"This began as a way to annoy friends whenever this song played"
December 8, 2017 10:35 AM   Subscribe

 
Not a joke, I had literally honestly taken a sip of liquid before I started this video and almost spewed it

The alto struggle is real. WE ARE PRINCESSES TOO
posted by Countess Elena at 10:49 AM on December 8, 2017 [19 favorites]


Seriously, altos get the short shrift, just like violas.
posted by grumpybear69 at 10:54 AM on December 8, 2017 [7 favorites]


At my law school graduation I sang the Bass 2 part of the Star-Spangled Banner and now that's the only way I'll sing it.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:56 AM on December 8, 2017 [4 favorites]


"Textbook Soprano Behavior" is the worst college a cappella group.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:00 AM on December 8, 2017 [25 favorites]


Combing through the twitter thread, I found this article and... I get this woman on a FUNDAMENTAL LEVEL. Also, all my teenage insecurities are rushing back in a real way.
posted by JustKeepSwimming at 11:04 AM on December 8, 2017 [5 favorites]


Always a wicked stepsister, never a Cinderella
posted by Countess Elena at 11:11 AM on December 8, 2017 [3 favorites]


I always sing the harmony part for the last three bars of Happy Birthday (starting with the second note in the person's name).

It pleases me.
posted by leotrotsky at 11:13 AM on December 8, 2017


As a baritone I feel your pain.

Combing through the twitter thread, I found this article and.

OMG.

you may think about taking up smoking to lend credulity to the vocal choice – don’t, though

Yup. That's it.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:31 AM on December 8, 2017 [4 favorites]


Ms. Walker verifies the aphorism: "Fool around with a soprano if you must, but settle down with an alto."
posted by DrAstroZoom at 11:31 AM on December 8, 2017 [4 favorites]


In middle and high schools my school did an annual big combination concert for all orchestras, and I've had the second violin part to Jingle Bells memorized since then and sing it when Jingle Bells comes on. It is playing an eighth-note open D on the afterbeat (the "and") in a 4/4 measure. Every 4 measures, you play two eighth notes on the final beat. For an entire 2.5 minute long song.
posted by holyrood at 11:56 AM on December 8, 2017 [5 favorites]


doot, doot, doot, doot, doot, doot, doot, doot, doot, doot, doot, doot, doot, doot, doot, do-doot, doot, doot, doot, doot, doot, doot, doot, doot, doot, doot, doot, doot, doot, doot, doot, do-doot
posted by straight at 11:59 AM on December 8, 2017 [5 favorites]


If you altos feel so disrespected by sopranos, feel free to come hang with those of us who can't sing well enough to get into a choir.
posted by Miss Cellania at 12:10 PM on December 8, 2017 [7 favorites]


In middle and high schools my school did an annual big combination concert for all orchestras, and I've had the second violin part to Jingle Bells memorized since then and sing it when Jingle Bells comes on.

* raises hand * Alto part for "Hallelujiah Chorus" here.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:12 PM on December 8, 2017 [3 favorites]


This is really the right time of year for memories of alto harmonies past.

Right now the "Ding Dong" of the alto part of Carol of the Bells is going through my head.
posted by JustKeepSwimming at 12:20 PM on December 8, 2017 [8 favorites]


Pour one out for any college a cappella kids having to learn the "instrumentation" to "Simply Having a Wonderful Christmastime" right about now.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:33 PM on December 8, 2017 [1 favorite]


Just sang second alto in a concert where the second half of Alice Munroe's Hark I Hear the Harps Eternal has the second altos planted firmly on an f-natural forever.

Lovely melody for those damn sopranos though.
posted by rekrap at 12:54 PM on December 8, 2017


I love every part of this, especially the sopranos making sure to declare their sopranosity when resharing. JUST SO NO ONE GETS THE WRONG IDEA!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:02 PM on December 8, 2017 [16 favorites]


but they gave it to you because no one else can do it.

My mother told me the EXACT SAME THING about my many childrens theater casting disappointments:

* Cowardly Lion in Wizard of Oz
* Mama Bear in Goldilocks
* The Mom Sheep in Babe
* Scarecrow the other time we did Wizard of Oz
* Mrs. Potts in Beauty and the Beast.

But I KNEW that she meant that I was the tallest girl in the cast and thus HAD to play the mom to kids who were 5 years older than me.
posted by muddgirl at 1:41 PM on December 8, 2017 [4 favorites]


oh my gosh, I linked this to a music teacher friend and it turns out she's a soprano chauvinist

you think you know someone
posted by roger ackroyd at 1:42 PM on December 8, 2017 [7 favorites]


It takes a while to get to the joke, but Alto's Lament has you covered.
posted by davejay at 1:43 PM on December 8, 2017 [13 favorites]


For us basses, we had to suffer the indignity known as THE TENORS. What pompous asses they were!

My high school teacher tried to make the situation right by calling us “bassos profundos” but some things never changed: it was always the effing tenors that were making out with the sopranos and altos at State.

Nope. Not bitter at all. ;)
posted by zooropa at 3:18 PM on December 8, 2017 [1 favorite]


This is why, as a baritone, I worked SO HARD to become a tenor. It didn't happen.

