Critique of Will the Circle Be Unbroken?

This second written assignment blog post is a critique of this performance of Will the Circle Be Unbroken.  Please listen to this performance and choose three of the following criteria to comment on; Tone, Intonation, Musicality, Diction, Accuracy, Balance, Blend, Presentation.


This assignment is due on Monday September 9th, at 11:59 pm.  It is worth 10 points and you may earn 2 bonus points for each classmate’s comment that you comment on for a maximum total of 6 bonus points.  However, no extra credit points will be given for late submissions. The link to the grading rubric and a document explaining the criteria can be found here.

Love you more than first concerts!!

Mrs. R.

39 thoughts on “Critique of Will the Circle Be Unbroken?

  1. The tone was very warm and uplifting. The blend all together wasn’t too bad, but wasn’t amazing. The balance all of the harmonies was pretty amazing. I could hear all three parts at all times

    • Yes, I love how you described the tone as “uplifting” as it really was. I also agree that the harmonies were strong and distinct!

  2. This groups tone was very bright and pitchy. In my opinion they could’ve worked harder on sounding like one voice throughout every section; altos and sopranos. They carried no intonation and no dynamics; these choir members went on airplane mode and didn’t enjoys what they sang. Although they had smiles on their faces I wished they could’ve performed with more compassion.

    • Yes! Although most members were moving their bodies and making eye contact with their friends or smiling, there were some moments when my eye would go to the people who didn’t seem to not be fully committed to the meaning of the song the whole time. It really takes every single member’s enthusiasm and passion to make the song reach its full emotional potential!

    • I think working on sounding like one voice would have significantly helped this group because it did not sound very musical when each section sounded so individual with no blending and often overpowering the other sections.

  3. I loved the presentation and how they were positioned in a circle. Also, there were a few parts where they fell out of tune but corrected it shortly after. Finally, I thought they blended well.

  4. This presentation of Will the Circle Be Unbroken was a little awkward in my opinion. The blend wasn’t that strong; either the sopranos were overpowering the altos, or the other way around, so I would say the balance was something the choir could have worked on better. Also, the musicality was not that great because the choir barely used any dynamics and sometimes it sounded like they did not know they next part. I did think that the physical presentation of this piece was well, because of the uniformity and creating a circle by holding hands, using symbolism with the song lyrics.

    • I totally agree with the unified physical presentation! If possible, I think our choir should also hold hands on the last chorus of the song to make it even more emotionally powerful.

    • I did not even think about the dynamics because I realize now that they really had none. It was just a constant loud dynamic from each section, with no contrast or blending with each other.

    • I totally agree that one section was overpowering the over and how the awkward beginning kind of set the tone for how the rest of the song sounded. But I also think the holding hands section of the song was symbolic if done cleanly.

  5. In the beginning, the three girls that sang the slower intro part of the song weren’t in tune at the end of the section. The alto part did not match or sound correct with the 2 soprano girls. I liked how they made a circle formation and then held hands, but when they held hands it didn’t look very clean. The girl in the front first started it, and eventually the other girls kind of caught on/held hands at random different times afterward so the action wasn’t clear. The parts weren’t balanced either. There would be certain moments in the song where you could barely hear the altos and could only hear the sopranos singing. However, in parts where everything was balanced, the sound was well blended.

    • I agree that the beginning section was out of tune. Also, they did not change at all to be more in tune as the section went on.

    • I agree with the cool idea of holding hands but when it actually came to doing that they didn’t seemed very uniformed and just looked a bit messy.

  6. Overall, this beautiful piece was really enjoyable to watch, as the choir set a warm and bright tone that gave the song its inspirational, enlightening feel. I thought the balance was well-executed; the trio in the beginning set the bar well for the mostly-equal blend of the parts. Finally, the presentation was satisfactory with the uniform look and connected circle, though I wanted even more passion from all of the singers to replicate the free,”gospel feel” of the piece.

    • I also think that the singers could have put more emotion into the song. At times it didn’t feel like they meant what they were singing, and that the energy was a bit low for the energetic, happy song they were singing.

