Opera is when a guy gets stabbed in the back and, instead of bleeding, he sings.
Old musicians never die, they just de-compose.
Ever hear the one about the tenor who was so off-key that even the other tenors could tell?
Questions and Answers
What is the definition of a mezzo soprano?
Just an alto with a soprano’s attitude.
What’s the definition of an alto?
A soprano who can sightread.
What’s the difference between a singer and a terrorist?
You can negotiate with a terrorist.
What’s the difference between a singer and a piranha?
What’s the difference between a singer and a pit bull?
What’s the difference between a singer and the average hurling manager?
The stage makeup.
If you threw a fiddle player and a singer off a cliff, which one would hit the ground first?
The fiddle player. The singer would have to stop halfway down to ask directions.
How do you put a sparkle in a singer’s eye?
Shine a torch in her ear.
How do you tell if a singer is dead?
The wine bottle is still full and the comics haven’t been touched.
Where is a singer’s resonance?
Where their brain should be.
How do you tell if a singer is actually dead?
Hold out a check (but don’t be fooled: a slight, residual spasmodic clutching action may occur even hours after death has occurred).
How does a young man become a member of a choir?
On the first day of school he walked into the wrong classroom.
What is the difference between a world war and a singer?
The singer’s performance causes more suffering.
Why do high singers travel so often?
Keeps assassins guessing.
What’s the definition of an optimist?
A singer with a mortgage.
What is the difference between a singer and a chimpanzee?
It’s scientifically proven that chimpanzees are able to communicate with humans.
Q: How do you tell when your lead singer is at the door?
A: He can’t find the key and doesn’t know when to come in.
Q: Did you hear about the female opera singer who had quite a range at the lower end of the scale.
A: She was known as the deep C diva.
Q: What is the difference between a Wagnerian soprano and an All-Pro offensive lineman?
A: Stage makeup.
Q: What is the difference between a soprano and a Porsche?
A: Most musicians have never been inside a Porsche.
Q: What is the missing link between the bass and the ape?
A: The baritone.
Q: What is the difference between a Wagnerian soprano and a Wagnerian Tenor?
A: About 10 pounds.
Q: How can you tell when a tenor is really stupid?
A: When the other tenors notice.
Q: What’s the inscription on dead blues-singers tombstones?
A: “I didn’t wake up this morning…”
Person 1: It must be terrible for an opera singer to realize that he can never sing again.
Person 2: Yes, but it’s much more terrible if he doesn’t realize it.
Q: Dad, why do the singers rock left and right while performing on stage?
A: Because, son, it is more difficult to hit a moving target.
Q: Mom, why do you always stand by the window when I practice for my singing lessons?
A: I don’t want the neighbours to think I’m employing corporal punishment, dear.
How Many Singers does it take to change a lightbulb?
Q: How many tenors does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Six. One to do it, and five to say, “It’s too high for him.”
Q: How many lead singers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: One. He holds the bulb while the world revolves around him.
Q. How many alto’s does it take to change a light bulb?
A. None, because they cannot reach it.
Q: How many lead singers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: None. Get the drummer to do it.
This must be heaven
So this trumpet player dies. When he reaches is everlasting reward, the guy in the robe says, “You’re going to spend eternity with this combo, okay? There’s a bass player named ‘Mingus’ and a pianist named ‘Monk’, and any day now we expect this ‘Blakey’ guy to show up with his drums.
“Wow!” the guy says, “I never imagined heaven would be this good.”
The man in the robe says, “This is hell, not heaven. There’s a girl singer.”
As soon as the singer completed a song, the audience were screaming ‘Once More! Once More!’.
The Singer obliged and sang the song again. She couldn’t believe it when the audience screamed for her to sing it again. This was then repeated another ten times.
Then singer overjoyed at the response from the audience thanked them and asked them why they were so interested to hear the same song again and again.
One of the people in the audience replied, ‘we wanted you to improve it, now it’s better.’
A Choristers’ Guide To Keeping Conductors In Line
The basic training of every singer should, of course, include myriad types of practical and theoretical emphases. One important area which is often neglected, however, is the art of one-upmanship. The following rules are intended as guides to the development of habits which will promote the proper type of relationship between singer and conductor.
1. Never be satisfied with the starting pitch. If the conductor uses a pitch-pipe, make known your preference for pitches from the piano and vice-versa.
2. Complain about the temperature of the rehearsal room, the lighting, crowded space, and of a draft. It’s best to do this when the conductor is under pressure.
3. Bury your head in the music just before cues.
4. Ask for a re-audition or seating change. Ask often. Give the impression you’re about to quit. Let the conductor know you’re there as a personal favour.
5. Loudly clear your throat during pauses (tenors are trained to do this from birth). Quiet instrumental interludes are a good chance to blow your nose.
6. Long after a passage has gone by, ask the conductor if your C# was in tune. This is especially effective if you had no C# or were not singing at the time.
7. At dramatic moments in the music (which the conductor is emoting), be busy marking your music so that the climaxes will sound empty and disappointing.
