Tavener - The Lamb

Taken from the AS Music Revision Guide

  • Created by: Stephanie
  • Created on: 20-11-14 18:54


  • Composed 1982
  • Setting of a Poem by William Blake
  • Non liturgical but sometimes sung as an anthem during Evensong, also popular at carol concerts
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Rhythm and Metre

  • No time signature or regular pulse
  • Performance direction is "flexible - always guided byt eh words"
  • Consists of mainly even quavers, with some longer note lengths to mark the end of each phrase
  • Primarily homorhythmic
  • Augmentation at the end of each verse
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Melody and Word Setting

  • Mainly syllabic, with occasional slurs
  • Three upper parts have a narrow range (Soprano has augmented 5th)
  • Bass covers a wide range of a 12th
  • Opening motif generates material for the whole piece, and consists of the four pitches that circle around the note G (G-B-A-F#)
  • Remaining melodic material is derived from repetition or retrograde of the original phrase
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Harmony and Tonality

  • Different phrases of the work could be suggested as tonal, bitonal or modal:

- First bar suggests G major

- Second bar is bitonal (Sopranos stay in G major, Alto line suggest Eb major, inversion of the   soprano line)

- Final bar is in the Aeolian mode on E

  • Some of the harmonic writing seems conventional:

- The four-part harmony based on triads and 7th chords

- The double suspensions in bars 7-10, which are prepared and resolved

  • Other aspects are less conventional (consecutive 5ths in the soprano and tenor parts)
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  • The work is strophic
  • There are two verses; the second is essentially the same as the first but has a fuller texture
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Resources and Texture

  • The work is written for four-part unaccompanied choir (SATB)
  • The dynamic range is restricted to mp-pp
  • Various textures are employed

- Monophony (bar 1)

- Two-part homophony (bar 2)

- Four-part homophony (bars 9-10)

- Octaves (bar 11)

- Octave pairings of soprano and tenor, alto and bass (bars 15-16)

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