Daily Archives: May 28, 2008

One Of Those “Ah!” Moments

Something a lot of people don’t understand is that singing while playing the cello is hard. People sing while playing guitar all the time; why can’t cellists sing too? Despite how easy Jorane makes it look, it’s really a challenge and it’s something I’ve never really been able to articulate to other musicians other than to say, “No, it’s just hard.”

I finally figured out why, thanks to a thread over at NewDirectionsCello.com. Someone asked why it’s so hard, and why guitarists can do it with greater ease, and someone hit on the answer. It’s because the physicality of playing the cello is more involved and complex than that of playing the guitar. Basically, the movements required and the muscles used include those of the muscles one would use to sing.

To expound: one uses one’s ENTIRE body to play the cello, to especially include the diaphragm and body core (EVERY muscle is highly active in cello performance, to include even the legs and feet). Breathing is extremely important with the cello, ergo a conflict may ensue between the cello and voice.

And that’s a huge part of it. To begin with, it’s hard to sing sitting down, because your torso has less room to expand and there’s less support for the column of air. It’s difficult to keep the muscles in the centre of the body relaxed enough while playing to use them to sing as well. Sure, you could play standing up (again I point to Jorane as an example), but that requires learning an entire new style of physically playing the instrument. Your angles are different, the weight distribution is different, and so forth. And basically it’s hard to use muscles for two different things at once, when each requires so much energy. One might as well ask a saxophonist to tap dance while playing, for example.

Apart from that, other musicians on the thread (who play both instruments) pointed out that the cello seems to take more attention to play. This may be because of all the frequent and freakishly minute muscular changes constantly required to balance movement and direction in both hands and arms, for example. Some say they can sing along only if the cello line is simple enough (and, one imagines, the key). Others have problems with the rhythm of the vocal and the cello lines being different. It’s all food for thought, and provided me with an “Aha!” moment. I know how involved my torso muscles are when I play, and I wonder why I never made the connection before.

Cautiously Optimistic

I think I may have just finished fixing the previously-known-as-the-hearthcraft book to reflect the title change.

And apart from doing some creative paralleling (see me verb your nouns!) in the introduction, it’s pretty much intact and has preserved its dignity. As for mine, well, chances are good no one will even suspect there were changes made. Even you, faithful readers, should you ever read it in published form.

I’m so tired, and the damn headache is killing me. I’ve been taking Tylenol on and off all day, and I can’t bear to listen to music, which is somewhat appalling. It will also make orchestra tonight very interesting.


Today, I got last week’s manuscript evaluation back, with comments and requests for a few tweaks.

The good? I am, apparently, awesome. And looking at the few edits and changes the co-ordinator did in the evaluation, I am more than on the right track; I am in the zone. They love me. Virtual high-fives, everyone! I am an evaluating goddess!

The bad? I need to rework an entire section because I pointed out weaknesses and didn’t suggest solutions. I need this like a hole in my head. (Actually, maybe a hole in my head would solve the perpetual headache I seem to have.) When am I going to do this? Worse, how? I didn’t suggest solutions because I couldn’t see any at the time. [ETA: Oh good; they need it back tomorrow sometime, so I don’t need to turn it around in the next two hours.]

The other bad? I spent so much time making sure that this, my first official MS evaluation, was okay that I ended up diluting the per-project fee down to about $5 an hour. This extra bit is going to further dilute that. I know, I know, I’ll get better; I certainly won’t stress about it and poke at it so much in the future, now that I know the way I handle it is all right.

I need to go take a lot of Tylenol and lie down for a bit. Then I’ll come back to it and give it a shot.

In other news, I think I have a workable new introduction for the previously-known-as-hearthcraft-book, but I am having a lot of trouble facing the rest of the book to find places to insert title-associated information. I’m so disillusioned about it. I can certainly compromise and meet people halfway on projects, and have in the past about certain things, but this is a really, really bitter thing to swallow.