Most Choirs are made up of SATB or variants of these groups. Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass. Soprano/Alto being high/low female voice or Tenor/Bass being high/low male voice.
At Helen Vereker Singer’s we tried to organise our singers into the SATB formation, but the singers had other ideas…
May I give you our tongue-in-cheek guide to the different sections in our choir:
Soprano’s (also known as Slops aka Sloppy)
Always happy, smiling and dancing. This is the only group who can sing and dance at the same time, although not always the right steps in the right order. Soprano’s are traditionally known for their high voices, but anything over a high C (C5 if that means anything to you) results in protests that it’s far too high and that the descants should sing that part.
Descant’s (also known as Ringtones)
These lovely ladies take over when the Slops are having a hissy fit. That is when they’ve actually stopped talking (and cackling amongst themselves) to realise that they should be joining in. High notes are an absolute breeze for these ladies. They just inhale copious amounts of air, flutter their eyelashes and hope for the best. It’s quite often not the note you’d hope for and certainly not in the right tone, but at least they tried…! This lovely group are called ringtones after trying to teach them a part to a song. We went over and over (and over and over…) until is sounded like an annoying ringtone. This group is easy to identify. They’re always in the corner gossiping.
Mezzo Soprano’s (also know as teabags)
They’re called Teabags because they sang backing vocals on one arrangement, which consisted of mainly Oohs. They became known as the Ooh Girls, which progressed to becoming Teabags. This is a section of ladies who actually admit they can’t sing the soprano notes (not like the previous mentioned groups) and haven’t developed their inner diva yet. This section always does their homework and pays attention in class. A wonderful group to work with. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take long for them to discover the diva inside, then they switch groups. It has been noted that they usually migrate off into the Alto section…
Altos (also known as Deep Diva’s)
This group is the complete opposite to the Teabags. Rowdy, disruptive, never does their homework…I could go on! Rehearsals or Concerts, they’re always trying to outdo the person standing next to them for attention. This group frequently adds their own parts and harmonies (No, it’s nothing to do with the fact they don’t know what they’re supposed to be singing, or blame me for writing the arrangement differently to how they sing it). Observe this section dancing completely different steps to the rest of the choir too. This is intentional. Their intention however, not mine!
Melody (my lovely Melody section)
I though it would be helpful for the Newbies (new members) and the not so confident singer to be able to just sing along to the song melody, without complicating things with harmonies and backing vocals. I also thought that this would be be most easiest of all the groups to manage. How wrong could I have been. This group gossips more than the Ringtones. There are more diva’s in this section than a tour by a national opera company. This section also competes with the Descants for trying to hit the highest notes during practice and are forever trying to outdo the Alto’s for attention during concerts.
Tenor and Bass
I’m going to let you into a secret here. You will have noticed that I haven’t mentioned the Tenor or Bass parts here. This is because the guys in our choir think they’re special as there’s only a few of them. You will find them in the Melody section standing at the back. They stand at the back for a reason. They don’t want to learn their words off by heart for concerts. If you were to look closely during a performance, the ladies who stand in front of the boys all wear a black rope like necklace. This is actually string. This string is attached to a plastic pocket file, which is worn down the ladies back. These pockets contains the boys lyric sheets, carefully hidden from view. They think I haven’t cottoned on yet..!
As you can see there is amazing camaraderie between the groups. Solid friendships have been formed and the fun and frivolity we have at practice and performances is priceless. Yet despite all the tomfoolery, everyone works so hard to bring together our unique take on popular songs.