8. Wait until well into a rehearsal before letting the conductor know that you don’t have the music.
9. Look at your watch frequently. Shake it in disbelief occasionally.
10. When possible, sing your part either an octave above or below what is written. This is excellent ear-training for the conductor. If he hears the pitch, deny it vehemently and claim that it must have been the combination tone.
11. Tell the conductor, “I can’t find the beat.” Conductors are always sensitive about their “stick technique” so challenge it frequently.
12. If you are singing in a language with which the conductor is the least bit unfamiliar, ask her as many questions as possible about the meaning of individual words. If this fails, ask her about the pronunciation of the most difficult words. Occasionally, say the word twice and ask her preference, making to say it exactly the same both times. If she remarks on their similarity, give her a look of utter disdain and mumble under your breath about the “subtleties of inflection”.
13. Ask the conductor if he has listened to the von Karajan recording of the piece. Imply that he could learn a thing or two from it. Also good: ask, “Is this the first time you’ve conducted this piece?”
14. If your articulation differs from that of others singing the same phrase, stick to your guns. Do not ask the conductor which is correct until backstage just before the concert.
15. Find an excuse to leave the rehearsal about 15 minutes early so that others will become restless and start to fidget.
Make every effort to take the attention away from the podium and put it on you, where it belongs!
The amazing conductor
When a young hotshot conductor was making his debut at the Met, he showed the jaded and skeptical orchestra how well he knew the music by singing all parts of the Lucia sextet during rehearsal.
Afterwards, one musician was overheard whispering to the other, impressed, “Well, this kid really knows his stuff!”
The other replied, “I don’t think he is so hot. Did you notice how flat his high E was at the end?”
Arriving at Heaven
A soprano died and went to Heaven. St. Peter stopped her at the gate asking, “Well, how many false notes did you sing in your life?”
The soprano answers, “Three.”
“Three times, fellows!” says Pete, and along comes an angel and sticks the soprano three times with a needle.
“Ow! What was that for?” asks the soprano.
Pete explains, “Here in heaven, we stick you once for each false note you’ve sung down on Earth.”
“Oh,” says the soprano, and is just about to step through the gates when she suddenly hears a horrible screaming from behind a door. “Oh my goodness, what is that?” asks the soprano, horrified.
“Oh,” says Pete, “that’s a tenor we got some time back. He’s just about to start his third week in the sewing machine.”
Operas that never made it
Britten: A Midsummer Nightmare.
Mozart: The Magic Tuba.
Puccini: La Bamba.
Rossini: The Plumber of Seville.
C, E-flat and G go into a bar
C, E-flat and G go into a bar. The bartender says, “sorry, but we don’t serve minors.” So E-flat leaves, and C and G have an open fifth between them. After a few drinks, the fifth is diminished and G is out flat. F comes in and tries to augment the situation, but is not sharp enough. D comes in and heads for the bathroom saying, “Excuse me. I’ll just be a second.” Then A comes in, but the bartender is not convinced that this relative of C is not a minor. Then the bartender notices B-flat hiding at the end of the bar and says, “Get out! You’re the seventh minor I’ve found in this bar tonight.”
E-Flat comes back the next night in a three-piece suit with nicely shined shoes. The bartender says, “you’re looking sharp tonight. Come on in, this could be a major development.” Sure enough, E-flat soon takes off his suit and everything else, and is au natural. Eventually C sobers up and realizes in horror that he’s under a rest. C is brought to trial, found guilty of contributing to the diminution of a minor, and is sentenced to 10 years of D.S. without Coda at an upscale correctional facility.
A Fun Guide to the SATB Choir
In any chorus, there are four voice parts: soprano, alto, tenor, and bass. Sometimes these are divided into first and second within each part, prompting endless jokes about first and second basses. There are also various other parts such as baritone, countertenor, contralto, mezzo soprano, etc., but these are mostly used by people who are either soloists, or belong to some excessively hotshot classical a cappella group (this applies especially to countertenors), or are trying to make excuses for not really fitting into any of the regular voice parts, so we will ignore them for now.
Each voice part sings in a different range, and each one has a very different personality. You may ask, “Why should singing different notes make people act differently?”, and indeed this is a mysterious question and has not been adequately studied, especially since scientists who study musicians tend to be musicians themselves and have all the peculiar complexes that go with being tenors, french horn players, timpanists, or whatever. However, this is beside the point; the fact remains that the four voice parts can be easily distinguished, and I will now explain how.
THE SOPRANOS are the ones who sing the highest, and because of this they think they rule the world. They have longer hair, fancier jewellery, and swishier skirts than anyone else, and they consider themselves insulted if they are not allowed to go at least to a high F in every movement of any given piece. When they reach the high notes, they hold them for at least half again as long as the composer and/or conductor requires, and then complain that their throats are killing them and that the composer and conductor are sadists. Sopranos have varied attitudes toward the other sections of the chorus, though they consider all of them inferior. Altos are to sopranos rather like second violins to first violins – nice to harmonize with, but not really necessary. All sopranos have a secret feeling that the altos could drop out and the piece would sound essentially the same, and they don’t understand why anybody would sing in that range in the first place – it’s so boring. Tenors, on the other hand, can be very nice to have around; besides their flirtation possibilities (it is a well-known fact that sopranos never flirt with basses), sopranos like to sing duets with tenors because all the tenors are doing is working very hard to sing in a low-to-medium soprano range, while the sopranos are up there in the stratosphere showing off. To sopranos, basses are the scum of the earth – they sing too damn loud, are useless to tune to because they’re down in that low, low range – and there has to be something wrong with anyone who sings in the F clef, anyway.
