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Singing 'in the round' ;-) -- any tips?

26 Sep 01 - 04:48 PM (#559315)
Subject: Singing 'in the round' -- any tips?
From: CapriUni


I've recently developed a fascination with rounds: deceptively simple tunes when sung in unison that blossom into complex harmonies and rhythms when the parts follow each other.

It's seems to me that round singing (also called "trolling" -- the *good* kind of trolling, around here ;-)) is an execellent metaphor for democracy, and creativity in general -- people united in singing, but not exactly singing together, and out of that, something totally unexpected and wonderful comes.

It's all great in theory, of course... the problem comes in actually *doing* it! Like many people, I suspect, I have trouble staying with my part -- my voice wants to follow my ears, and I find myself "slipping" into the parts sung by the people around me. I'm sure practice will help this -- but how do you practice alone?!

Also (speaking of singing alone), any tips for encouraging people to join you in a round?

26 Sep 01 - 05:01 PM (#559328)
Subject: RE: Singing 'in the round' ;-) -- any tips?
From: Cappuccino

Have you tried recording one part, and singing along with it?

I've got the worst voice in the world, but I also have an eight-track... and now I'm determined to try your idea of rounds to see if I can stay in the right place. Thanks for the idea, and good luck.

- Ian B

26 Sep 01 - 05:26 PM (#559341)
Subject: RE: Singing 'in the round' ;-) -- any tips?
From: Joe Offer

Hi, Capri- don't listen to the melody that others are singing - instead, listen for the chords that are created and make sure they're OK, and that should helpo anchor you. Also, listen for the rhythm - all the parts will be sung in basically the same meter.
Good luck.
-Joe Offer-

26 Sep 01 - 05:30 PM (#559347)
Subject: RE: Singing 'in the round' ;-) -- any tips?
From: CapriUni

Ian --

I've tried practicing by putting the various parts into a program called "Noteworthy Composer" -- that highlights each note and lyric syllable as it is played, so I can read along with one musical line and try to stay "on track" (pun only partly intended ;-)) with that. And that helps. But just singing one note while hearing another isn't quite the same as singing one *word* while hearing another...

Hence, the second part of my question: "How do you encourage your friends to join in?"

Singing rounds, I seem to recall, was a natural thing to do for us when we were kids, but for adults... seems about as respectable as playing the kazoo! ;-)

26 Sep 01 - 05:40 PM (#559357)
Subject: RE: Singing 'in the round' ;-) -- any tips?
From: Cappuccino

Yes, I see your point. And, the more I think about it, the more I think you're on the track of something that could usefully be revived.

You're right that rounds are remembered as a kids' thing, and the words we sang as kids were fairly simplistic. So, are there words and lyrics which can clearly be seen as 'grown-up' rounds?

I do apologise for not being at all helpful, but wish you the best of luck with it. - IanB

26 Sep 01 - 05:48 PM (#559363)
Subject: RE: Singing 'in the round' ;-) -- any tips?
From: Joe Offer

Capri, I'd like to recomment Sol Weber's book and CD called rounds Galore! (Click). Mudcatters Sandy and Caroline Paton have them available at Folk-Legacy Records.
-Joe Offer-

26 Sep 01 - 06:02 PM (#559373)
Subject: RE: Singing 'in the round' ;-) -- any tips?
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)

Joe, you beat me to it! That's a great resource, and Sol Weber can get people singing rounds if no one else can. Most of the rounds there are very much for grownups, and pleasing and fun.
CapriUni, do you already have friends whom you sing with? Why not learn a fun round and slip it in when you're singing with them anyway? Meanwhile, check out for some more info!

27 Sep 01 - 12:17 AM (#559643)
Subject: RE: Singing 'in the round' ;-) -- any tips?
From: CapriUni

Joe Offer -- Thanks for the tip on listening for the chords, I'll definitely try that. And for the suggestion of "Rounds Galore!" I've bookmarked the site.

