01 November 2009

Singing in Harmony




My family is a musical one with musical roots. 


I remember, as a small girl, my mom would play the piano, my dad, the guitar, and my brother and I would sing hymns and other songs. 

My dad told my mom to teach me to sing harmony. I had an ear for it and picked it up easily. I've always loved singing harmony. 
I may not know exactly which "part" I'm singing or if it is a mixture of them or even the correct terminology, but
 I love singing it.

     This morning at church, as we sang old familiar hymns and newer ones, I slipped into a harmony part as I usually do, 
while my husband sang the lead in his strong baritone voice.
 Standing next to me was my 11yo son who sometimes sang along with me and sometimes slipped into another part, and next to him, 
was my 13yo daughter who was singing yet another part. 

In my mind's ear, 
I could hear our other children singing parts from years past when they all still lived at home and we could go to church together. 
Such has been our singing experience through the years. 

     When my children were small,
 I always made a point to have a hymnbook open so I could move my finger along the words and notes so they could understand the relationship of the notes to the melody. 
As I did that, I would often sing harmony and since they stood near me, this is what they sang as well. 
So it was, that they learned to hear and sing harmony without a lesson in how to do it.

     Singing many different parts that complement and complete the chord is similar to what we do as a family. 

We are not all the same. 
We are very different. 

We can all sing our own part and contribute to the beautiful song.....
or we can all sing our own part and introduce dischord and noise.......
it is important to know the difference
 and to "hear" the harmony and
 to resist the "dischord".

      In THE SILMARILLION by JRR Tolkien, we are told of the beginnings of Middle Earth. 
If you will permit me, 
I'd like to share just the beginning of that book: 
             
"There was Eru, the One, who in Arda is called Iluvatar; and he made first the Ainur, the Holy Ones, that were the offspring of his thought... 
 And he spoke to them, propounding to them themes of music...  but for a long while they sang only each alone, or but a few together, while the rest hearkened;
 for each comprehended only that part of the mind of Iluvatar from which he came, and in the understanding of their brethren they grew but slowly. 
 Yet ever as they listened they came to deeper understanding, and increased in unison and harmony...
        

...Then Iluvatar said to them; 
'Of the theme that I have declared to you, I will now that ye make in harmony together a Great Music. 
 And since I have kindled you with the Flame Imperishable, 
ye shall show forth your powers in adorning this theme, 
each with his own thoughts and devices, 
if he will... 


         ...But now Iluvatar sat and hearkened, and for a great while it seemed good to him, 
for in the music there were no flaws. 
 But as the theme progressed, 
it came into the heart of Melkor to to interweave matters of his own imagining that were not in accord with the theme of Iluvatar; 
for he sought therein to increase the power and glory of the part assigned to himself....

 ...Some of these thoughts he now wove into his music, 
and straightway discord rose about him, 

and many that sang nigh him grew despondent, 
and their thought was disturbed and their music faltered;

 but some began to attune their music to his rather than to the thought which they had at first.....


     In life, it is important to know how to 
stay in harmony and 
to recognize discord...
to "hearken" and to know when it arises. 

 There are occasions when we all sing in unison....
strong and united (as the name implies),
 but most of the time,

 each will sing his own part and 
it can be beautiful indeed.

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