Unison: Synch and Synergy

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Friday, May 28, 2010

If you happen to see a parade this Memorial Day Weekend, you might be spending some time watching large numbers of people, walking in step.  As WNYC’s Sara Fishko tells us, there’s a particular synergy that comes from many people doing the same thing.   
Here is the next Fishko Files....

There’s something powerful about multiples in unison, all across the arts. A chorus, orchestra or dance troupe 'synching up' can be magical --whether you’re on the inside of one of them or just watching.

The 2008 Olympic Opening Ceremony in Beijing is a recent example of unison movement that many found awe-inspiring. Held at the Beijing National Stadium, nicknamed "The Bird’s Nest" for its webbed metallic structure, the ceremony featured more than 15,000 performers, many of whom operated in unison throughout the ceremony.  

Other examples of unison movement:

The Rockettes

A Chorus Line

The UCLA marching band's famous 'Script' configuration

In Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake ballet

Playlist for Unison

  • The Rockettes: Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree; Sony Music JK85112
  • Greek Chorus:  Sophocles, Oedipus the King; Naxos NA217712
  • Ballet Music:  Tchaikovsky Symphony no. 3 (Claudio Abbado, Chicago Symphony Orchestra); Sony SK45939
  • Gregorian Chant:  Hymnus (VIII); Philips 432089-2 
  • Verdi Requiem, “Agnus Dei” Fleming, Borodina, Bocelli, D’Arcangelo; Valery Gergiev; Philips 468-079
  • Bach Concerto no. 1 in D Minor; Andrei Gavrilov, Neville Marriner; EMI 5-651732
  • Oscar Peterson, The London Concert; (I Get Along Without You Very Well); Pablo 2PACD-2620-111-2
  • Beethoven Symphony Number 5 in C Minor; Leonard Bernstein, NY Philharmonic; Sony SXK47645

Mix Engineer: Wayne Shulmister

Assistant Producer: Laura Mayer

Hosted by:

Sara Fishko

Comments [2]

Terry King from Manhattan

This was another great Fishko File, examining a subject most people probably don't think about unless they're artists, soldiers, or other special-interest groups. I'd add to the examples in this broadcast the tradition in Brazilian samba songs, in which the chorus is often sung by everyone in the band in unison (or, to be more exact, octaves). The effect in samba is just as remarkable as in the other examples -- uplifting in a way that's hard to explain.

May. 28 2010 06:04 PM
Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from

As always, people love to be with the IN crowd.
Parades with side line supporters as cheerleaders, almost always raise the fever pitch by sheer volume of their enthusiasm, sometimes such as at New Year's Eve at Times Square, with the props of noisemakers.
Kenneth Bennett Lane, Wagnerian heldentenor, opera composer and director, the Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute. Website:, where one may download at "Recorded Selections" 37 "LIVE from Carnegie Hall" complete selections from my four main hall, Isaac Stern Auditorium, concerts at Carnegie Hall.

May. 28 2010 08:42 AM

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