Up up

  • Submitted on time! Oct 8, 2023

I decided to write a madrigal. I based it on one I sang in high school, Fair Phyllis I Saw Sitting All Alone. The original plan was to compose the four-part vocal tune using synths and then sing all four parts. However, I was only able to sing a little bit, since we came down with COVID partway through this assignment, and my voice is totally shot. (Major 2020 vibes, submitting an NCBC in isolation.) So the track I’ve uploaded begins with the vocal parts I was able to record, then I pasted a (very sloppy) synth version of what the tune would have sounded like in four-part vocal harmony, just as a kind of proof-of-concept.

I had a lot of fun with this. I found that it was kind of… easy, pleasant, and not stressful to write this. Which was a nice surprise, given it’s been awhile since I did anything musical. But I also feel like, in writing it, I wasn’t being very intentional? It feels very ~random~. I was sort of just moseying about up and down the keyboard and humming to myself, keeping the reference track in mind and trying not to copy it exactly but also not being too worried about it.

The “new” thing in my life is my standing desk, an awesome bday present from my husband. Felt right to write a song celebrating standing up given the recent pressure to go back to sitting.

And of course inspo from my son who says “UP UP” 30x a day. He’s still new, here, too.


down down with a crown crown
queen of the frown
(she was up and then so down.)

down down, in her hometown
come back around
(she was down and came around)

and her lad was chipper!

one could drown drown
but her lad turned up the frown frown

up up, he went up, he went up
she was down down
come around, come around, come around, round
come around, come around, come around, round
round round

up up, he went up, he went up when she was
down down
come around, come around, come around, round
come around, come around, come around, round
round round

Looking for feedback on

How could I make it feel more cohesive & less random? Tips for composing four-part vocal acapella tunes?


stonewindow October 23, 2023 9:39pm

This is beautiful . I like the change in second half. Would love to hear your vocals for the entire piece. Lovely.

nick October 11, 2023 2:19pm

oh man i want to hear you put this whole thing together… when you’re feeling better, eh? Funny to write for the first time in a genre you’ve performed in so much—definitely contributes to the easiness @ryan mentioned. And yeah, don’t think I have any specific advice except that I wouldn’t describe it as random just yet. Perhaps entangled, but not in a bad way. Plz stick with it 🙂

Ryan October 10, 2023 4:00pm

Great to hear that Nora voice again! Unmistakable. A frickin’ madrigral! Who knew, not me.

The easiness that you mention feeling comes across in the sound of this. In a piece of music that could easily sound stuffy, this doesn’t. Sounds care-free, relaxed.

I feel pretty ill-equipped to answer either of your feedback questions, to be honest. But re: cohesion, would the piece work just as well if the section starting with “and her lad was chipper” were cut?

Ben October 8, 2023 9:07pm

A Nora caroNA

I knew I wouldn’t be able to eavesdrop since it was midi, so i was excited for the surprise, but somehow i missed the actual vocal tracking too.