  7. I thought that the diction was somewhat straight and sometimes dragged or scooped like In the beginning. This isn’t always a bad thing I just thought it didn’t feel right with this piece. The balance was really strong at some parts but at others I was able to hear one section more then the others. Presentation wise I thought it was a really nice idea but I feel as if I didn’t make as strong of an impact then if they held hand at a different part.

  8. Note wise they were very accurate and all the rhythms and notes sounded clean and correct, however it sounded like the balance was a bit off because the altos/second sopranos seemed to over power the first sopranos through the whole song. Also it seemed like some of them tried to move and smile, but a lot of them looked upset or just stood still which took away from the performance.

  9. This group was very pitchy and not well blended, especially during the trio at the very beginning. The three girls were not listening to each other so at times the alto part was very overpowering and when the notes did not mesh, they did not change anything. I think the diction of this piece was well executed in the sense that I could understand the words they were singing clearly. Although the presentation of this group was very creative of standing in a circle, I don’t think it was beneficial to them because with some of them having their backs to each other and being spread out they couldn’t hear each other as clearly and a few of the girls were looking to the side at someone else which was distracting.

    • I agree that the circle formation might have been the reason that the choir was not as balanced as it could have been, because of the girls not being able to hear each other.

  10. At the beginning I felt like the group was flat and they needed to blend a lot more but when the song sped up you could tell they all started to listen to each other. I felt like that was the part the group enjoyed the most to sing and they put their heart and soul when they sang it which made it sound 1000 times better. I think if they just tried to listen to each other more at the beginning and focused on diction and blend it would sound amazing throughout the whole piece.

  11. I liked their blend on the second chorus, they all sounded like one part not different parts trying to outdo each other. I think their tone was a little pinched, but that could be the stage as well. Their tone could be a little warmer and not as pinched if they moved their vowels down to their mouth, not their nose. I liked the altos special part, they were very distinct from the others yet still let the other parts have a moment too. Overall, I think it was fairly well done, just could use some work on the tone.

  12. I personally had a difficult time listening to the whole song through just because of how bad most of it was. The few girls that sang at the very beginning were extremely off pitch with their harmonies and the high notes from the sopranos throughout the entire song were pinched and pitchy as well. I thought that in some parts like the verses, the harmonies and girls singing did blend together very nicely, but towards the end like the last chorus, the altos were very very overpowering. There could have been more diction throughout the entire song, but also making sure to all breathe and cut off when correct. Overall, it wasn’t the worst thing I’ve ever watched, but it definitely was not to the level that it should be performed at.

  13. The beginning of the piece started off rough since their intonation wasn’t the best and didn’t have a unified blend, however their sound started to open up towards the end and brought the whole piece together. As for their dynamics, they could’ve done it better with really highlighting the fortes from the pianos since it all seemed as one static sound. Their diction was pretty good and I can understand clearly what the girls were saying for the most part. If there were some things they could work on, it would definitely be the tone, dynamics, and intonation, but I really liked the ending where they held hands and formed a circle and it really tied the whole presentation together.

  14. At the beginning the three girls were definitely not listening to each other, making their sound very pitchy, especially toward the end of their little section. They were not very balanced either. When the rest of the choir joined in the balance got a little better but there were still times where you couldn’t really hear the altos or you couldn’t hear the sopranos. I think they just need to listen to each other a little more. There were also no dynamics whatsoever throughout the piece, which kind of made the song not as fun, entertaining, and powerful as it could have been. I really liked their presentation, they looked very uniform and put together. I think the idea of standing in a circle was really creative and added a fun element to their performance.

  15. Accuracy: The majority of their attacks and cutoffs are very hesitant throughout the piece. It sounds very sloppy and not concert ready.

    Musicality: Dynamics do not exist in their performance. It remains mezzo forte the entire time. By not placing dynamics in the piece there is no depth to what the choir is singing.

    Balance: Since I am an alto myself, I always pay special attention to the lower parts. In this particular selection, I notice that in some parts the altos can be barely heard and in other measures the altos overpower the other parts. Thus, balance is not consistent through the entirety of the song.

