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Desh

Has anyone performed Desh by Sperry! Any suggestions. Love the piece but my sopranos don't!
on May 7, 2014 6:08am
We performed this as a large group piece at a summer Western Wind workshop I attended about 7 years ago in Massachussetts.  The whole thing seemed to take on a certain vibrancy of its own, perhaps because it was led with high energy and vigor.  We all responded accordingly, as I remember, and tackled it.  I think it seemed to simply gel after slogging through it a lot, with a firm committment to the rhythms.  Of course, it was probably all a bit loose--we were learning it in four days.  This kind of piece seems to require absolute excitement from its leader.  We had that!  (Maybe some sopranos are notoriously fussy if "their" melody isn't straightforward?)
on May 7, 2014 9:26pm
I did this piece a couple of years ago with my students.  Some of them didn't enjoy it because it was simply beyond them.  Others remember it as one of their favorite pieces.  So, first consider whether or not your ensemble is up to the challenge of the asymmetric rhythms and the non-Western tonal patterns.  If tcritical he challenge is too great, motivation is difficult to generate.
 
A turning point for us was actually working with Dr. Sperry in a clinic.  A couple of thoughts from him that were really helpful:
 
--The rhythmic speech is critical to holding the piece together; make sure it is prominent enough to keep everyone metrically in sync--it really is equal in importance to the melodic lines.
--The different rhythmic syllables should be pitched differently within the voice.  "Tom," for example, from my understanding, should be spoken in the mid-low range; the "di-mi" should be pitched higher.  I found it helpful for my students who weren't at the clinic to watch a video of Ravi Shankar demonstrating the actual use of these syllables in teaching a tabla player (search in YouTube and you can find a couple).
 
I also think that explaining a little bit about the systems/structures of Indian classical music is helpful for the singers to understand and appreciate the piece.  Good luck!
on May 8, 2014 5:56pm
Thank you so much. I showed the video of Ravi Shankar today and it really helped.
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