A Cure for Singing Flat

Found on the floor whilst clearing up after a recent rehearsal:

Dear Andrew,

From time to time, you have the distressing duty to complain to the tenors (perhaps not always entirely without justification) about singing flat. May I humbly suggest that there is, in fact, a very simple remedy to the problem, which you might like to apply.

From a scientific perspective, it seems plain to me that the problem is simply a matter of Newton's law of gravity: the notes sink under their own weight. (The reason why the black notes often do not seem to sink as fast as the see-through ones is something I'm still applying my mind to. Perhaps a few tenors would care to join me around the piano one week after the rehearsal, in order to perform a few scientific experiments.)

In the light of this, the remedy is plain. All we have to do is to hold our parts upside down, and perhaps lightly tap the spines of our scores with a pencil, in order that the notes might sink back to their correct pitch. Perhaps our accompanist (a thoughtful young man) might object that we would then be unable to read the music. However, as a tenor of many years standing, I can assure you that it would make no difference at all.

Yours sincerely,

Tony Tenore.

A reply came to light a few weeks later:

Dear Tony,

I read your letter re the sinking notes, with interest. May I be so bold as to put forward an answer as to why the black notes do not sink faster than the see-through ones? If you can imagine them in 3D, then it may be that the see-through ones are larger - after all, they are twice the value - and this would then cause sinking at the same rate. This does not, however, account for the see-through notes with no handles - and here I confess to being somewhat baffled. They are, of course, of quadruple value and being the more important may be larger, or even filled with a different gas. As you will know from a scientific perspective, gasses do vary in weight. If this were so, it could be that they will fall or rise at an equal pace - in time with each other - as the maestro would wish.

Yours sincerely,

Soprano Señora

©Philip Le Riche, 2005

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