Thursday, February 24, 2005

Two interviews

I started my day off yesterday with a follow-up interview with the director of the new choir, and an interview with its chairman. they were both fascinating, and really are lovely, interesting, thoughtful people to speak to.

On my way to the first interview, however, I was approached by someone who asked if I was on my way to class. Nothing unusual about that, except that this particular university is the site of a lot of unrest at present, linked to the combining of this university with two other tertiary institutions. Her question immediately made me wonder whether I was about to be harassed. I explained that I wasn't a student there, and was there for a meeting, and she apologised and moved on, but the incident, and my instinctive reaction, stuck with me.

The first interview with the director was interesting mainly in that it gave me some insight into the process of auditioning choristers, and the background to running a choir like this. I gathered a lot of technical info, which I will need to process very carefully in order to understand how it works. One of the oft-mentioned 'issues' with singing, is that so much of it is an inexact science. The director, or vocal coach, or whoever, uses abstract imagery to describe processes that while physical, are often only partly under the control of the singer. Part of this is because we can't see the singing mechanism, and so it is difficult to alter, or manipulate, it in a measurable way. The other is that what constitutes beautiful singing is such a subjective issue that it is impossible to give difinitive instructions for its achievement.

the interview that followed this one was with the young, energetic and enthusiastic chairman of the choir. It was held in a rather noisy restaurant, as he obviously has no office, and while fascinating, I am a little nervous of the quality of the recording. He had a rather different perspective from the last chorister I interviewed, as he is much more enthusiastic about the potential of the combined choir. He likes the idea of a mixed sound, whereas the previous chorister was sceptical about its musical value. He enjoys singing more energetic music, whereas the other chorister prefered the earlier, more tonal/timbral oriented music. It was great to get both perspectives.

Despite the value of this interview to my project, it left me feeling insecure about the whole process of research, as i became very aware of the artificiality of the relationship I was creating. I would really like to build relationships with these people. I am interested in them as more than just 'choristers', or 'research subjects', and I don't know how to bridge that gap.

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