Monday, December 20, 2004

Singing at welsh rugby games 

Went to Twickenham last weekend to watch the Ospreys play the Harlequins. Harlequins were a poor team and we dutifully put them to the sword. There was great Welsh support in the crowd; I suspect many ex-pats from London had come along to cheer with us.
Some great singing of:

Calon Lan
Bread of Heaven
Hymns and Arias
Hen Wlad fy Nhadau
Stick your Chariots

There are a few points I'd like to make about the performance of such songs:

1) Pitching the song. If you are unable to pitch a song, then please do not be the one to start singing it. Designate someone in your group who in musically minded and ply them with drinks. They are the one who should start all songs. The national anthem is possibly one of the most beautiful melodies ever composed; it should never sound like cats being strangled, it should never be subjected to hundreds of people forcibly down-shifting the pitch in the first line of the song.
Remember that there is an octave jump from the 1st note to the 1st note in the 3rd bar, so you can mess it up almost as soon as you begin. Here's a tip. Remember the very beginning of the Hi-Ho song before the real melody begins, the low-Hi and the hi-Ho. These two notes are an octave apart, so if you start the anthem on the Hi, you need to make sure the Ho is comfortable. Get your Hi and Ho at the correct level and the pitch of the song should fall into place.

2) Delilah. This one winds me up no end. The lines at the end of the FIRST chorus are:
"I could see that girl was no good for me, but I was lost like a slave that no man could free". They are NOT:
"So before they come to break down the door, forgive me Delilah I just couldn’t take anymore"
Nobody ever gets this right! Not only are you missing out on singing the best line in the song (the rhythm required to fit this in with the notes is fun, and you can really go to town with a emotive delivery) "but I was lost like a slave that no man could free" - but you are also spoiling the narrative. Our protagonist is telling his story and you are screwing it up. He is waiting for the police to find him, he's remorseful and is telling the story of the events leading up to this desperate situation; but this is only to be revealed at the end of the song, you are spoiling the ending by revealing it before he has even admitted the murder. Imagine someone hearing this song for the first time at a rugby match (a small child perhaps, in the process of being schooled by his elders on basic morality). Imagine how confused they would be:

Why will bad people break down the nice man’s door daddy? Why is the nice man asking nasty Delilah for forgiveness daddy, he’s done nothing wrong other than falling in love with the wrong woman (and a minor stalking incident)? It’s just not fair.

Son, listen, you are about to learn a very valuable lesson today. Sometimes life is not… Oh hang on… forget what I was just saying, they’ve just missed out a couple of lines and jumped straight to the ending.

3) “Dad, what does ‘fucking chariots up your arse' mean?
Keep rugby a family game. I would like to see this made less football-chant like and changed to: “you can go and stick your chariots up your arse”, and it should only be sang as a response to the sweet chariots song.

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