Who doesn’t love this song? It was such a great choice because it allows guys to be raucous and loud but also has some interesting challenges. So, to avoid a screaming contest, let’s talk a bit about how to make this piece musical and interesting, while preserving the spirit of the text.
When I was 15, I was notorious for overdoing articulation and diction… let me know tell you… it is tiring! Over-articulating also affects the vocal technique, tone, and legato. If you are trying so hard to spit out articulation, it may even obscure the pitch you’re singing!
When singing Fight the Good Fight singers should always strive for a legato, vowel to vowel approach, regardless of the alla marcia suggested by the composer.
Alla Marcia is the tempo indication, which means “like a march.” Fight the Good Fight is upbeat, jaunty, and should have a march-like quality with crisp and accurate consonants. You can just listen to the opening bars of accompaniment to get a feel for this, but, remember, don’t sacrifice the beauty of your tone to adhere to this marking.
In short: Think of your consonants as crisply marching and your vowels as legato.
Marking your score
I do not typically color most music I prepare (unlike Natalie!), but for Fight the Good Fight (Poulenc’s Gloria, too), high-lighting the meter changes is important to aid counting this piece correctly. I also think it is a good idea to write in counts (1-2-3-4) during all rests throughout the score, especially for abrupt changes in dynamics and articulation.
Suggestions for marking your score:
- Highlight every meter change (for example: 6/8 changing to 2/4)
- Cutoffs should be marked with an ending consonant on the following rest with shadow vowel if applicable
– For example: for the word “God” (dih written on the rest)
– When a quarter is tied to an eighth note cross out the eighth note and mark consonant on that note instead
- In measures where meter changes, write the counts of the previous measure and new meter
– Remember to write in the counts for the introduction and during interludes, too!
- Highlight every dynamic change with a different color
- When given several rests to breathe, take the breath the beat or two before your entrance and mark where you plan to begin your inhale. Don’t let the spirit of the piece affect the way you breathe, which should always be low, slow, and calm.
Each verse has diverse dynamic markings that not only indicates volume, but an emotional connection to the text. Here are some tips to make music with the dynamics.
- I suggest speaking the text with no rhythm (like a poem) to find the emotional connection to the dynamic- THEN speak in rhythm with dynamics
- The fortissimo in the score on the first verse should not be forced, but rather have more breath energy (before and while singing). NEVER give a full 100% of your sound, especially right at the beginning!
- Soft singing should never be so soft that it affects tone: All State auditions are SOLO auditions, and even though you are auditioning to sing in a choir, the vocalism should have a rich and projected approach rather than imagining you have someone to blend with.
- Careful NOT to punch the MEN of A-men on measures 48-51. The reason Gardiner has set the “-men” on an eighth note means it should be unstressed, short, and soft. Write a decrescendo here or put a slash through the syllable to help remember this.
- During measures 52-56, however, the “MEN” SHOULD be louder than “A” as that is what Gardiner indicates with a crescendo first and then a subito forte (sF).
- Verses 3 and 4 offer valuable opportunities to show your dynamic range to judges. The 3rd verse starts with piano and little by little grows to a forte dynamic. The 4th verse has a quicker crescendo to forte in one line.
This piece is so fun to scream, so… with me one last time…
*Fight that good fight with all thy miiiiight!*