 100 poems posts.



Having uploaded it to YouTube I have found that there is another piece called The Alto’s Lament that has been performed a few times, but it postdates mine and has many more notes and is thus, clearly, less representative of the alto experience.

I think I mentioned in that 100 poems challenge post that one of these years I’d like to write a piece for SAAAATB in which the four alto parts have some awesome fugal melodies, while S, T and B provide the very-appreciated-I-am-sure but unutterably dull harmonic backing parts.

PS In an ironic twist, I am actually singing tenor in the more challenging of my current crop of choral endeavours.

6 comments to The Alto’s Lament – for every A who has ever sung SATB

  • Lyndel Short

    I’ve always loved this – large parts of it have stuck in my memory and surface occasionally when i encounter particularly annoying bits of major works. It’s fantastic to see it performed so well, and with such heartfelt conviction!

  • Dave&Lucy

    Thank goodness my voice broke and I now sing (bad) tenor… Love Dave

  • I hear you! After decades as an alto my voice went higher and I was excited to sing soprano. But in church hymns they just sing the melody so that was boring and I went back to alto. Great song and wonderful performance.

  • Ulla Knox-Little

    You are just marvellous Helen and very funny and clever too. Ulla xx

  • Leonie Harbeck

    Thanks Helen, you always make me smile. I recently contributed one alto voice in 150 voice choir for Vivaldi – Gloria, with chamber strings. Happily we had more than two standard notes to employ 🙂

  • mihaj

    Such a ham, that was wonderful, ahahahahaha!

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