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FIVE FROM THE FOLDER: MEDIUM-DIFFICULTY TREBLE VOICE MASTERWORKS by Andrew Larson
 
1.  "Suscepit Israel" (Magnificat in BWV 243). J.S. Bach, ed. Jean AshworthBartle. Hinshaw Music
Supremely elegant three-part writing; easily excerpted from BWV 243, leads nicely into any sacred piece in E major/minor.
 
2.  "Messa a 3." Giacomo Puccini. Hinshaw Music
Effective keyboard reduction; some low alto notes, but not taxing;  publisher sells excerpts; recommended for treble range all ages.
 
3.  "Christe Eleison." (Chamber Mass) Antonio Vivaldi. Roger Dean Publishing.
Try balanced double S/A choirs, or two soloists with S/A choir in call/response; simple patterns in melismas; recommended for all ages.
 
4.  "He is Good and Handsome". (Il set bel at bon)  Passereau. Bourne Co.
Greyson's adaptation keeps harmonic effect; text fits female singers; 'war-horse' in teaching tuning in modal (historic) madrigals/chansons.  
 
5.  "Praise Thou the Lord." (Lobgesang, "Hymn of Praise) Felix Mendelssohn. CPDL, Carus, or G. Schirmer
Large work with intensity of "Elijah", but smaller scale;  this excerpt for virtuosic soprano soloist and easy SSAA parts.
 
(“Five from the Folder” provides brief, text-length reviews of vocal works currently in the folders of choral directors throughout the United States.  To share five from your folder, contact Scott Dorsey at dorsey@acda.org)
(An excerpt from the Choral Journal article, “Choral/Orchestral Balance: An Old Problem Reviewed" by James Fankhauser)
 
       Can anyone imagine a choral director who would not choose to have his choir within eight feet of the podium for choral-orchestral works? Does anyone really like placing the choir at the back of the stage, behind the orchestra where they often cannot hear the instruments once they start singing? I think not. Certainly, I have used my fair share of time in concerts madly trying to recapture some errant portion of the choir that had drifted away from the prevailing tempo. Many dress rehearsals have been spent fussing at the choir to produce their usual clarity without really being able to hear what they were doing while the orchestra played. I have conducted many ritards that sprouted grotesque appendages on their way to an unhappy conclusion, the orchestra right on my stick, the choir splitting its seams. Nature of the beast, you say? Not any more!
       In choral-orchestral matters the final chapter has yet to be written. Just when everything seems to have been tried, how refreshing to find that a major break-through is possible: the beast still moves, and breathes. These are brave words. I believe, however, you will agree with me once I have outlined the results of my two experiments with a "new" concert arrangement.
       What makes this new arrangement so exciting is that it is not new at all! Instead, it is a return to the concert layouts of the late eighteenth and most of the' nineteenth centuries, layouts that will render a surprising clarity to the performance of choral music of this period.
 
READ the entire article.
Male singers are like dollar bills. We never seem to have enough.  Choral conductors have been dealing with this problem for centuries; certainly we have commented about it time, after time.
 
What’s a choral educator to do with only a handful of male singers bobbing helplessly amid a sea of female voices?  One possibility might be to utilize personnel resources in a realistic manner.  Rather than trying to form a large SATB choir with only a handful of men, separate the ladies and gentlemen into two separate choirs.  The students will then have the chance to sing in a single-gender choir in which they can enjoy success, as opposed to struggling in a woefully out-of-balance mixed chorus.
 
But, Scott, what can you do with just a few guys?”  Thanks for asking.
 
Here is a performance by an eight-voice male ensemble from a recent ACDA Divisional Conference. Yes, we grant you that these are extremely talented fellows, but it wasn’t so very long ago that each of their voices resembled a bowl of Rice Krispies®: “Snap! Crackle! Pop!”
 
Ponder, then, what YOU could do with a small group of male singers.  Oh, and pass the milk, please . . .
 
(Excerpted from the Choral Journal article, “Using the Hum and the Trill in Vocal and Choral Development,” by Margaret H. Daniel.)
 