Aminaterra -- thanks for the link to the previous thread on rounds, I downloaded the midi to "A Catch on Cats" (which MMario posted there) from Alan's midi page, but I couldn't find the lyrics in digitrad. Now, I have both. It's a beautiful melody, but I think I'll master the shorter rounds before I tackle that one ;-)

IanB --

As for "Adult" versus "simple" lyrics, I personally find the simplicity of many rounds to be one of their more endearing qualities.

But there is one round that we used to sing in high school (actually, the school was pre-K- through 12) for our Thanksgiving gathering that's been going though my head a lot since the attacks two weeks ago (to the tune of "Rose, Rose, Rose, Red")

What a lovely thing
if the children of all men*
could dwell together
in peace, oh!

*in my own personal version, I've changed this line to "children of all Earth"

I don't have a midi of this song, and I've never seen a score for it -- it's truly part of my oral tradition... But I've been trying to figure it out, plunking the notes on a keyboard and all that... Unless someone puts it up before me, I'll send it to Alan's midi page eventually.

27 Sep 01 - 05:36 AM (#559746)
Subject: RE: Singing 'in the round' ;-) -- any tips?
From: Joe Offer

Hey, Capri - Look at this Website I found: - lots of good stuff there. Also, you might want to take a look at what I got out of a Goodle Search for singing rounds - Click here.
Another good resource for rounds is the Rise Up Singing Songbook from Sing Out! (click). It has lyrics for some 1,200 songs - but it also has music for probably a hundred rounds.
-Joe Offer-

27 Sep 01 - 08:01 AM (#559769)
Subject: RE: Singing 'in the round' ;-) -- any tips?
From: sophocleese

I have found that many people when trying to teach a group of adults a round expect them to pick it up far faster than most of the adults can get it. If you're teaching a round go over every line twice more than you think you need to.

I like rounds myself and am trying to get our nascent chamber choir to learn some old ones. MMArio has been posting, here, at times some older catches that you might like.

27 Sep 01 - 09:18 AM (#559816)
Subject: RE: Singing 'in the round' ;-) -- any tips?
From: GUEST,Russ


Rounds are popular for the afternoon sing at Augusta. I've seen a method that seems to work well. Before you teach the round to a large group, recruit as many people as there are parts and teach them the round beforehand. When it is time to teach the large group, break it up into smaller groups and use the people who already know the round as group leaders.

27 Sep 01 - 04:01 PM (#560127)
Subject: RE: Singing 'in the round' ;-) -- any tips?
From: CapriUni

Joe Offer -- thanks for the link to Roundsing! I've joined their mailing list... websites and midis are nifty, but other people are even better! ;-)

One reason I love the 'Cat...

27 Sep 01 - 07:30 PM (#560297)
Subject: RE: Singing 'in the round' ;-) -- any tips?
From: 8_Pints

I usually run rounds workshops for adults at "Folk Camps". Children are welcome too, but we always sing a huge variety. Once people know you like rounds they are always coming up and saying "Do you know this one?" so it is quite easy to build up a collection!

One that is fiendishly difficult is 'Fie, nay, prithee John' It takes a while to master, but it's worth it! There is also a 6 part "Sanctus" that some friends and I have been trying to get right for about 8 years!

I rescued an old book of rounds from one of the schools I used to work in. The room was being cleared out and I took it before it went into the skip. It has some standards like 'Dona Nobis Pacem', but also lots of other stuff. Although I can't scan into the computer, if you would like a hard copy, I could photocopy it for you - PM me if you want. (I'm sure it's too old to be covered by copyright!)

One of the joys for me is when I learn a new round and only hear the overall effect of the harmonies after I've taught it to other people, it's always a lovely surprise!

Love Sue vG

27 Sep 01 - 07:52 PM (#560307)
Subject: RE: Singing 'in the round' ;-) -- any tips?
From: CapriUni

Sophoclese -- thanks for the link to MMario's thread, some of those catches look like fun!

Sue vG I -- know what you mean about the happy, surprising harmonies. I get that sometimes when I record a .wav file of myself singing a round, then I paste the file over itself to into the round. But that can't compare to the richer harmonies you get through the harmonics of *different* voices...