When a song we like plays, my brother and I always sing along, and we both ALWAYS go for the harmony part instead of the melody. He's on T now, so he can do the low parts he couldn't before. I gamely try to go high... but it's still not happening :)
posted by infinitewindow at 3:33 PM on December 8, 2017 [2 favorites]


This is delightful.
posted by Songdog at 4:31 PM on December 8, 2017


I always sing the harmony part for the last three bars of Happy Birthday

I do this, too. I heard someone do it once at a party long ago, and it was so nice to hear I just started doing it from then on, as well.
posted by linux at 4:45 PM on December 8, 2017 [1 favorite]


As a percussionist since the 5th grade, I can relate to everyone here. Jingle Bells on the, er, jingle bells: shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake rest rest rest (repeat)
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 5:47 PM on December 8, 2017 [3 favorites]


tenor part of Zadok the Priest represent …
posted by scruss at 6:13 PM on December 8, 2017


> As a percussionist since the 5th grade, I can relate to everyone here. Jingle Bells on the, er, jingle bells: shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake rest rest rest (repeat)

I'm with you, I had to play the bells marching in a Christmas parade. I think we played that song four times in a row.
posted by karlshea at 9:07 PM on December 8, 2017


I know the alto line to all the Christmas carols. All of them. And I got to play Aunt Polly in my middle school production of Huck Finn—despite being probably shorter than everyone else in the show.
posted by leahwrenn at 9:12 PM on December 8, 2017


Relatedly, due to having played cello in fifth and sixth grades my mental image of the Brandenburg Concerto #5 is a weird mix of the cello and violin parts: bomm bomm bomm bomm beedle-deedle-deedle-deedle bomm bomm bomm bomm bom. Some things stay with you, no matter how many times you've listened to the full recording.
posted by Lexica at 9:21 PM on December 8, 2017 [1 favorite]


OK, so here's the deal. I'm a soprano (of course I had to say that) and yeah, we definitely get to sing the best parts in choruses. But you know why we lord it over the altos? Because they are way more likely to be able to sing, you know, the styles of music that music-obsessed teenagers actually want to sing. Not a whole lot of sopranos who can rock out or belt out a show tune. I mean, of course the best superstar-level female singers usually have huge ranges and can belt at all octaves, but if you're talking about your standard 16-year old drama geek, it's gonna be the alto who can belt out "I Dreamed a Dream" or a Hole song at the talent show (no, these very era-specific references are not from my own teen disappointments, why do you ask?).
posted by lunasol at 10:57 PM on December 8, 2017 [8 favorites]


Hahaha I relate; there is a joke among shape note altos that our lines are written on a keyboard like this.

I haven't found enough chances to sing my Christmas carol alto parts in public, though...
posted by batter_my_heart at 12:55 AM on December 9, 2017 [4 favorites]


lunasol, as a fellow soprano, I favourited your comment so hard. I would love to belt out a good showtune or a nice gravelly alternative rock song, but I can't!
posted by tickingclock at 2:58 AM on December 9, 2017 [1 favorite]


Why does it have to be that way, though? Why can‘t altos carry the tune instead? Is it just this performative femininity thing where everyone fetishizes the high notes?

(Mezzo speaking, who tried to avoid singing alto in school because she wanted to feel like the lead, not the support.)
posted by Omnomnom at 10:10 AM on December 9, 2017 [2 favorites]


When you get into deep choral music - your St. Matthew Passions, Bach cantatas, polyphonic motets and the like - the 1st soprano parts are just as awful, but probably in a different way, to the linked video, with endless notes above high C because they were writing for freaking castrati.
posted by fiercekitten at 11:00 AM on December 9, 2017


I sang in a few high school choirs, and then dropped singing for 10 years, and then found (of all things!) a Barbershop chorus. Barbershop has its problems, for sure, but one of them ISN'T putting the melody on the top line. Barbershop has the melody in the second-highest part, with the highest part usually full of 3rds and 7ths. They're pretty good for altos who want the melody, just sayin'.
posted by Fraxas at 2:58 AM on December 10, 2017


A friend of mine is a talented alto who tried to make it in musical theater, but got tired of constantly having to play the "funny" female character.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 3:03 AM on December 10, 2017


I've had the second violin part to Jingle Bells memorized since then and sing it when Jingle Bells comes on. It is playing an eighth-note open D on the afterbeat (the "and") in a 4/4 measure. Every 4 measures, you play two eighth notes on the final beat. For an entire 2.5 minute long song.

On a related note: back in my high school days, the marching band would get pulled in to play Pomp and Circumstance at the graduation ceremonies. Do you know what the trombone part to Pomp and Circumstance is?

It is ALL THE QUARTER NOTES IN THE WORLD FOR ALL ETERNITY. Just bomp-bomp bomp-bomp bomp-bomp bomp-bomp over and over and over and over again until the sun burns out.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 6:49 AM on December 10, 2017 [2 favorites]


You guys are basically describing all the reasons some jerk invented slap bass.
posted by uncleozzy at 7:02 AM on December 10, 2017


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