Choral Music

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  • Created by: GrB
  • Created on: 28-08-15 15:03
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  • Choral Music
    • Types of Choral Music
      • Before the 14th century, at church monks used to sing plainsong ( a unison chant).
      • Choral music in renaissance and baroque times was sacred.
      • Masses were sung in catholic churches.
      • A requiem is a mass for the dead.
      • An Oratorio is a bible story set to music. Bach and Handel became famous for their masses and oratorios. An oratorio is made up of chorus parts and solo parts.
        • Messiah is a famous oratorio by Handel.
          • Messiah tells the story of Jesus' life.
          • It is written for SATB soloists, SATB choir and full orchestra. At the time it was written all parts would have been performed by men.
          • Handel wrote it for small choirs however in the victorian era it would have been performed by huge choirs.
          • A lot of messiah is melismatic. In the chorus the soprano sings a succession of 57 notes on the word born.
          • Handel uses word painting. The word crooked is split over four notes each it is sung.
      • The main type of secular choral music was choruses in operas. The chorus explains what is happening in the story or reacts to the story.
    • Choirs
      • Baroque choirs were small and sometimes only had one singer for each part. All parts were sung by men as women were banned from singing in church.
      • Most choir music was written for 4 types of voice: treble, falsetto (high pitched voice), tenor and bass.
      • Victorian choirs were very big. they often had over 100 members. singing in a choral society was a popular victorian hobby.
      • Some choirs were mixed sex with music arranged for SATB voices.
      • All Female choirs are usually arranged SSAA or SSA, Male voice choirs are usually TTBB.
      • Soloists can be mezzo soprano or baritones.
    • 20th and 21st Century Choirs
      • Modern choirs are a lot smaller than victorian choirs. they will still have around 80 members though.
      • A lot of modern choral music is written for chamber choir and orchestra. Chamber choirs have around 20-25 members.
      • Profesional choirs usually perform in concert halls. Amateur choirs will perform in school halls or churches.
    • Modern Choir Pieces
      • Composers like Schoenberg, Messiaen and Penderecki experimented with atonal music. They used discordant sounds and clashing harmonies. These were difficult to sing and hard to listen to.
        • Carmina Burana is a 20th century choral work.
          • It is by Carl Orff and is based on 24 medieval poems about secular topics such as money, drink and gambling.
          • The most famous piece in Carmina Burana is O Fortuna. It starts and ends the whole thing. It's written for huge orchestra, a main choir, a chamber choir and a boys'' choir
          • It has a lot of time changes and the rhythms follow the words which makes it very exciting. It uses 8 timpani which makes it dramatic. Tyhe texture is homophonic and the chiorus sings in unison, parallel thirds or major and minor triads. These harmonies were considered primitive at this time.
          • Carl Orff wanted Carmina Burana to be performed With lots of speech, movement and dance. He calle dthis idea Theatrum Mundi.
      • Benjamin Britten wrote a war Requiem using latin words with the poems of Wilfred Owen.
      • Vaughan Williams wrote a lot of choral works as well as popular English folk songs for choirs.
    • Modern Choral Composers
      • John Rutter is a well known 20th and 21st century composer. Most of his compositions are arrangements of existing works. He composes hymns, carols and anthems. Rutter didn't follow what other composers were doing, he ignored serialism and minimalism which were popular at the time and wrote songs similar to English and French choral music. He was influenced by American song writing especially musicals. He wanted to write catchy tunes people would want to sing. In his compositions Rutter uses a variation of accompanim-ents.
      • Sir John Tavener was inspired by poems such as that of William Blake and also religious ideas. One of his best known pieces is Song For Athene. His music is more discordant and modern than Rutter's.
      • Karl Jenkins writes music with interesting rhythmic ideas which ism easy to listen to. His most famous work id Adiemus. It is a large vocal work written in a made up language. He uses the voices like instruments. It is written for all female choir and sounds like ethnic or world music.


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