Singing is a very social activity. Through the ages, in every culture, there are songs and chants to help workers get through tasks, bringing them together.
Many of these are call and response, such as sea shanties keeping rope hauling in time and an effective way keep everyone amused while working.
There are Scottish Highland songs for weaving and felting and the colliers have many a song to keep track of each other in the mines. There are songs that have helped prison workers and chain gangs get through the monotony and hardships of their labours and isolation.
There are army marching songs with amusing lyrics, but also for keeping the marching step uniform. There are songs for saying goodbye, or more hopeful songs of farewell such as ‘We’ll meet again’.
Children’s nursery rhymes teach vocabulary and even contain messages to pass on warnings, but mostly they are fun to sing and keep young people entertained.
Nearly all religions use song or chanting as part of their collective worship. A meditative state can often be achieved by many, or used as a way to emphasise particular religious teachings.
The charts are filled with so many songs expressing love and emotion, in so many ways, each artist with their own style. But just look at how they fill the arenas and stadiums, with hundreds and thousands of fans all singing along to their favourites.
All these songs bring us together. We sing together in good times and bad times. It is a cleansing of the soul, a workout for the body, a challenge for the mind… and hopefully pleasing on the ear! All these songs bring us together as part of a community. We come together, breathe together, and join in song, together.
Humanity is expressed through song.
Singing is my main form of relaxation. And as much as I like to sing my own thing, singing with friends is for me the most uplifting experience. It had kept me going through the darkest of times, and helped me celebrate the best of times.
Yet now I find myself in a totally new situation. Anxious about the current crisis and wondering when and if we will get through this. And now I’m alone, singing by myself. My choir meets virtually, and we need to chat to for reassurance and hope. It is always lovely to see them, and we know we are all singing at the same time, but the current technology can not enable us the togetherness require for our a cappella singing.
There will always be a lag time, however small, and different for each user. It’s ok if you all sing along to a backing track, and you can see all the other smiling faces, but unless prerecorded, we cannot synchronise. It turns out we not only need to hear each other, but we do actually listen to each other. Sometimes, not always, we get it right and it is a beautiful thing. It is not the same. I can not hear anyone else sing. I am no longer part of a wider community.
I understand that we need to do this to try and protect people, and I am following all the new rules and guidelines. I hope it works and we will all meet again soon.
About the Author – Shelly Richman sings in ‘The BlueBelles’ a female A Capella Group in Wiltshire lead by Jules Addison.