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Librarian’s Corner: Vuelie

About Librarian’s Corner:

Leeds Vocal Movement loves to sing music from a wide range of genres, and my aim is to better understand what we are singing. This blog adds some context and analysis to the notes on the page, for the benefit of members and listeners alike!

Vuelie – Frode Fjellheim (2015)

 

This entry contains mentions of the songs and events in the film Frozen.

Frode Fjellheim’s ‘Vuelie’ first grabbed listeners’ attention in 2015, as the opening song of Disney’s Frozen. Both the film and its soundtrack are recognised world-wide, and ‘Vuelie’ has gained particular attention due to its tribe-like sounds of Scandinavian origin.

The Song of the Earth

‘Vuelie’ is adapted from the piece ‘Eatnemen Vuelie’,[1] translated as ‘Song of the Earth’. This piece is known as a yoik or vuelie, traditionally sung by the Sami people.[2] Yoik music is written to replicate the sounds of nature, as Ursula Länsman explains:

“A yoik is not merely a description; it attempts to capture its subject in its entirety: it’s like a holographic, multi-dimensional living image, a replica, not just a flat photograph or simple visual memory. It is not about something, it is that something.”[3]

In ‘Eatnemen Vuelie’, the sounds of the Earth are expressed through pure vocals in the upper voices, and homogenous chanting in the lower voices. Norwegian composer Frode Fjellheim[4] also added lyrics of the hymn ‘Fairest Lord Jesus’ to the original yoik, which describes Jesus as the “ruler of all nature”.

After being approached by Disney to include the piece in Frozen, Fjellheim adapted ‘Eatnemen Vuelie’ with film composer Christophe Beck, by shortening the piece and removing the lyrics. However, the the yoik melody and indigenous sound is carefully preserved in the film.[5]

The yoik in Frozen

‘Vuelie’[6] is the very first experience in the film Frozen, its opening bars heard against a blank screen before accompanying the opening credits.[7] After it finishes, the men of Arendelle sing about their work on the glaciers in ‘Heart’.[8]  The two opening songs, including the indigenous sounds of Scandinavia that ‘Vuelie’ provides, give the audience an initial understanding of the film’s setting, community and cultural associations. This technique is well practiced by Disney composers; similar songs can be heard in the opening scenes of such films as Pocahontas,[9] Lilo and Stitch[10] and The Lion King.[11]

Much like The Lion King, Frozen uses a reprise of its opening song to celebrate the return of normality to the community. In ‘Vuelie’s reprise, ‘The Great Thaw’,[12] string, brass and woodwind instruments are slowly introduced to the vocals, and the piece increases in texture and volume to signify the restoration of Arendelle. Both pieces show the importance of ‘Vuelie’, not only as the spirit of Arendelle, but the sound of familiarity, safety and contentment within the film.

The sound of Norway

‘Vuelie’ has maintained its cultural relevance outside of its Disney narrative, by Norwegian female choir Cantus. The choir originally recorded ‘Eatnemen Vuelie’ for their 2011 album, ‘Norwegian Voices’,[13] and later recorded ‘Vuelie’ and ‘The Great Thaw’ for the original Frozen soundtrack.

The choir have been celebrated as depicting the hidden voices of Norway, with a pure vocal sound that complements traditional Nordic singing; Kristin Asdal describes Cantus’ sound as “heavenly voices…with steady chanting reminiscent of repetitive rain or snow, mimicking the sounds of nature”.[14] The choir have solidified this legacy through their album ‘Northern Lights’, released in 2017, with ‘Vuelie’ as the lead track.

Whether recognised as a traditional yoik or the opening song in Frozen, ‘Vuelie’ is still celebrated years after its release by listeners worldwide.

Written by Rosa Stevens – Choir Manager and Librarian

Reference list

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=114&v=LTNQAL4nV5A

[2] http://www.boosey.com/teaching/news/New-arrangements-of-Eatnemen-Vuelie-from-Disney-s-Frozen/100627

[3] https://www.laits.utexas.edu/sami/diehtu/giella/music/yoiksunna.htm

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frode_Fjellheim

[5] http://animatedviews.com/2014/composer-frode-fjellheim-on-frozens-native-spirit/

[6] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zldOELlIXI4

[7] http://disney.wikia.com/wiki/Vuelie

[8] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3t-cd4vMq6E

[9] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7v7m1XSrj6Q

[10] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KtsV4bWPHsY

[11] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HwSKkKrUzUk

[12] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKe7ORhHMPo

[13] http://www.norwegianamerican.com/arts/29183/

[14] http://norwegianarts.org.uk/frozens-norwegian-choir-cantus-releases-new-album/

Feature image source: https://www.musixmatch.com/lyrics/Christophe-Beck-Cantus-Frode-Fjellheim/Vuelie

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Caitlin Mayall: How I got into choral conducting and what LVM means to me!

