The latest issue of Choral Journal is online and features an article titled “His Light Still Shines:
An Artistic Style for Moses Hogan Spirituals” by Loneka Wilkinson Battiste. You can read it in its entirety online at acda.org/choraljournal. Following is a portion from the introduction
The popularity of Moses Hogan’s music is likely connected to the ways in which his musical background informed the creativity found in his arrangements. Both music of the African American Baptist church and jazz, historically attributed to African Americans, embody what Olly Wilson described as specific conceptual approaches to music making that are common in West African and African American musics: the organization of rhythm based on the principle of rhythmic and implied metrical contrast, singing or playing an instrument in a percussive manner, the use of call-and-response, a high density of musical events, and the tendency to incorporate body movements in the music making process.4 The first four of these approaches are common in Moses Hogan spirituals.
An ideal choral tone for Moses Hogan spirituals was described by former members of his ensembles and expert choral conductors as warm, rich, round, dark, and heavy, with a slightly lighter tone used for fast pieces and darker sounds used on slow pieces. Hogan handpicked his ensemble members to include a mixture of younger and older voices, lighter and darker voices, all of which blended together to create a particular sound that Hogan desired for his arrangements. His method for creating a choral tone specific to his arrangements through the member selection process is context-specific. Singers must refrain from artificially altering the sound to produce exaggerated approximations of a dark choral tone.
There are additional characteristics of Hogan’s ensembles one might consider for each section of the ensemble. In Hogan’s arrangements, not only does the soprano line usually carry the melody, there are often very high obbligato parts written for the soprano voices.
View this full article (and more!) in the December 2020 issue of Choral Journal, available online at acda.org.