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It’s not all about the performance…

It’s not all about the performance…

It’s about the act of singing, together.”Global Harmony” from Melton Mowbray.

Yes, at the end of each term we perform a concert and it’s always a very enjoyable event. Recently we had a great time (and the audience did too we trust) at Harlaxton Church in Lincolnshire, helping to raise funds for the community’s church. The church was full and the atmosphere was great.

However, I think it’s worth remembering that it’s not all about a performance.

Singing with these fine folk is a privilege. It’s not all about the performance, it’s about the act of singing, together. The whole thing’s bigger than the sum of its parts.

We don’t often get a chance to see film of us singing… but here are a few candid recordings of what we do…

As well as a 40-70 strong choir, us blokes get together when we can and try our hand at ‘things’.  There’s often 8-10 of us but in this instance, it was a challenge as there were only 4 of us available, one on each part – not much room for wobble. But, T, M and D did a great job here, and I think I just kept it together.

This song’s called ‘Kroz Planine’ (Through the Mountains). It’s a Croatian folk song that translates something like this:

Through the mountains and hills, I will spend my youth time, I will ask the cold stone if he has seen my lovely girl, Cold stone says to me: – there is you lovely girl, I go to my lovely girl and kiss her black eyes…  #ahappysong.

I have said before… “Singing, making a noise… what’s it all about… expression?
Have you ever overheard someone singing their own song as they casually walked down the street?
Compare this with the routine recitation of a prescribed composition. The true expression of a feeling, often with a subconscious root, is what it’s about, I think. Rather than trying too hard to tick all the right boxes – just let it out? Relax and express yourself… words, sounds, notes and Musical Direction* are a great help.

Essentially, on a Monday night in Melton, Global Harmony just sing for pleasure, with no specific pressure to “perfect it”. OK, yes, there is gentle pressure to polish off a few rough edges and remember to ‘listen’ so that we’re realise we’re part of a bigger whole, but first let’s just pull the treasure from the ground, polishing the diamond is an ongoing affair.  Our *Musical Director Liz takes us all over the world with a variety of cultures, languages, and rhythms. Liz’s encouragement and enthusiasm is infectious and we are privileged to benefit from her dedication.

If you’re interested, there’s more here: ‘good old sing’ 

You can see some clips of the Choir’s smaller group ‘Close Harmony’ here:

If you fancy joining Global Harmony give it a go! The main choir can be found here:



Sweet Nightingale

It’s St. Piran’s Day on Wednesday, as well as the start of a period of reflection for many people before the festival of Easter and various celebrations of Spring.

I recently found myself transfixed by some birdsong, which caused me to recall this Cornish ditty from my childhood. I can’t place from specifically where I remember this – I guess music is like that, it’s absorbed…

Sweet Nightingale:

Coincidentally, I proposed to my wife on St Piran’s Day in 2003 at Low Bar near Porthleven (my father’s home-town).

We recorded the birdsong on this track in May 2013 at Cribbs Meadow in Rutland

Here are some more Cornish dittys:

Happy St Piran’s day to all Cousin Jacks!


“Time, ferry me down the river…”


Time, ferry me down the river,
Friends carry me safely over
Life, tend me on my journey
Love call me home.
Peggy Seeger – Love Call Me Home

The act of singing releases endorphins, the brain’s “feel good” chemicals. Singing in front of and essentially with others can be even more rewarding.

Singing is arguably a primal action, to express oneself in song – pre-language.  It could be said that, habitual structured language might even inhibit essential expression, feeling, thought and being.

Singing requires deeper breathing. Singing can have some of the same effects as exercise. It’s an aerobic activity: more oxygen into the blood, better circulation, helps with a “good” mood.

Many studies have found that after people take part in a singing programs, over time there are significant decreases in both anxiety and depression levels and that habitual singers find that singing plays a central role in their psychological health. Singing requires attention, it’s hard to worry about work or money or family problems when you’re actively engaged in singing.

The pre-language primal song of course was a group social activity – the war chant, the rain dance, singing down the mine, cries from the plantation, the pub singalong, traditional church singing, celebrations “happy birthday to you” – realisation that you are one of a group, identification, belonging, sharing…

Close&GlobalHarmonyA6In modern (or dare I say post-modern) times, yes there are many clubs, groups, and subcultures that help people to interact (the interaction between things is what makes them fecund), but the act of “really singing” goes much further towards tackling the loneliness that often comes along with our (in?)human current culture.