I wasn’t always into choral music – I grew up loving jazz and spent a lot of time listening to Ella Fitzgerald in our family kitchen. I also started composing when I was 12, because I didn’t like practising scales on the piano and I used to turn them into different motifs and write lyrics to them. My mum encouraged me to join Stockport Youth Orchestra, where I messed around a lot because I didn’t like the screechy sound I made on the violin – but I met a friend there who convinced me to audition for the Hallé Youth Choir in Manchester which was where it all started.

Going to the Hallé was like getting an overdose injection of the musical bug. We were regular performers at the Bridgewater Hall and sang everything from Poulenc’s stunning ‘Gloria’ to Elgar part-songs to Mahler’s 2nd symphony. I remember sight-reading Bruckner’s ‘Locus Iste’ at Ampleforth College surrounded by friends, breaking into Lambert’s ‘The Rio Grande’ at regular intervals on a tour bus to Italy and marching through the streets of York singing a swingle singers arrangement of ‘I’ll Be There For You’ at the top of our lungs. Jamie Burton was our wonderfully eccentric and hugely inspiring director, who taught us to read music using Solfege sign language and who intrigued us with his knowledge of the composers whose works we were performing.

It’s because of this exposure to so much gorgeous, life-changing music as a teenager that now as an adult I feel determined to bring the same experiences to others. I found myself volunteering to direct LUUMS Chorus whilst at Leeds University and now I devote my time to teaching Kodály music in schools and leading children’s and youth choirs. As my personal experiences of music have been of high quality but also highly social, I believe choirs should be joyful and create community – whether they are amateur or semi-professional, young or old, sacred or secular – because that’s what lasts. Leeds Vocal Movement does just that, and it’s becoming part of a choral music revolution in our up-and-coming city which I want to help fuel.

Music, and the friends I’ve made through music, has been there for me in some form throughout the best and darkest moments of my life. There is a big difference though between experiencing music by listening to CD or going to a concert and actually being the music itself. It is far superior to share music with others and we can create much more variety as singers in a choir than alone. On that note, if you want to be part of a vibrant musical community which sings for pleasure and experiences a range of music from all genres, styles and periods, come along and sing with us on a Wednesday evening!

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Christmas concerts

We are very excited to announce our two upcoming Christmas concerts this year!

7.30pm, Saturday 16th December, Oxford Place Centre, Leeds

Come along to hear our exciting, jazzy Christmas repertoire including Follow That Star, Bethlehem Down, Coventry Carol, Away in a Manger, and some non-Christmas classics like Goodnight Sweetheart, Red Red Rose and many more!

You can buy tickets here or on the door – https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/lvm-christmas-concert-tickets-40033736985 

7.30pm, Monday 18th December, Left Bank, Leeds

We’re very excited to be joining Left Bank Vocal Collective in a joint concert and singing in this gorgeous building which began life as a church. We will be singing a variety of Christmassy and non-Christmassy songs.

You can find out more about Left Bank here – http://leftbankleeds.org.uk/

 

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FAQ

Here are a few of our frequently asked questions. If you have a question that isn’t listed here, please contact us!

How do I join?

Just pop over to our joining page and fill in your details. We’ll be in touch as soon as we can!

When and where do you rehearse?

We rehearse every Wednesday 7.15-9.15pm during term-time in Leeds City Centre. For more details on our rehearsals, please visit our Contact page.

What does membership get me?

At LVM, as well as having an amazing time singing with like-minded people and making friends, you’ll have:

Quality professional singing coaching from our amazing and experienced Musical Director Caitlin.

The opportunity to sing a varied repertoire of music, from classical right through to popular music!

The opportunity to perform in concerts and at competitions in Leeds and further afield.

Access to Highnotes magazine as part of our group subscription to MakingMusic.org

Regular updates from our Facebook Group and via email – we’ll pass on any musical opportunities we are informed about!

Do I have to audition?

No, we don’t audition any of our singers – just turn up and join in!  If you’re not sure what part you are, our Musical Director will ask you to join a part and listen to see how you are doing.  After hearing how comfortable you are with the range, she may move you – but don’t be offended if this happens!  She’s just making sure you are in a place where you can shine!

Do I need experience in singing or music?

Not at all! We welcome anyone and everyone who wants to sing! Just register your interest and then turn up ready to make some noise!

What if I can’t read music?

Whilst an ability to read music will help, our Musical Director adjusts her teaching style to fit the range of abilities within the choir, and we learn using several techniques alongside reading music to improve sight-reading ability – after a few months you will have developed a new skill!

I can’t sing!

