Page 84 - Voice for Life Songbook 1
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                                21. Amazing grace
Track 21
This lively arrangement of Amazing grace is in a blues style.The hymn was written in the eighteenth century by John Newton, who worked on a slave ship. During a violent storm at sea he began to wrestle with his conscience and turned to the Bible for answers. He was inspired by the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15, the themes of which he takes up in his famous hymn. Later in his life he helped to influence law makers to abolish the slave trade within British colonies and emancipate the slaves held there.
Teaching the song
There are several different variations of this melody.Test your singers’ music reading skills by asking them to stick to the score rather than just singing the version that is most familiar to them.
When teaching the descant, ask your singers to sing the start of the verse and then stop on the first note of the descant. Once secure, ask them to think the melody line in their heads in order to help them find their note and only sing the descant part.
Take care of tuning in the descant in bar 11. If you want to rehearse this bar slowly to work on intonation, sing it down an octave initially so as not to tire the singers’ voices.They will have no problem singing it at pitch when you ask them to.
Using the voice well
In bar 13 the singers on the descant part may find it helpful to add a silent ‘h’ at the start of the word ‘Alleluia’. This will help them to get the air flowing so that they can glide in smoothly, rather than accenting the note with a glottal stop.
Be creative
If the choir are to perform the song to an audience rather than singing it as a congregational hymn, think about how to achieve variety and contrast between the verses.You can do this by changing the dynamics or by giving a verse to a soloist or semichorus.
Musical skills and understanding
In 12/8 there are twelve quavers in a bar divided into four dotted crotchet beats.When subdividing the beat, count ‘1-and-a, 2-and-a, 3-and-a, 4-and-a’. It is this that gives the arrangement the ‘swung’ feel.
Can you identify the ornament in the first bar of the piano introduction in the right hand? (It is an acciaccatura or crushed note).
In bars 11–16, can you identify where the descant part moves by semitone and where it moves by a tone? The coda (end section) at bar 22–24 of this arrangement quotes another piece of music. Do you know
what it is or who it is by? (Rhapsody in blue by Gershwin).
What do the figure 2s over the notes mean? (These are called duplets and indicate that two notes are to
be sung in the time of three.) 84

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