Some people sound better than others of course, because singing requires an ear for music. But unless you are tone deaf and really cannot tell one note from another, you can develop a good ear even if you are not born with one. Singing is a marvellous way of experiencing music. Because it is so natural and because it requires words, singing is one of the most expressive ways in which we can make music. It moves us deeply whether we sing ourselves or listen to song. Have a listen to the wonderful Katie Hughes sing Higher Love. She is an expert wedding singer.
Many people enjoy singing solo, usually with an accompaniment of some kind. This may vary from a guitar strummed by the singer or a piano played by an accompanist to a backing from a band or even music by a whole orchestra, as in opera. The tone of the voice and style of singing vary enormously. Have a listen to Fiona Kennedy singing whom is a very accomplished singer and guitarist.
In classical music such as opera, singers are trained to produce a strong voice with a wide range of notes. In popular music, singers use a more natural voice and rock and pop singers sound much more different from one another than classical singers. However, the range and power of their voices is not as great, so they often use microphones. Here you can listen to the power of a well trained voice with Áine and Joanne performing.
The sound of people singing together – from the roar of a football crowd in full song to the hushed tones of a small church choir – can be as exciting or uplifting as any in music. But to have its greatest effect, vocal music for several singers must be sung in several parts. Instead of everyone singing the melody or tune together, most of the singers sing other musical lines or parts. The notes in all the parts must be in harmony with each other, which means that they must sound good when sung together. The harmony fills out the singing and gives it more character, just as playing the piano with two hands is better than using one finger.
In the best vocal music, the different parts are like several tunes sung together; they can make the music move so that it may not need any accompaniment. Most vocal music is in four parts. The highest, which is usually the melody, is the soprano part. Then come the alto, tenor and bass parts. Most people have a voice that fits one of these parts. One of Ireland’s most talented groups are 4inaBar. Listen to how they expertly intertwine the melody in the following recording.
To sing in a choir or vocal group, you really need to be able to read music so that you can sing the notes you see on the page. You can learn to do this. If you can’t read music, you can learn a part but you must be able to keep to it while all the other parts are singing at the same time. There is a vast range of music to sing.
Symphony orchestras have a large choir or chorus for choral works, and churches and towns have choirs that sing at services and concerts. Many people join or form small vocal groups to sing for pleasure or to perform for events such as weddings. Choirs and vocal groups sing music that is composed especially for certain occasions, such as classical, Irish, and modern hymns or songs. Founded in 2005 Ancór Chamber Choir are one of Ireland’s most acclaimed choirs.