       Whether working with voice students individually, in a small class, or in a large choral  setting, voice teachers and choir directors are challenged to find creative techniques to release the vocal potential in each student's voice. The better the sound of the individual voice, the better the sound of the choir as a whole.
       Traditional admonitions to "stand up straight," "drop your jaw," and "take a deep breath" are successful in improving tone production and vocal quality, but only to a limited extent. These exterior physical adjustments are just the framework for vocal technique.
       The desirable characteristics of beautiful singing-such as richness, warmth, clarity, and brilliance-can be achieved only when particular physical changes take place in the oral cavity: the arched or domed palate, the open, yawning throat, and the suspended larynx. Even with these physical adjustments, no tone can be produced without a steady stream of breath passing between the vocal cords. To help accomplish these technical requirements, two simple speech sounds can be incorporated in the training of voice students and choir members-the hum and the rolled or trilled ‘r’.
       There are several technically sound reasons why the hum helps to develop good singing habits and improved vocal quality. First, the aspirate h opens the throat and allows tone to be released on the breath, avoiding a glottal attack. Second, the "uh" vowel sound is a naturally occurring sound in the English language, allowing the larynx to suspend freely in the windpipe - a desirable physical adjustment in singing. Third, the sustained m helps to pull the tone forward and energize the sound. Additionally, the hum helps to release the tone in the head voice and avoid chest-voice production.
       The hum must be carefully and methodically produced. The lips should be loosely touching, the teeth a tongue's width apart, the jaw released, the back upper molars slightly lifted, and the tip of the tongue lightly touching the back of the lower front teeth. These adjustments help the throat to open and the soft palate to rise, increasing the space of the resonating cavity. With the release of a light aspirate h, the breath is set in motion, and the hum is gently produced. Humming done in this manner may cause a desirable buzzing vibration in the lips, informing the singer that the tone is free and resonant.
       Humming is an ideal initial vocalise. It should always be produced softly and lightly, almost inaudibly to the singer. It is a natural bridge from the speaking voice-with its limited pitch range-to the singing voice-with its extended range and increased technical requirements. Humming vocalizations should begin with five-note descending scales in the middle register using light, soft tone. The five-note scale can be varied with ascending-descending patterns and descending-ascending-descending variations. Begin slowly; the vocalises will later acquire more flexibility as students become more adept at producing the hum.
 
READ the entire article.
 
(Share YOUR vocal expertise by writing a future installment of “Speaking of Voice.”  Contact Scott Dorsey, dorsey@acda.org.)
It's called "The King of Instruments" for good reason.  May the force be with you.
 
FIVE FROM THE FOLDER: ASIA, AUSTRALIA and the PACIFIC ISLANDS by Sara Ross
 
1. "Hush on the Death of a Bush Church." Iain Grandage.  Morton Music MM2062.
Absolutely stunning work that combines Aboriginal chant, imperial Christian hymn structure, and Outback mining work song for a commentary on the history of the Australian Bush. SATB divisi.
 
2. "Nodle Kangbyon." Traditional Korean arr. Wallace Hornady.  earthsongs W-12.
Beautiful melodic and harmonic language, easy stretch from 2- to 4-part treble.  
 
3. "Hiraita" Traditional Japanese arr. Ken Hakoda.  Santa Barbara SBMP 559.  
Simple folk song expanded to a multi-part fugue with descants and countermelodies.  Hauntingly beautiful.  Easy pitch content but complex SATB divisi.
 
4. "Tahiti" Traditional Tahitian arr. H Jarold Harris, Alfred 16336.  
Accessible four-part men's piece with handclaps, chants, and great Pacific Island sound.  Designed for piano accompaniment but works great when singers accompany on guitar/ukelele.  TTBB.
 
5. "Sweet Tooth" Stephen Hatfield.  Colla Voce 21-20214.  
Based on Australian Aboriginal chants, this challenging piece involves body percussion, non-traditional vocal sounds, and throbbing ostinatos.  Difficult but rewarding.  SSA.
 
(“Five from the Folder” provides brief, text-length reviews of vocal works currently in the folders of choral directors throughout the United States.  To share five from YOUR folder, contact Scott Dorsey at dorsey@acda.org)
(An excerpt from the Choral Journal article “Show Choir production for Music Educators,” by Randy Boothe [p.25])
 
       Current trends of music in the public schools insure choral education majors an opportunity to direct a vocal jazz ensemble, swing or show choir at some point in their teaching career. In contrast with today's youth who are highly sophisticated through exposure to the entertainment arts, for many music educators, the popular performing arts were nonexistent in their own high school experience. Recognizing the presence of such deficiencies, and due to increased interest in the show choir movement among secondary education majors at Brigham Young University, a Show Choir Production Class was designed and taught. An attempt was made to cover in an introductory way the broad range of skills, concepts, and sequences with which the show choir conductor must familiarize himself if he is to succeed in this frequently slighted facet of music education. The course was taught on the premise that even though skills could not be mastered during this short period of time, an awareness of what resources were available for further study, research, and assistance would facilitate teaching upon arrival in the public schools.
       A review of pertinent literature, class discussions, and practical application assignments
covering the many unfamiliar facets of show choir education, assisted the student to arrange his priorities in regards to the part show choir activity may play in a total choral program. Recordings, existing campus groups, periodicals, books, examples from successful educators, Walt Disney productions, and Hollywood, enriched the classroom activity.
Watching choirs succeed is just a bucket-full of fun!
 
