I’m still in love with Walking on Broken Glass by Annie Lennox…
WOBG features various rhythmic and musical motifs and it was these that I explored and untangled from the track to re-build again for Rock Choir.
When I was an A-level teacher I reverted to this song to find a way of breaking down the complications of music into small chunks and these motifs proved perfect.
My students would use percussion instruments and beat the motifs out layering them all up together in teams. It helped them understand how to identify simple building blocks allowing them to start creating their own music.
The various vocal lines in WOBG along with the memorable piano lines, layer together to produce a fairly impressive texture that is simple if pulled apart but sound complicated when put together.
I never want my Rockies to feel overwhelmed with the songs but it’s good to push sometimes and ask them to commit to more complicated sections so they experience a sense of achievement when they’ve nailed it! The chorus in ‘Halo’ is another good example of this.
If everything was easy all the time there wouldn’t be a sense of journey or accomplishment. The particularly complicated part of the song in this sense is towards the end where the Upper Altos and Upper Sopranos respond to one another with a complicated set of phrasing, “Don’t let me keep on walk-ing..” underpinned by the rest of the choir who help build the tension over repetitive strong ‘foot-steps’ “keep on walk-ing, keep on walk-ing…” The solo line adds to the complications and then everyone bursts into the finale and the earlier motifs return as we end the song together with an ad-lib solo line to help engage the audience right up to the end. And all the way through this impressive piece of work is a driving energy that gets us going – that makes us want to engage with it, that creates the strong rhythm that roots us to the song.
That makes us feel alive! And that’s what we want isn’t it?!