|DAVID CHARLES MARTIN|
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This easy and funny piece suits amateur choirs that wish to explore new music but have little experience and want a confidence-building piece. A Guilt-free Zone is unusual but the music is easy to read, easy to learn and easy to sing. It is great fun for both singers and audience!
In A Guilt-free Zone the singers delight in the pleasures of a really good gossip behind the backs of a couple they know who are amicably splitting up. The women gossip amongst themselves and the men eavesdrop with gasps of ‘ooh’ and ‘ah’. The men gossip amongst themselves and the women listen in, responding appreciatively. Then men and women gasp and argue with each other and so it goes……… Most of the gossip is fun and hugely enjoyable but by the end the break-up leaves the gossipers feeling sad - but in a guilt-free way!
The piece suits a chamber choir.
A Guilt-free zone was composed for COMA Voices.
Pitch is incredibly easy. There are only two phrases of nine notes to learn. The phrases are repeated with different rhythms and pauses. There is a practice sheet in the score giving guidance on how to learn them and take full advantage of their simplicity.
In passages in the score notated like this
you make up the exact pitches but you follow the rhythm, expression and melodic shapes in the score. They can be sung or half-sung half-spoken. Any number of solos, duets or sub groups of singers can be shared out amongst the choir in these sections.
The rhythm is simple and clear following the natural rhythms of the words. The piece is in 4/4 time with nothing more complicated than triplets used in the traditional way.
The way it’s written technically makes it fun to perform. The improvised or half-sung pitches give an increased feeling of spontaneous gossip. They also make solos and duets much less daunting for any members of the choir who lack confidence. In this piece even a ‘croaky’ or ‘odd sounding’ voice can be used to advantage! Some lines can even be spoken in rhythm. So its easy to have a good time with it.
A certain amount of theatrical reaction or shock, surprise or downright glee between the voices is directed in the score and more could easily be added! Solos, duets and other combinations with improvised pitches can be addressed to other members of the choir, the audience - or even the conductor! These theatrical elements of gossip are limited only by your imagination. – Everyone can have a turn!
“They were so good together” is the refrain that always comes back after each bit of news.
It becomes clearer with each titbit of juicy gossip that this couple who are splitting up were in fact very well matched – “They were so good together”. They both cheated on each other and both got away with it – “They were so good together”. They both hated their horrible flat but stayed, thinking the other one loved it – “They were so good together”. They both loved the car but thought the other one hated it – “They were so good together”. By the last time we hear the refrain –“They were so good together” - everyone has realised just how profoundly true it was so it is no longer funny but has become wistful with sorrow and regret.
Click to read practice sheet
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