That’s why attending an ACDA conference is such a joy.  We have the chance to not simply hear wonderful concerts but to celebrate the months (or years!) of incredible effort that landed a choir on that distinguished stage.  These choirs didn’t buy their way into that venue (as can be done in some revered halls), they earned that performance slot.
 
It’s a special treat to hear middle-level choirs sing at a conference, where such ensembles are not nearly so common as are high school and collegiate groups.  Our colleagues working in junior high and middle schools face the common problems of inconsistent recruiting, shrinking budgets, and pernicious administrations.  In addition, these good folks also struggle with rapid turnover of singers, often dubious literature options, and the maddening vagarities of the changing voice.
 
So, when listening to this performance by a middle school mixed choir from a recent ACDA divisional conference, ponder the height of the hill that had to be scaled to get there. Then join us in celebrating their accomplishment!
 
(Excerpted from the Choral Journal article, “The Changing Voice: An Albatross?” by Kenneth H. Phillips)
 
       Healthy vocal production in the junior high and middle school years requires a good understanding of how vocal registers impact on vocal range. Girls who sing only the alto part often develop a one-register quality-chest voice. Some girls who sing only soprano also learn to sing in one vocal register-upper, much like boys in the English choral tradition. While this may be a safer vocal production, it results in a weak vocal quality below e1.
       Adolescent girls should have a two octave range from g to g2, which is possible only when they can shift easily from lower to upper vocal registers. Phonatory exercises (e.g., pulsing the voice like a dead car battery for lower voice and imitating the wind for the upper voice) will help establish a kinesthetic feeling for lower and upper registers. Also, all girls should be given the opportunity to sing both melody and harmony parts. Junior high school is too early to limit a girl's voice to one vocal classification.
       In any group of seventh- and eighth-grade boys, there will be those with unchanged, changing, and newly changed voices. If these boys are not taught to sing in the proper vocal register(s) for their stages of maturity, they will try to sing pitches that they cannot produce well, if at all, in a mismatch of vocal register and range. Boys are approaching the voice change who have not been taught to sing in the chest register below cl carry the vocal production of their boy's voice (middle-register quality) too low, thus limiting the descent of the vocal range to a weak g. Research has shown that many pubertal boys can immediately lower their vocal ranges when introduced to chest-voice quality. Pulsing the voice in imitation of a dead car battery, or barking like a big dog ("woofl"), will help these boys to locate the chest register, the voice that
most of them are using already for speech.
       The boy with a quickly changing voice often loses the ability to sing in the upper range for some time. The laryngeal change occurs so fast that he can sing only in his lower chest voice. Any attempt to sing above g usually results in straining. This boy has to relearn the use of his upper voice from the top down through phonatory exercises such as descending sirens or vocal glissandi.
 
READ the entire article.
 
(Share YOUR vocal expertise by writing a future installment of “Speaking of Voice.”  Contact Scott Dorsey, dorsey@acda.org.)
Wait, let me see if I understand this.  Some moronic humans get "upset" and kill innocent children, but these two critters from different species get along like best pals.  Our friends here have life figured out nicely.
 
FIVE FROM THE FOLDER: ETHNIC & MULTICULTURAL by Sharon Davis Gratto
 
(Note:  Selections #1 and #2 are effective works to perform for November Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass) or April Holocaust observances.)
 
1.  “Tsen Brider” (Ten Brothers) (Yiddish).  Martin Rosenberg arr. Jacobsen. SATB with piano/Transcontinental Publishing.
Written in the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1942.  Includes moving vocal sounds of gas chambers where the brothers murdered one at a time.
 
2.  “Ani Ma'amin” (Sephardic Hebrew). Arr Caldwell & Ivory. Unison. Earthsongs.
Expresses faith in the Messiah’s coming.  Beautiful, violin part. Written for treble choir but can work with any choir.
 
3.  “Yanaway Heyona” (Iroquois).  Arr. Brian Tate.  SATB.  Pavane (Hal Leonard).
Traditional calling song or lullaby of the Iroquois, a six nation Native American confederacy.  This arrangement can be performed standing in circles arranged by voice part.  Provides opportunities for singers of any age and includes improvisation. 
 
4.  “Janger” (Indonesia).  Arr. Budi Susanto Yohanes.  SATB a cappella.  Earthsongs.
“Janger” refers to a fast and energetic dance; arrangement includes sounds in imitation of instruments of the Balinese Gamelan.  Great vehicle for creative movement and to perform with a university or community Gamelan.
 
5.  “Ose Ayo” (Sunrise Song). Arr. Tate, Ogunmekan, and Gratto.  SATB a cappella.  Pavane.
The song text expresses hope, thanks, and/or joy for the arrival of a new day.  Includes suggestions for African percussion instrument accompaniment.
 
(“Five from the Folder” provides brief, text-length reviews of vocal works currently in the folders of choral directors throughout the United States.  To share five from your folder, contact Scott Dorsey at dorsey@acda.org)