I really enjoy doing things that are impossible to do alone -- like singing rounds, and telling stories out loud. :-)

27 Sep 01 - 08:49 PM (#560343)
Subject: RE: Singing 'in the round' ;-) -- any tips?
From: catspaw49

Odd......Seems to me the first thing you'd have to do to sing in the round would be to form a circle........


27 Sep 01 - 09:17 PM (#560364)
Subject: RE: Singing 'in the round' ;-) -- any tips?
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)

Capri., that round you mentioned from your high school days is a version of lyrics by our own Jean Ritchie, aka kytrad. My schoolchildren just did an assembly this week with that song- isn't it great? (we sang: children of the world)

27 Sep 01 - 11:18 PM (#560442)
Subject: RE: Singing 'in the round' ;-) -- any tips?
From: CapriUni


Yes, it is a great one... I was at a candlelight gathering ("vigil" is too disciplined a word for what this was) a week ago Monday, and I just started singining it, vaugely hoping someone would join in, even without doing it in round. But no one picked up on it ... sigh. I think they may not have been familiar with it. Which is too bad.

I'll just have to persist...

27 Sep 01 - 11:23 PM (#560445)
Subject: RE: Singing 'in the round' ;-) -- any tips?
From: CapriUni

Spaw -- groan!

But actually, singing rounds (catches, or whatever you choose to call them) in a circle is probably a good idea -- that way, you could "follow" the song as it 'travels'

28 Sep 01 - 08:33 AM (#560644)
Subject: RE: Singing 'in the round' ;-) -- any tips?
From: MMario

I've been involved in singing some rounds at various performances - and we do find it easier if we are in semi-circle rather then a straight line when singing - you hear the other parts better. It's easy to get "lost" if you can't hear the other people.

28 Sep 01 - 09:02 PM (#561116)
Subject: RE: Singing 'in the round' ;-) -- any tips?
From: CapriUni

MMario --

Yes, I can see (or should that be 'hear') how being able to hear the other people would make it a lot easier. A bit like winding the May pole in the dance: if you don't want the ribbons to get tangled, just make sure the one you're holding is up, when the person in front of you (and dancing in the same direction as you) is holding *her* ribbon up, and when the person coming toward you has his ribbon down...

In singing a round, just make sure you echo the person just to your side (left or right, depending on which direction the round is going)... right?

29 Jul 10 - 02:46 PM (#2954634)
Subject: RE: Singing 'in the round' ;-) -- any tips?
From: GUEST,Guest2

This thread is ancient and the original poster may no longer wait for answers, but I know a link fitting exactly, which is probably interesting for many other hopeful round-singers as well: . I spent hours with this little free software. What do you think?


29 Jul 10 - 03:16 PM (#2954654)
Subject: RE: Singing 'in the round' ;-) -- any tips?
From: Desert Dancer

The Guest2's link: on that page is "SonneLematine" --

SonneLematine allows you to sing, play, or whistle canons with yourself (the popular genre commonly called round, such as "Three Blind Mice"). That is to say, you produce the music only once as the first voice, while the other voices will sound from your headphones or speakers, seemingly from various directions. What you hear is actually what you generated yourself only seconds before!

The result, a full-voiced round all of your making, can be replayed with an arbitrary number of repetitions. If you are satisfied, you can save it as an audio file. Such files can be played, burnt onto Audio CDs, reprocessed (reverb ...), and compressed, using common standard software tools.

So you can sing rounds without leaving your closet... *snf* seems so sad.

~ Becky in Tucson

29 Jul 10 - 04:46 PM (#2954709)
Subject: RE: Singing 'in the round' ;-) -- any tips?
From: Joe_F

For antiquarians: The Penguin Book of Rounds, Rosemary Cass-Beggs, Ed., 1982.

For those who like a challenge: Around the World of Song, 25 rounds by Moondog (Louis Hardin), 1971.

30 Jul 10 - 04:40 AM (#2955004)
Subject: RE: Singing 'in the round' ;-) -- any tips?
From: GUEST,Guest2

Hi Becky,

I totally agree with you that rounds are made for company. The original poster asked for a method to practise in advance, voilĂ .

Practising is by definition done alone (as opposed to "rehearsing"). I practise playing the piano every day without feeling "so sad".

