The German contingent has arrived from Duesseldorf, and several smaller and one extended rehearsal later we find ourselves on the eve of recording our very first Christmas album. 9 languages, three arrangers, 12 tunes - it's thrilling to go into the studio with these guys tomorrow. The fabulous Johannes Weidenmueller will join us for the recording date.
It is going to kick butt! It is going to be epic! And it's all going down at Lofish!!
Elisabeth Lohninger, voice
Walter Fischbacher, piano
Axel Fischbacher, guitar (not related, btw)
Johannes Weidenmueller, bass
Ulf Stricker, drums
I found a rock, and I sat on it, its ridged surface without comfort, without a handhold. The ocean's foamy edge gushed over the rocky lip, a definitive demarcation line:
this far, and no further.
In - out.
And another after that.
Like a rung on a ladder, each breath held the promise of an end.
An end to the pain.
To the roiling turmoil so vividly acted out by the surrounding scenery.
Each promise kindled the fledgling seed of hope, delivering a fresh supply of air to a spark threatened by the all-consuming darkness.
Hope was not lost that day. The spark flickered alive once more, to carry me through the night, so that I would witness, again, the miraculous break of dawn.
Ah - the cursed twang! It goes against everything I have grown up with, as far as the dulcet sounds of my native Austrian tongue go. The German dialect I grew up speaking is shaped in round, dark vowels, interspersed with half swallowed consonants that get dragged even further down my gullet by a low, low tongue. As far as singing German opera goes, the language is stupendously suitable. However, don't ever try to sing anything but that! Unless, of course, you are willing to sprint so far outside of your comfort zone that every vowel and consonant feels as unfamiliar to you as the third star to the left on the belt of Orion, and you have to start from scratch, reassembling the shards of old habits into something bendy and malleable.
Now - American English, with all it's chewing gum cowboy inflections and, topographically not quite as far outside of New York, Long Island "twang", has a definite advantage, when it comes to stepping outside the somber, dramatic opera of Central Europe. Of course there are vocal technique issues with American English speakers. They are just a different set from mine. But the linguistic divide that comes into play when working on vocal technique that allows you to be a versatile, modern vocalist, is, at least, notable.
With my own students, I find it interesting that, in essence, every single Japanese singer I've worked with, shares some of the same issues (that blasted "ue" sound that doesn't want to open up), as does ever French and, yes, American one. Of course each student has his or her own set of obstacles to deal with, but some generalizations definitely do apply.
And thus, my friends, I shall continue to hoist the dorsal part of my tongue up and stubbornly continue in my quest for the elusive twang. In the end, no matter what our mother tongue may be, our goal as vocalists is the right distribution of effort, so that we can get out of our way and start expressing what's already there.
Brighton Beach ain't the Carribean, but it's close enough. At least for this New Yorker stranded in the Northern Hemisphere and too far away from the turquoise waters of Isla Mujeres.
There was a leathery specter on the patch of blanket a few staked claims over, who was way beyond skin cancer concerns. The police rifled through the lay-abouts and plucked the recreational pot users from the masses but ignored the surreptitiously stored open containers and the paper bag-less bottles of cold Corona.
Sunburns blossomed with abandon, cooled by the occasional dip in the murky waters of the Atlantic. The orange life guard liberally perused his whistle but refrained from cutting through the waves with the help of his dorky and equally orange float.
Fun was had.
Pizza was eaten.
The beach promised, beckoned and delivered.
And the Q train, predictably, was full enough for me to enjoy my ride standing up all the way to Union Square.