This week Close Harmony enjoyed an evening in Melton Library.

Close Harmony are a small singing group from Melton Mowbray, made up of members of the large a capella community choir Global Harmony.

Recordings below are recorded with a mobile-phone in the corner of the room: not ideal but you get an impression…

An Thou Were My Ain Thing:

Calon Lan:


Love Call Me Home:

Cancion Mixteca:


Global Harmony & the Rutland Ospreys

Time flies! …as do ospreys! A few weeks ago now we (Global Harmony) had a fantastic evening with the Rutland Osprey Team at the concert A Musical Migration and here’s 2 clips from the evening. #keepsinging

A song from France (The ospreys fly over France) an arrangement of a French song “Tourdion”

And if you’re on facebook here’s another clip:  “Calon Lan” (from Wales of course)

Form more info on the Rutland Water ospreys (now with eggs!!) check out their website:

Also here’s some recent clips from “Close Harmony” –  a small group from the main Global Harmony choir.



Close Harmony at Stathern – (WI Cakes, yum!)

Close Harmony – released on an unsuspecting audience yet again!
A concert for the collective Belvoir Group Women’s Institutes at Stathern Village Hall.
Close Harmony are singing group from Melton Mowbray, attached to the large a capella community choir Global Harmony.  We’re currently made up of a dozen singers led by the ever-encouraging MD Liz.

Tonight’s songs: Cancion Mixteca, Shen Har Venahi, Make Me Feel My Love, Love Call Me Home, Calon Lan, Here There and Everywhere, Happy Together, Idonga Se Jerico, Mravalzamier 4

Oh and WI cakes?! Well… sublime!

Recordings below recorded with a mobile-phone in the corner of the room – not the best but better than a poke in the eye with a stick.

Cancion Mixteca

Shen Har Venahi

Make Me Feel My Love

Love Call Me Home

Calon Lan

Here There and Everywhere

Happy Together

Mravalzamier 4

Idonga Se Jerico – sang with the WI members!

We are Sailing – sang with the WI members!


Rutland Ospreys and Global Harmony

Global Harmony joins Rutland Water Osprey Team for a very special concert.

Saturday March 23rd 7.30 at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Oakham School

A very special evening of audio-visual presentations by the Osprey Tea and songs from the choir tracing the migration path of the Osprey.

Not to be missed!


All proceeds to the Osprey Fund.MusicalMigration
Tickets including refreshments available from:
Anglian Water Birdwatching Centre,
Rutland Water 01572 770651

Music and More, Oakham 01572 756578
Global Harmony 01664 562215
£15 All proceeds to the Osprey Fund.


Close Harmony…

A privilege today to be asked to sing at a wedding – such a special occasion for all involved.

Close Harmony, are a singing group from Melton Mowbray, attached to the large a capella community choir Global Harmony.

We are currently made up of a dozen singers led by the ever-encouraging MD Liz.

Three songs from today:

Shen har venahi – Georgian song of praise

Happy together – The Turtles

Make you feel my love – Bob Dylan

Nice pint and pie in the pub after also!!


Absorbed… (not cool, but true)