THE ALTOS are the salt of the earth – in their opinion, at least. Altos are unassuming people, who would wear jeans to concerts if they were allowed to. Altos are in a unique position in the chorus in that they are unable to complain about having to sing either very high or very low, and they know that all the other sections think their parts are pitifully easy. But the altos know otherwise. They know that while the sopranos are screeching away on a high A, they are being forced to sing elaborate passages full of sharps and flats and tricks of rhythm, and nobody is noticing because the sopranos are singing too loud (and the basses usually are too). Altos get a deep, secret pleasure out of conspiring together to tune the sopranos flat. Altos have an innate distrust of tenors, because the tenors sing in almost the same range and think they sound better. They like the basses, and enjoy singing duets with them – the basses just sound like a rumble anyway, and it’s the only time the altos can really be heard. Altos’ other complaint is that there are always too many of them and so they never get to sing really loud.
THE TENORS are spoiled. That’s all there is to it. For one thing, there are never enough of them, and choir directors would rather sell their souls than let a halfway decent tenor quit, while they’re always ready to unload a few altos at half price. And then, for some reason, the few tenors there are are always really good – it’s one of those annoying facts of life.. So it’s no wonder that tenors always get swollen heads – after all, who else can make sopranos swoon? The one thing that can make tenors insecure is the accusation (usually by the basses) that anyone singing that high couldn’t possibly be a real man.. In their usual perverse fashion, the tenors never acknowledge this, but just complain louder about the composer being a sadist and making them sing so damn high. Tenors have a love-hate relationship with the conductor, too, because the conductor is always telling them to sing louder because there are so few of them. No conductor in recorded history has ever asked for less tenor in a forte passage. Tenors feel threatened in some way by all the other sections – the sopranos because they can hit those incredibly high notes; the altos because they have no trouble singing the notes the tenors kill themselves for; and the basses because, although they can’t sing anything above an E, they sing it loud enough to drown the tenors out. Of course, the tenors would rather die than admit any of this. It is a little-known fact that tenors move their eyebrows more than anyone else while singing.
THE BASSES sing the lowest of anybody. This basically explains everything. They are stolid, dependable people, and have more facial hair than anybody else. The basses feel perpetually unappreciated, but they have a deep conviction that they are actually the most important part (a view endorsed by musicologists, but certainly not by sopranos or tenors), despite the fact that they have the most boring part of anybody and often sing the same note (or in endless fifths) for an entire page. They compensate for this by singing as loudly as they can get away with – most basses are tuba players at heart. Basses are the only section that can regularly complain about how low their part is, and they make horrible faces when trying to hit very low notes. Basses are charitable people, but their charity does not extend so far as tenors, whom they consider effete poseurs. Basses hate tuning the tenors more than almost anything else. Basses like altos – except when they have duets and the altos get the good part. As for the sopranos, they are simply in an alternate universe which the basses don’t understand at all. They can’t imagine why anybody would ever want to sing that high and sound that bad when they make mistakes. When a bass makes a mistake, the other three parts will cover him, and he can continue on his merry way, knowing that sometime, somehow, he will end up at the root of the chord.
If you are a fan of Monty Python, perhaps you’ve heard their song “Decomposing Composers.” Here are the lyrics…
“Beethoven’s gone, but his music lives on,
And Mozart don’t go shopping no more.
You’ll never meet Liszt or Brahms again,
And Elgar doesn’t answer the door.
Schubert and Chopin used to chuckle and laugh,
Whilst composing a long symphony,
But one hundred and fifty years later,
There’s very little of them left to see.
They’re decomposing composers.
There’s nothing much anyone can do.
You can still hear Beethoven,
But Beethoven cannot hear you.
Handel and Haydn and Rachmaninov
Enjoyed a nice drink with their meal,
But nowadays, no one will serve them,
And their gravy is left to congeal.
Verdi and Wagner delighted the crowds
With their highly original sound.
The pianos they played are still working,
But they’re both six feet underground.
They’re decomposing composers.
There’s less of them every year.
You can say what you like to Debussy,
But there’s not much of him left to hear.
Claude Achille Debussy– Died, 1918.
Christophe Willebald Gluck– Died, 1787.
Carl Maria von Weber– Not at all well, 1825. Died, 1826.
Giacomo Meyerbeer– Still alive, 1863. Not still alive, 1864.
Modeste Mussorgsky– 1880, going to parties. No fun anymore, 1881.
Johan Nepomuk Hummel– Chatting away nineteen to the dozen with his mates down the pub every evening, 1836. 1837, nothing.”