Elise actually had me convinced for a moment that i might be growing a tail, but after a few solid hours of slouching around reading Durkheim’s Suicide i’m starting to think that i’ve grown a tiny callous at the base of my spine to protect it from hard wooden chairs. Elise went on to point out that dinosaurs’ sometimes had “helper brains” located at the base of their tail to help communicate information to their brains in a more expedient fashion. This, she claimed, would mean the difference between “ouch, my tail seems to be on fire” and “mmm, do i smell cookies?”
Durkheim’s Suicide is a fascinating (and decidedly unmorbid) look at the Sociological phenomena that can be statistically correlated to the rate of suicide in late nineteenth century Europe. It works on the supposition that suicide can be view as an entirely unpsychologically motivated act — or at least that an individual’s reasons to commit such an act are entirely outweighed by the causal factors associated with their role in society as a person, worshipper, spouse, and so forth.
The remainder of this post will strive to address neither the topic of evolutionary adaptation nor the topic of one’s place in society can dictate behavior more than their personal intent. However, it is definitely about both. Sortof.
(If you don’t know me at all you probably should just skip down to the last post to avoid too much incoherent rambling).
As of two years ago today i had only completed three music courses on a collegiate level. None of them went towards improving my vocal skills. I was fully aware of that fact, and though i strove to improve both my volume and pitch on my own i had already begun to do the same through coursework. In 2001 i earned the ability to record in Drexel’s digital studio, and it was during the mixing of Relief that i became enamored with the idea of joining 8 To The Bar.
8 To The Bar is Drexel’s all-male acappella group. They’re about as close as one can get to being a certifiable Drexel Rock Star. I mixed Relief simultaneously with 8ttB’s studio album that Spring, sometimes literally finding both of our material on a single ADAT tape. The group’s then-president (and my co-producer) Bill spent the entire week coaxing excellent performances out of me, partially resulting in a tacit attempt to convince me that my voice could be used as more than just an implement of singer-songwriter angst. I, for the most part, disagreed.
In the weeks to come i found myself watching in jealously and awe as 8 To The Bar added new members — almost all of them in my singing range. It had never occurred to me to audition. The grace saving me from actual disappointment about this were The Treblemakers — 8ttB’s just-formed female counterparts. The Treblemakers were composed almost exclusively of my close friends (save for Selina), and as they began rehearsing i quickly became their groupie-at-large … locating errant members after practice began, fetching extra photocopies, and reserving seats for them at the 8ttB concert. By the following fall i was an actual member of the TM’s, albeit an honorary one, and i still gave no though to auditioning for 8ttB despite them adding two more people who sing the same voice part as me in addition to our collective friend Dante, to whom i cannot claim any semblance of vocal comparison.
As 8 To The Bar’s membership became updated, so did The Treblemaker’s … adding one of my roommates, one of the first people i met at Drexel, and one of my best friends. As the group’s membership shifted so did my honorary “role” … I went from being a photocopier to an arranger, and from fetcher of members to emergency practice percussionist. However, when the curtain went up i was still a seat filler rather than a performer — one role completely alien to me..
Yesterday night the girls held their yearly audition, and as of Monday morning they will officially be up to full vocal power. Meanwhile, 8 To The Bar is pretty much at full vocal power, but they’re also auditioning. In fact, auditions are Monday night right after Choir, as an email supplied by the 8ttB webmaster conveniently informed me this afternoon. From various grapevines i have heard that they’re looking for either a couple of exceptional tenors or as many as five or six new members. As tempting as this might seem, the odds really aren’t in my favor: i don’t have a stronger voice or range than any of the baritones currently in the group, and my reading and performing skills are equal at best to any basses who are planning to show up. But, for once, i’m actually considering the possibility of showing up.
Monday, effectively, is it. I’m in my second to last year at Drexel, and i vocally scratched and clawed my way into choir. Although i am by no means a fully qualified bass or baritone soloist, i am for the first time entirely capable of being a member of 8 To The Bar, and that leaves me with a choice: I can spend Monday night making them believe that i’m only not a part of the group yet because i haven’t tried out, or i can give it up entirely and get comfortable in my seat.
So many words to describe such an agonizingly small decision; it all comes down to a simple question of “will i, or won’t i.” Will is putting myself out on a line much more personal than the ones i’ve toed in auditions for theatre and choir, and won’t is admitting that after two years of becoming more musical i’m still not musical enough.
I really don’t want to grow a tail.