Tag Archives: TSO

Why add dynamics?

It’s often one of my least favorite things to do, and I often push it off to the very end. I wrote a song a few months ago called Thou shalt call and the LORD shall answer. My first draft that I gave to the group had no dynamics on it at all. While we rehearsed it, it became evident that we needed to all be on the same page, so I put in some dynamics. It proved difficult to communicate clearly enough for everyone to catch exactly what I meant though, so I updated the score and gave them new ones.

I also noticed at rehearsal that the viola part was a little bit overpowering a few times, and I took out several notes to give the singers more space. It’s a reminder that rehearsal often clarifies things and it’s ok to change things. With the software I have available, it’s a quick thing as well.

Last night at dress rehearsal for the TSO (concert tonight! it’s sold out at the UVU) we were playing an arrangement for Ding Dong! Merrily on High by Heidi Rodeback. We played her arrangement with the choir for the first time, and she was listening. After we had played through the entire program, we got new parts, and played through it again. The entire viola section was disappointed because she had taken out our favorite part. But it’s not important. She decided our favorite part had to go, so that’s how it’s going to be. When you sit in the middle of the orchestra, it is difficult to judge how the balance is working as a whole.

Another note about dynamics. It’s one of the easiest things to change in a piece that’s written. It may say forte, but as you rehearse, your conductor tells you to change it to mezzoforte. Or any other change. But the dynamic marking is a placeholder for a change as much as it is a marking for how loud it is supposed to be. I think I’ll be more careful to put in dynamic markings for any pieces I write. I was going to send in a song to a competition, and I realized I had put in zero dynamic markings. So that’s why I worked through the song again, put in my markings, and wrote this post about why it’s a good idea.