    • I didn’t notice the cut offs in the piece but I agree that the group did sound hesitant and not concert ready. Also the dynamics did not add depth to the piece. And I wish I could also hear more alto rather than just the melody.

  16. Overall I didn’t think it was that bad. I think they sounded pretty blended at times but sometimes some sections would over power. They also scooped a lot at the beginning making it sound kind of funny. They didn’t have dynamics so everything just sounded the same making it a little boring. I liked that they stood in a circle and held hands at the end I thought that was pretty cool.

    • I agree that the group did sound blended at times but overall I don’t like they blended together well and the dynamics needed work. And I also liked when they held hands in the circle.

    • I also heard the scooping and thought that kind of brought the piece down and did not let the intro get the attention that it needed.

  17. From the beginning of the piece I did not think the group blended very well together. I felt as if there were two different tones competing against one another. Then most of their notes were correct with the except of some flat notes when the group sang the word “Lord” and when the second sopranos tried to hit the higher note for “Oh”. Along with their dynamics the group started at mezzo forte and ended in mezzo forte. But what I did like about the piece was they moved and truly did look like they were enjoying their time on the stage.

    • I agree that their releases and attacks could have been better and could have added a little more strength to the piece.

  18. This presentation could use some work in many places. Some of their words were wide especially when sopranos had to singer higher notes. For example, the “valley” and “sky” sounded too pushed. There was not a really good blend between parts. Sometimes altos overpowered and the sopranos could not be heard. It seemed as though the altos were singing forte and sopranos were singing mezzo forte and the sound was not well balanced. Their presentation could have been slightly better. Although they did move slightly, they still seemed stiff and not confident. Overall I think with just a little more time this group could have sounded amazing.

  19. Overall, I think this is a decent performance. There were many issues with blend throughout the piece, particularly in the beginning. I think there could have been a better balance between the parts. The vowels could have been better/ more uniform. I think that would have helped the blend. Dynamics were pretty much static for the entirety of the piece; better dynamics would have enhanced the musicality of the performance. Presentation wise, I personally did not like the joining of hands in the middle of the piece. While it is a cool idea, I think it was a little awkward and distracting in execution. I enjoyed watching the girls interact with one another while performing. They looked engaged throughout the whole song.

  20. throughout this piece you could see how each individual person was connecting to the music, which i thought was really cool. Musically, the pitch was a bit harsh and could have been improved, as well as their blend. The three parts were decent on their own, but were off when put together as a whole. The idea of standing in a circle to sing this sound was a well intended decision, but the shape made it seem a bit awkward at times, however it did get the point of unity across to the audience!

  21. the pitch, especially at the very beginning was kinda rough, but gradually got a bit better. the dynamics of the piece were basically nonexistent and stayed the same volume for most of it. the tone, in my opinion, was pinched and needed to be opened up more so that some of the higher notes could soar and appear effortless. overall, a few things could be worked on harder in order to make the piece blend more and sound nicer.

  22. This choir’s performance was overall fairly good— I personally thought the blend could use additional work as individual voices stood out to me, though the sound generated by the choir itself actually wasn’t awful. It held a sort of uniqueness to it, which I could potentially understand why the director may not have exactly worked more on having all the girls sound like having one voice. The tone was quite bright and at times pitchy due to spread and unfocused vowel, but again it added somewhat of a charm to the group. They made it work. There was very little if at all noticeable musicality in the sense that it was all one dynamic, and I heard no changes at all in crescendoing or decrescendoing. To conclude, I think this group did fine but nothing particularly noteworthy or breathtaking due to the need of a few minor tweaks.

  23. The thing that stuck out to me most in this performance was the groups blend. I felt like I could hear individual voices very clearly especially in the beginning due to less people singing. The blend wasn’t bad the entire time just the parts that stuck out were very prominent. The pitch was also just a little too bright in my opinion. The last thing for me was how they all held hands at the end. I think the idea is super heartfelt but it made them seem less mature in their overall performance.

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