Banshees
  • After I moved to my current location I started attending what is now my home parish.

    For several years at the Mass I attended there was an older woman (I didn't know her) in the congregation who sat in the first pew. She had this habit of singing very loudly, many times an octave above the key the in which the music was written. Other times she would harmonize or do her own descants. Her soprano voice indicated that she had vocal training so it wasn't displeasing. It just sounded at times as though she was wailing. Her best "performance" was I am the Bread of Life, especially the phrase "and I will raise you up on the last day". She would sing the word "raise" an octave above what was written and hold it whilst the rest of us went ahead or do some kind of soprano descant.

    For a while she was the Leader of Song. She must have known that she could project her voice very well and could have stayed a short distance from the microphone but she was right on top of it, singing loudly and wailing away. She handled I am the Bread of Life as though she was still in the pew. The sound amplifiers were able to handle her without needed to be replaced.

    She wasn't part of the choir (not that that would matter) but with her voice she might have completely drowned out everyone else. I don't know if someone said something to her but it wasn't long before she was no longer attended this Mass. I never found out what happened - none of my business. To date no one has replaced her.

  • bhcordovabhcordova
    Posts: 980
    We had a similar situation in our parish. There was an elderly lady who started coming to Mass and she had a very loud soprano voice that warbled very badly. Many people made fun of her behind her back. My mother befriended her and became her godmother. In a visit to her house, which was very opulently decorated, we learned that she had been a diva in the New York Metropolitan Opera (she had playbills with her on the cover in the starring female roles). Our priest even had her come up to the altar after communion one time to have her sing a few arias.
  • Carol
    Posts: 690
    I have a fear that I will become one of these banshees when I get to be 75 or 80. At 66 I am still a cantor each week. Although my vibrato is something I have to keep my eye on, so far so good. I hope I realize when it is time to retire to the pew and sing softly.
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,687
    In the older days, such a singer was sometimes referred to as a (shrieking) sopranshee.
  • Elmar
    Posts: 370
    For a while she was the Leader of Song. She must have known that she could project her voice very well and could have stayed a short distance from the microphone but she was right on top of it [...] it wasn't long before she was no longer attended this Mass. I never found out what happened
    I would wonder as well what might have happened - and why she became 'leader of the song' in the first place (and why she used an amplifier at all).
    The peculiar thing is: we are called to care for each other like brothers and sisters on the one hand - but on the other are supposed not to ask questions when something goes wrong behind the scenes...
  • CCoozeCCooze
    Posts: 1,159
    but on the other are supposed not to ask questions when something goes wrong behind the scenes...

    ...which is problematic, if we would like to avoid making whatever mistake we must assume the other made, so as to not also "get disappeared."
    Thanked by 1Elmar
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,223
    Many singers don't realize the human voice is an instrument that doesn't always improve with age. There are exceptions, to be sure, and I have heard some older singers that are still excellent. They tend to do a lot of practicing. With one in particular, however, her hearing was getting worse and I think she may have been one of the only ones not realizing it. There are often many factors involved, some not obvious.
    Thanked by 2Elmar Carol
  • ViolaViola
    Posts: 377
    Another parish in this city is renowned/notorious for its auto-harmonisers. Usually they sing along in constant thirds above the melody line but ocasionally one of them will get creative and do something unpredictable. I think the regular parishioners must just be used to it.
    Thanked by 1Elmar
  • CatherineS
    Posts: 630
    I'll be one of them in a few years. lol
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,546
    Many singers don't realize the human voice is an instrument that doesn't always improve with age.
    I will spare you the war stories I have personally suffered through on account of this unfortunate factual and accurate piece of observation. Nuff said.
    Thanked by 1Elmar
  • If you went to any of the packed masses at my college, any time the collect or post-communion prayer was sung by the priest, the "amen" from the congregation was obnoxiously loud and long, with a large handful harmonizing a third and occasionally a fifth above the principal note. And if you sat near a voice major, they were either deliberately quiet or belting everything.