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  • Writer's pictureKaren Pauley

Week 3: Sing Space 16 Bar Challenge

Updated: Feb 7, 2022

This week the genre is Character Songs with a choice between, I'm Breaking Down, from The Falsettos, and Hard To Be The Bard, from Something Rotten. I decided to go with Hard To Be The Bard, as getting cuts in two keys means that I can sing the male piece when normally I wouldn't get the chance to sing this song.

The masterclass was taught by Nigel Richards and I was able to watch this via catch-up on Wednesday morning. I loved the class as it was practical and focused on the acting and not on the singing. Learning a new character song in a few days is not easy as you need to master the words and the required vocal techniques and then you need to let that go and focus on telling the story.

The Bard, William Shakespeare, is played as a Renaissance rock star and that's a big character to play. In the full version of the song you can hear chord progressions reminiscent of Queen making you think of Freddy Mercury. In one of the Bard's other songs in the show you can hear the Prince guitar licks included in the piece. My first attempts at this involved trying to play it like a male rock star, but in the end I decided against that and looked at female artists and sex symbols. I was also interested in the differences in the character when they are alone and when they are in public - as they are always being watched when they are in public spaces.

Vocally I decided to go for a contemporary sound with pop and rock stylings. In some practice version it had more growls and leaned more to the rock sound, but for the taping I had planned to not try to force any sort of vocal effect and just see what happened. One of the things I did like, on watching it back, was that I didn't belt the the slide from the A4 to C5. I do like there to be variety in the way that similar notes are sung, in the same way you need variety in a monologue when you say the same word repeatedly, and in this case I enjoyed the sound of the flip.

The piece is very wordy and I spent quite a lot of time during the week just reciting the words in rhythm when I was doing other things. I needed to be very comfortable with them, as trying to remember words will also pull you out of a performance. I also wanted the song to be speech like and for the words to be very clear.

It's hard to know how well it worked out in the end, but I am enjoying the discipline of learning something new every week. I also like watching masterclasses and seeing teachers work with performers. I always learn something new.

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