The October and November 2015 issue of Choral Journal included a two-part article titled “Ten Keys to Unlocking Artistic Choral Performance” by Frank Eychaner. Following are short excerpts from Keys 1-3. You can read it in its entirety online at acda.org/choraljournal. Click “Search Archives” and choose October 2015 (part 1) or November 2015 (part 2) from the dropdown menu.
The gap between an uninspired reading of the notes on the page and an artful performance is monumental. The following ten keys can help us bridge that gap, “unlocking” the expressive powers of our singers through the music we make with them. These “keys,” a compilation of the best practices of some of the finest minds in the music world, have served me well in my quest for choral artistry, and it is my hope they can serve you.
Key 1: Text
The text of a musical selection presents challenges in two areas: the message and the delivery. The first challenge is addressed as we consider repertoire… Once repertoire has been chosen, we address how that text is delivered.
Key 2: Note Groupings
Not every note in a musical phrase is of equal importance. Like words forming a sentence, notes in a phrase are part of musical sentences in which some are nouns and verbs (more important) and others are adjectives, conjunctions, and adverbs (of lesser importance although belonging to the more important notes).
Key 3: Dynamics and Articulation
The dynamics of a work must be considered many levels. Within each note of a pulse or longer, there is growth or decay, organic movement from soft to loud and/or loud to soft. Dotted notes and tied notes almost invariably grow through the dot. At cadences, non-harmonics are more prominent than their resolutions. Phrases have direction that is sometimes indicated in a written dynamic but more often is not indicated explicitly: ascending lines frequently build to a musical or textual climax, and descents decay to a sensitive release. Don’t neglect the implied dynamics. Go somewhere with the line!
Read the rest of this article (and more!) in the October and November 2015 issues of Choral Journal, available online at acda.org.