(Pictured above: A recently discovered photograph from the 13th century of the Guidonian Hand. It is believed that the figure on the left is the diabolus in musica, while the elusive Key of F Bugaboo may be the figure on the middle finger (appropriately). The figure on the ring finger is believed to represent the ogre who created the first viola out of charred wormwood. Warning, the authenticity of this photograph has not been verified fully by carbon dating or any other method)
Today I am sharing a discussion I initiated on the ChoralNet website, asking for thoughts on the issue of why many choirs seem to struggle when singing in the key of F and whether this issue has merit, or is an urban legend, or whatever else people could say about this topic. I actually brought it up in reference to research I am doing, not for a choir I am currently leading, though I guess they way I phrased it initially may have led some people to think this was a current issue in a choir (not that that really makes any difference in the overall discussion). What is interesting is that the discussion has veered into some other closely related areas, including tuning, historic pitch levels, instruments and pitch-- and after many many contributions there still has not been a definitive answer to this issue. Is this a problem? Not really, it just shows that we have a pretty cool mystery on our hands and I think the discussion and excellent ideas tossed around have been worth it. Here is the thread so far- it's lengthy and may continue to go on and on! I have left people's names on since it is an Internet site with names- hopefully no one is mad that I left their name intact.
The key of F tuning/lack of resonance bugaboo has reared its head again. Has anyone truly analyzed this issue either on ChoralNet or in a paper? In a cappella music, have some of you pitched up to F# or G and what were your thoughts on the result? Does pitching down work, or is it better to raise the pitch? I am interested in both practical experience (even plain old anecdotal) in repitching away from F, PLUS interested in any more scientific knowledge of the reasons behind this phenomenon. Is it pasaggio related? Or other? Is it also a problem with F minor as well? Is there any related issue with the relative, d minor? I'm all ears to hear your thoughts.
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