Week 22: Friday, August 17, 2018
“She Tore A Map” by Timothy C. Takach
Text by Naomi Shihab Nye
Looking for an uptempo piece with a fun story-driven text and a jaunty style, especially one that is SA and accessible for a wide range of abilities? If so, this selection by Timothy Takach is a perfect choice.
Lots of music for women’s and treble choirs is frequently slow, smooth, and pretty. That doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of excellent uptempo works out there, but finding things that are faster and accessible for an SA ensemble and that don’t feel too simplistic or childish can sometimes be a tall order.
Graphite Publishing describes this work as “something fun and a bit unconventional ‐ quirky rhythms, easy voice leading, and a delightful story.” I haven’t had a chance to program this work yet, but it’s on my “must do” list. It would be a great addition to a variety of concerts – whether a general program or a theme about poetry/poems, stories, or traveling. In addition, if you are working on an all-district or all-county festival, it could be just the right piece to add. It’s not too difficult of a read, but isn’t too easy either, and can get the students engaged right from the start.
Commissioned by the Graphite Publishing 2015-16 Women’s Choir Commissioning Consortium, this work was made possible by a group of twelve ensembles, ranging from middle school and high school to college. Consortiums like this one are large groups coordinated by publishers or NAfME chapters or ACDA areas, usually with several like-minded and like-skilled ensembles who all buy in to the project. If you are interested in being a part of a new work, this can be an excellent way to do so.
The poetry for this work, “Torn Map,” is charming. In it, a girl mistakenly tears a map in half, and then puts it back together askew. Now the roads lead to different places, and the journeys are unexpected. The poem ends with a question – wondering if adjusting a map like that could bring her closer to people she’s missing. Naomi Shihab Nye, the poet, grew up with a Palestinian father and American mother, and moved between countries. Her experiences with multiple cultures and homes often influences her writing – both poetry and novels.
Harmonically, the voice parts are mostly diatonic, and could be taught using solfege. There are a number of skips and leaps, in addition to stepwise motion, but nothing larger than a fifth. The voice parts are almost entirely homophonic, creating vertical harmony in two parts, but not two independent ideas. This is a great choice for an ensemble that can hold two parts and isn’t quite ready for a third, but who still wants to challenge themselves rhythmically.
Speaking of rhythms…this is where the fun begins! Most of the notes are quarters, dotted quarters, and eighths – all quite readable. But there are also a handful of borrowed triplet patterns (with and without eighth rests), plus ties, and rests where you may not expect them. Counting of rests is paramount. Be prepared for some hilarity in early rehearsals when trying to get all the rests lined up together!
In terms of style, Takach’s setting is bouncy and springy, with the accompaniment providing a great deal of character. The opening half of the song is marked Playfully, with the occasional Thoughtful measure thrown in. The brief “thoughtful” measures, inserted unexpectedly, are smooth and legato with minimal rests, while the larger “playful” phrases feel fragmented and disjointed, just like the torn edges of the map. As the song progresses and the map edges even out a bit, the music becomes more broad and fluid. A return of the “playful” motive ends the piece on a humorous note, sure to make your audience smile.
Between the amusing but thought-provoking text, the accessible SA voice parts, and the delightful musical setting, this work by Timothy Takach is sure to be a wonderful addition to your next concert.
|Title:||She Tore A Map|
|Composer:||Timothy C. Takach|
|Date of Composition:||2015|
from Come with me – Poems from a Journey
by Naomi Shihab Nye
|Date of Text:||2000|
|Subject(s), Genre:||Journeys, Families, New Beginnings, Humor|
|Voicing Details:||SA, no divisi|
|Tempo:||MM=100 Playfully, 92 Thoughtfully, 70 Broadly|
|Commissioning Ensemble:||Graphite Publishing 2015-16 Women’s Choir Commissioning Consortium|
|Publisher:||Graphite Publishing GP-T015|
|Further descriptions and details, including program notes, audio, perusal score, and purchasing:|
Until next week!
Dr. Shelbie Wahl-Fouts is associate professor of music, Director of Choral Activities, and music department chair at Hollins University, a women’s college in Roanoke, Virginia.