Monday, February 4, 2008

Call and Answer

I love to hear a music group that has practiced together and they anticipate each others' actions. Maybe its the "exchange" that is so intriguing and captivating. Its really amazing to watch this exchange because you know that what they are performing has been practiced hours upon hours in reahearsal. Its not just getting up on the stage to perform something mechanically or by rote. Rather, its filled with excitemtent and there's a subtle give and take going on. You can tell the performers are feeding off of the performance of their fellow performers. Its no fun and almost impossible to be an active listener in a performance where you have robotic "music" with no exchange either by the performer to the performer OR by the performer to the audience and back to the performer. I used quotations for the word music in the last sentence because, yes, it is still considered music although I hate to admit it. Music by definition is simply organized sound. Most assuredly this IS organized sound, yet lacking the zeal. I've seen this incredible exchange take place at concerts, church, broadways and other musicals or music dramas.

There was a documentary on Black Gospel music that spoke of this "Call" and "Answer" phenomenon. Black Gospel music as we know it today had its roots in Africa with the intricate rhythms. Those captured and enslaved brought the rhythms with them to the Americas where they heard the white peoples' proper singing and added their twist to it. They were able to sing their music, many of them known as Negro Spirituals today, after the plantation owner and his family left for business, church, or a social call. A lot of their music had this "call" and "answer" displayed in it. For example: Call: I'm a soldier; Answer: In the army of the Lord. Another example: Call: What do you think about Jesus; Answer: He's alright. I am sitting here thinking how many times this applies in our daily life as well as in our music study and performance. When you converse with someone you expect feedback. If you don't receive it, it becomes a onesided conversation and rather boring. The preacher behind the pulpit also sends a "call" to the audience and the church responds with "Amen!" or "Preach it!" A dead congregation is a difficult church to preach to. A concert pianist who is on the stage alone bears his soul through his music and the audience answers with applause at the end. The choir, under the direction of the conductor, sings to the audience (not the conductor) and receives answer from the congregation.

All that to say, last night I had the opportunity to sing with Sis.Holly ( and Uncle Cletus (whose wife is at We sang the trio part to an old Hawkins song called "Marvelous". It was a blast to sing and feed off of each other... even during practice. The call and answer was so much fun to be a part of. Uncle Cletus did a terrific job on the solos and Sis.Holly did wonderful on the add lib throughout the song. But the greatest call and answer of all is that the Holy Ghost moved and He answered our call last night.


Jana Allard said...

It is obvious if the chemistry is missing. Great post.

Misha said...

Hey! I heard you're going to be here tomorrow!? What time?
And as far as recipes...myyy goodness, I will do a blog juuust for you. I'll post my most recent easy dinner dish. I made it when Sarah, Janelle and Matt came over. It's such a winner!!

Janell said...

I wish I could have heard and seen you guys sing! I miss hearing you sing at church! Great post...and I love that pic you posted with it.
Are you excited about Heather Short coming out there? =) Maybe you can get her to sing too! I've never her heard her sing solos, but she's my choir buddy in choir. (We would laugh and talk and stuff all the time. Luckily we didn't get in trouble too much) She sings pretty, so I'm sure she could be of help to you. See you this weekend!!!!,

Anthony said...

ya'll did a great job on that song!...

Music Eloquence said...

Sis.Allard, as a musician and vocolist, I know you understand completely what I am talking about.

Meesh, yes... I'm here!!! =) Our plane was delayed and we didn't arrive until 11pm. I was exhausted because that's 1am for us.
I would be thrilled if you did a recipe post just for me... =D I love the cheap, quick and easy recipes best. But if its really good I'll put in the work lol. Yes, please do the blog.

Janell, Aww I miss singing with you all too. We had fun (I even like singing with you at CSUS... what fun that was).
Yes, I'm thrilled Heather is moving to AL. We're going to have a blast. Yes, she is musical, she even took piano lessons for a while. She's got MORE than the goods. =)

Anthony, thank you! Any more Ted stories? I'll have to go see for myself... lol

Anonymous said...

Von de Leigh, this is a powerful post. It's the kind of writing one thinks about for days. So many lessons, so many reminders are encapsulated here.

Thank you so much for this column. It is truly beautiful.

Shirley Buxton