I work here

If you know me you’ll know that music is one of those things that floats my boat.  I’ve always had music† in varying forms around me. I, like most, enjoy, value and try to find new ways of seeing through music.
However, it’s been a year or so since I valued any ‘specific’ recorded music. A few artists that I’ve followed for many years have dropped off my list, their output was just not reaching me, and while thousands sang praises about new albums etc they failed to engage me. I found I couldn’t listen to ‘stuff on my list’, it was just not singing anymore. Shuffling through, I would skip, skip, skip and possibly turn it off.
Possibly linked to my period of transition*? I don’t know. I have kept up casually listening to ‘stuff’, with the help of Late Junction, Jools H and Spotify, but, as I say, I was not absorbing any specific artists output? Perhaps the loss of faith in humanity? Perhaps a loss of confidence in past assumptions and values? It’s affected my relationship with music.
However, as you might know, I am revaluing perceptions and pursue a new outlook*.
I recall one specific discovery as a 19 year-old lad, on a grey wintry trip to Woolworth’s in Camborne. I recall reading the lyrics all the way home and… turning on the ghetto blaster in my room… I remember a profound engagement with the sound, the feel, the lyric, the music… OK, it’s not cool, but to me then, it rang of “things bigger”. Since that album, Deacon Blue’s debut album, Raintown. I’ve collected much of their material; the albums, as well as various CD singles from the bargain bin in Woolies. How can you forget such classics as “Dignity”, “Loaded”. “Real Gone Kid”, “Wages Day”, and “Fergus Sings the Blues” etc. Especially when you’ve heard them live in various forms. But more memorable were the album tracks that burned impressions on in brain. I’ve followed Ross and Mcintosh etc and have seen them as a band and individually many times in numerous places. Then I had kids.
Last month, I woke up to hear the immediately familiar tones of Ross and team on my radio! Yes, a processed pop tune, but nonetheless “The Hipsters” had the old sound. A new album; my curiosity was raised. The sound rang round my head. All the familiar sounds came back, the lyrics, the images, the various thoughts and feelings from 25 years ago, that have been layered since, with other thoughts from other artists that also got through to me.
So, I’ve had “The Hipsters” for my birthday, along with socks, slippers, pjs, etc that you get from your kids when you’re 44.  Now on my ‘wish list’ is the “Ooh Las Vegas” album that I lost in transit somewhere. And, the overlooked The Great Lakes and Pale Rider that I have spotified repeatedly recently.
Ross and team have always evoked something that I identify with, as have many other’s on my list. So, thanks for the new album Deacon Blue, for awakening my senses.
I had lost the ability to absorb. Fighting the period of transition had hardened my neurons to ‘stuff’.
Imagine not enjoying any food to the point that you don’t eat.
Well now I’m eating, and it tastes nice.

Listen to your breathing.

†by “music” I mean anything that creates a resonating expressive sound. However, as with food, there is “formulaic” & “processed” music and that falls on the edges of my interest. Yes I like the occasional “Flames” burger and pack of “Nic Naks” as much as the next, but there’s a lot of pap out there. It’s advisable to watch your diet – you are what you eat! And, there’s a lot of stuff you’ve never tried. Listen.



Frustratingly our server & internet is off-line, I’ve made calls, my hot cross bun has been eaten… so… some thoughts:

Our recent choir concert at Oakham School Chapel was a great experience! Two choirs together, 110+ voices, made a great sound – I am told. Singing with 100 people was invigorating and possibly helped rekindle a glowing ember that I guess I had not been fuelling.

Singing”, making a noise… what’s it all about… expression?
I briefly overheard someone recently, casually singing their own song as they walked down the street.
Compare this with the routine recitation of a prescribed composition.
The true expression of a feeling, often with a subconscious root, is what it’s about, I think.
Rather than trying too hard to tick all the right boxes; steer, balance and navigate – just let it out? Chill out, dude?

The spark was going out and my singing of songs had become a tad stale.
As with anything, occasionally I guess a splash of water, a wake up, a refreshing baptism, can help.
The simple overhearing of the man in the street and the (if you look for it) seemingly ever-present birdsong seems to have helped me. I guess that’s what a routine purge/fast/ritual can help do.

Over the last month, I have forsaken the daily ipod fix during the commute to work. I have gone without the opiate of prescribed ‘music’, entertaining “Desert Island Discs”, mind-bending “In Our Time”, and the pap they call “Stuff You Should Know”, etc. It’s been tempting in the last week to plug back into the drip but I have upheld the cold turkey.

Strip it back down to the basics – wind (cold) in the face, ubiquitous (wild)life, rain down the collar, nature on the air, exhaust up the nose… beauty juxtaposed with pestilence etc.

The choir’s post-concert meeting was a stripped back affair; just singing for pleasure with no specific pressure to “get it right”! OK yes, pressure to get it right is good for polishing the rough edges, but first let’s just pull the diamond from the ground.
We sang casually, from memory, hypnotic recall and expression of something – possibly satisfaction and thanks.

I think we could possibly all do with some off-line casual expression of satisfaction and thanks.

Have a hot cross bun… sing your song!?


World Music at Oakham School Chapel

Illustration: World Music ©Liz Underhill

If you could hear this image, what would it sound like?

Well…  “Global Harmony” from Melton and “Woven Chords” from Stamford are two world music a cappella choirs – they will be singing together! on March 31st Oakham School Chapel.

The choir is always more than the sum of it’s parts, and this time there’s TWO!


You can hear and see a glimpse of past GH performances here:

For more info contact: