This article was first published earlier this year in Voicebox, the magazine for LABBS members. I'm reproducing it here in the wake of a conversation with a friend from Holland who was developing a similar checklist for a workshop she'll be running. It was originally written for a barbershop audience, but generalises quite well to other genres if you subsititute their classic musical features for the style-specific ones mentioned here.
When people choose music to sing in contest, they think a lot about its suitability in terms of style – is it barbershop, in the terms defined by the contest and judging system we have adopted from the Barbershop Harmony Society.
But there is an equally important dimension to suitability, and this one applies to all the music we sing, not just for contest: suitability to performer. However great a song and arrangement is in itself, it will only produce a thrilling performance if it is a good fit for your quartet or chorus.
So, how do you decide if a song/arrangement is suitable for you?