If you have a good and patient choirmaster or "repeteur", you don't need a computer for that. Better still: try to become an experienced singer who needs no aid at all.

On that site there is also a link to a "repeteur" software named MidiCond. Does anyone know if this is worth the while?


31 Jul 10 - 01:54 PM (#2955798)
Subject: RE: Singing 'in the round' - SonneLematine
From: GUEST,AlexS

Hello everyone,

I am the programmer of the software SonneLematine and the webmaster of the site hosting it. Today I found this very special forum by inspecting the log file. Good to know that some people (apart from my friends and myself) seem to appreciate the program - assuming, F., you spent those hours enjoying it, not trying to make it work ...

The full link is On that site you find my complete name and address, as required by German law. Feel free to mail me your opinion and wishes.

As for MidiCond (- quite a different kind of music software -), folk musicians are not the primary group of users, so I doubt many people here know that program. When I designed it, I had classical musicians in mind, but it turned out that most users are in some way involved in electronic music. Other musicians seem to be prejudiced against using computers for other purposes than writing. This makes some of them even buy expensive tape-recorders although the computer they own already could do the job better. (Anyone protesting? Please, do!)

I think SonneLematine will be found particularly easy to use. If you disagree, please write to me. If you agree, tell others.

Have fun!


03 Aug 10 - 01:54 PM (#2957426)
Subject: RE: Singing 'in the round' ;-) -- any tips?
From: GUEST,Guest2

Hi Alex,

thanks for taking interest. No trouble with Sonnelematine, a cute little program, works like a charm. The "conductor" is really useful, though I would call it a metronome.

MidiCond, however, seems to require more patience to learn, and that's my problem at the moment. This begins right when trying to download that demo version. Well, I may not exactly be a folk musician, but I'm definitely not into "electronic music", nevertheless I appreciate any good software that makes our lives easier. Just give us a bit more time to sort out what we really need, since our time and brain capacity is limited. Not everyone is a programmer or has such an impressive variety of interests as you display on your homepage and in your epic help texts!

F. (singer-songwriter, owner of an electronic keyboard/piano)

06 Aug 10 - 01:55 PM (#2959571)
Subject: RE: Singing 'in the round' ;-) -- any tips?
From: GUEST,Carlos Martin

MidiCond is by no means difficult to use. Not all "unplugged" musicians are prejudiced against technology, actually most mudcatters know how to use a computer ;-).
@F. Guest2: Whether it's worth your while, your "brain capacity", and your bucks? Depends on your music and your wishes. Though the fundamental idea is almost as old as MIDI, I know of no other implementation currently available for the general public. Our "modern" audio sequencers have different ideas about how to get MIDI and audio together, alas.

07 Aug 10 - 11:17 AM (#2960058)
Subject: RE: Singing 'in the round' ;-) -- any tips?
From: open mike

if singing a 3 part round, for instance, it works best to have 3 strong singers, one in each group, who know the song and can sing their part to lead the others in the section. Perhaps it would work best if they face their group so the others can hear and follow. of course you would need a group of people willing to participate. I once sang a round while performing solo and was pleasantly surprised that several audience members took up the parts and sang them out (white coral bells....girl scouting will do that to you!!)

18 Aug 10 - 07:53 AM (#2967761)
Subject: RE: Singing 'in the round' ;-) -- any tips?
From: GUEST,ChoirJane

Singing rounds is quite in vogue, which may surprise many pessimists. This is very fortunate, because rounds are just the "missing link" between basic folklore and "sophisticated art" (as defined conventionally; we know of course that no such distinction is really valid). That tradition should be fostered for its own value, and moreover, it may help us to recruit choir singers.

In many places, it seems, the practice has been interrupted, but the memory and the desire are still there. If you can scout strong singers in a concert audience or elsewhere, "open mike", you are privileged. Others may resort to computer software - not my cup o' tea, but certainly an attribute of up-to-dateness!

We need encouragement by good example, instructions, training. And discussions as in this thread, which demonstrates once more that music can be shared by persons of various backgrounds and attitudes. Don't leave it to teachers and scout leaders.