WARMER MIXTAPES #1586 | by Dianne van Giersbergen of Ex Libris and Xandria

photo by Stefan Heilemann

So! Here are my 10 favorite songs (in random order!).
The list contains 5 songs from the female fronted scene and 5 from Classic repertoire and can all be found in my/our Spotify playlists: HERE and HERE.

1. Nightwish | Ever Dream
This song just had such a major impact on me! When it came out I was preparing myself to reach a certain vocal level that would allow me to start my studies at the Conservatorium and when I heard this song for the first time I instantly felt embraced: I Love the lyrical vocal lines, the build-up and (though I normally detest the overuse of a modulation at the end of a song) the modulation at the end! It must feel like Heaven to sing this song live and it is exactly that feeling that made me feel guided whenever I listened to it.

2. ReVamp | Head Up High
I love Floor's voice and what she does in the chorus of this song really made an impression. There are more songs on this album that I really like, but this one is a good example of a good blend between the guitar parts, orchestral arrangements and different use of her stronger vocal styles. Next to that I also like these lyrics: their meaning and the brutality in which she sings and means them just fit the whole picture.

3. Stream Of Passion | Monster
Unfortunately they recently split up, but that doesn't mean that I do not still like listening to Stream Of Passion to hear my dear friend and highly talented vocalist Marcela Bovio sing. What makes this song unique is that she does not only sing in English, but also in her native tongue (Mexican). I like the piano hits that totally complement the vibe in the pre-chorus and the chorus is just one of these ultimate sing-a-long ones for a co-vocalist.

4. Epica | Deep Water Horizon
This might be one of Epica's underrated songs, but for me it's a winner. I adore Simone's voice when she sings in her natural voice in the beginning of the song, I love the build-up in the second part of the song (especially the arrangements leading into the solo), I like the message of the song and the way they've managed to make a poetic lyric of the topic and of course the adlibs at the end of the song.

5. Skunk Anansie | Secretly
This should not surprise anyone. Skin is one of my big vocal inspirations and this song is the perfect blend of impressive vocal skills and pure interpretation! She's straight to the point, not afraid to attack and she doesn't fuss!

In general, I feel most alive when singing Classical Music. There is no greater way to express myself than with these songs, simply because the way the vocal lines of that near-Perfection are composed and the way The Music wraps around the voice in an everlasting embrace, never to suffocate or smother, but always to accompany the singer who tells a tale about Sorrow/Woe. Singing these songs is not at all a performance, it is really living the notes, feeling them with every muscle in my body: the deep breaths open up my lungs, my muscles all focus on my commands like an orchestra to its conductor, my blood flows more slowly and, when my body is in full modus to engage the breath support system, the voice simply floats and bathes in the air stream. The beauty of singing Classical Music is that all is Acoustic and the play of dynamics between Voice and Instruments is always in Perfect Harmony: Pure Magic!!

6. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart | Abendempfindung, K. 523 (Performed by Dalton Baldwin & Elly Ameling)
Though Mozart is in general a little bit too light for my voice type, there are a few songs that I can sing, or really really wanted to sing and therefore managed. The lyrics to this song are from Joachim Heinrich Campe and to me his words form the most beautiful poem that is ever written on the subject of saying goodbye to a loved one.

7. Ludwig van Beethoven | Ah! Perfido, Op. 65 (Performed by Berliner Philarmoniker with Cheryl Studer; Conductor: Claudio Abbado)
When I began studying this recitativo and aria, my teacher told me It will take you up to 6 months to tame this beast, get to know and love it and boy, oh boy, did we fight! But in the end she was right! Though, yes, I could sing it after 6 months, but completely knowing the piece might take me way longer still. There are so many hooks to it, but I love everything... Every little detail! This is one of the few pieces that could really have been written for me. When I sing the words from its libretto, they truly belong to me as if I am making them up in the moment and living each emotion as if I am the one betrayed.

8. Sergei Rachmaninoff | 6 Romances, Op.4: Ne Poy, Krasavitsa, Pri Mne (Performed by Geoffrey Burleson, William Fitzpatrick & Maria Tegzes)
For some reason singing in Russian really complements my voice. Personally I think it must be because some vowels are close to the accent of the town I've grown up in. Not to say that the accent sound anything like Russian, but certain positions of the tongue match. And well... The Russians do know how to tell a tale of Melancholy, it has always felt as an honour to step into their tales of Woe.

9. Alexander von Zemlinsky | Lieder, Op.2: Um Mitternacht (Performed by Barbara Bonney, Cord Garben & Anne Sofie von Otter)
Zemlinsky is one of my favourite composers ever. Out of my favourite composers, he is the most progressive one and there is not one song of his that I do not like! His work ranges from Deep and Dark to Light and Heavenly, but always with licks and hooks to it that will never make the song predictable. The way the song evolves is a secret between the composer, singer and accompanying instruments and for the audience to find out... Isn't that just wonderful!?

10. Samuel Barber | Four Songs, op. 13: Sure On This Shining Night (Performed by London Symphony Orchestra with Barbara Hendricks; Conductor: Michael Tilson Thomas)
The youngest composer from this list (20th Century) who made the most wonderful melodies, never repetitive but always flowing like a river, down in a fast past, catching speed with every bend and never afraid to experiment within the Tonal Spectrum. His songs could (and, who knows, maybe they have been) surely be an inspiration to the more Experimental Pop Music of nowadays song writers.