At LVM we firmly believe everyone has some innate ability to sing, and we aim to nurture that and bring your unique voice out! Who knows – maybe after a few months you’ll be braving the karaoke!

How much does it cost?

Fees for 2017/18 are £15 per month (£10 for students or benefits) during term-time only.

If you feel you would struggle to pay membership fees, but you still want to join, or if you are a current member and your circumstances have changed, please get in touch and have a confidential conversation with our Treasurer, Sally.

What are our term dates?

Autumn 2018: 5th September – 15th December

Spring 2019: 9th January – 10th April

Summer 2019: 1st May – 3rd July

What do my fees pay for?

LVM is run not-for-profit and our committee members are volunteers.  Your fees are put back into making the choir the best it can be. We pay for lots of things including our rehearsal venue, competition fees, insurance, sheet music, musical tuition and our website. You can help ensure the choir can continue to run by sharing our GoFundMe page, inviting as many of your friends and family to concerts as possible, and by paying fees on time!

How do I pay?

You can pay in one of two ways:

Bank Transfer (preferred):

Sort Code: 09-01-29

Account Number: 25132863

Paypal:

Click on the appropriate link below to be taken to the Paypal payment page. This will set up a monthly recurring payment for 3 months, you will need to re-subscribe for the next term. The below amounts are for PayPal only due to the small extra charge from them. Please only send £15 or £10 if you are paying by bank transfer.

Standard LVM Monthly Fee: £15.75

Students/Benefits: £10.55

You can also pay by cheque by making it out to Ms S V Stephens for the appropriate amount. However this should be as a last resort, as we do not often have access to a branch to pay in cheques, and therefore the cheque could clear when you are not expecting it.

How often do I need to attend rehearsals?

Regular attendance is important:

We want to make sure everyone is getting the most out of LVM that they can, and consequently we take attendance very seriously. We take attendance on a weekly basis so that:

  • You get the most out of your time – missing multiple rehearsals will mean you may not learn the pieces as quickly as others, and we want to ensure everyone is confident for performances and their own personal progression
  • You get the most out of your money – fees are the same price no matter how many rehearsals you miss
  • The choir can progress with its repertoire – as we are still recruiting, missing members makes some pieces impossible to rehearse or perform

Our attendance policy is as follows: we allow a maximum of three absences per term, including last-minute emergencies, after which the committee will contact a member regarding their membership. This is to touch base with the member, to make sure everyone is still satisfied with and progressing well in the choir.

We want to make sure we are being as fair as possible to our members, so if you have any questions about attendance, please contact us. Similarly, if know you will be unavailable for some Wednesday evenings, or have extenuating circumstances, including shift or evening work, please let the committee know as soon as possible.

Can I get a discount if I only attend half of the month?

Technically the membership fee is a termly fee, as we expect all members to commit to one term of rehearsals and performances; however last year we found that a lot of members struggled to pay in one lump sum, or forgot, resulting in a lot of late payments.  This meant it was very difficult to plan and pay for the rehearsal venue, competition entries and other costs such as insurance.  This is why this year we have changed it to a monthly fee, over 9 months of the year (during term-time only).

There are benefits that will be available to you even if you miss a rehearsal, such as membership, news and updates in our members-only Facebook group, your own folder of sheet music to practice at home, and access to our group membership of Making Music where you can search resources, find information and apply for solo competitions. So there are no discounts for missed rehearsals.  The payment is due at the end of the month and the payment months are: September, October and November; January, February and March; May, June and July.

If you have any questions regarding payment, please get in touch!

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Meet our new Musical Director

caitlin_mayall_MD_LVM_2We proud to introduce our new Musical Director, Caitlin Mayall. Caitlin comes to us with years of experience, and is excited to be joining us to push our choir forward into the future!

Caitlin has directed Leeds University Chorus, Darlington Youth Choir and the Leeds University Ensemble Choir Project among others and her teaching style is perfect for an unauditioned choir of mixed musical background and ability.  You can find out more about Caitlin on her website.

Caitlin joins us for the new term on Wednesday 13th September 2017.  If you’ve always wanted to sing in a choir, head to our joining page to register your interest and we’ll get back to you very soon!

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I want to sing!

We are always interested in hearing from anyone who wants to join the choir. Please ask us about our open rehearsals, these let you see what it would be like to join!

For term dates and membership fees, please have a look at our FAQs.

Upper voices

As we are at maximum capacity for upper voices, we are not recruiting Sopranos, Mezzo Sopranos or Altos at the moment. However, if you would be interested in potentially joining the choir in September 2019, please fill in the form below and we’ll put you on our waiting list!

Lower voices

Please fill in the form below to register your interest, and we will get back to you as soon as we can.

NB: please DO NOT PRESS ENTER in the message box below until you have completed your message, as it will automatically send an email to us before you are finished!