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Choral Music Review Exploratory Essay

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Updated: Apr 4th, 2019

Choral Music. Choral music is written for a particular group of people to sing. Therefore, a choir of six to three hundred and sixty singers sings the music. This kind of music is commonly practiced in schools and by church choirs and has special arrangements of voices to enhance its quality.

One singer singing the verse as the other members of the choir sing the chorus can at times perform choral music. It can also be performed in a manner that a group of singers with similar voices sings one verse as the others with same voices also sing the following verse. This uniqueness in choral music of combining various voices in multiple lines of music increases the power of music hence improving the quality of music (Hughes 49).

Choral music is one of the various categories of music that have developed since the medieval time to the contemporary period as many singers developed interest towards it, which made them try to improve it.

During the medieval period, choirs could perform choral music in one version only where the soloist could sing the verses as the other members sang the chorus in unison. During the 14th and 15th century which is referred to as the renaissance period, choral music underwent through developments and could be performed by four types of voices (Crane 54).

In the late 20th and 21st century, many musicians have tried various experiments on the choral music, which has led to the development of choral music as it is being performed in the present time.

Due to the introduction of tone and modern harmony in the field of music, musicians of the choral music are able to apply the four types of voices, which are soprano, alto, tenor and bass. Choral music has also borrowed ideas from other categories of music like the classical concerts to come up with cantata type of choral music where singers act as they sing along (Hughes 67).

Choral musicians pass their culture to the following generations since they compose their choral music based on their culture. For instance, when staging their choral music, they use traditional costumes and instruments. Analysis of choral music involves discussion of various parts. These include parts of choral music, voices involved, categories of choral music and performers of the choral music (Mathiesen 56).

Parts. Choral music can have two or more parts. When a musician composes a choral music, he or she ensures that the song to be performed has at least two parts of equal importance. The parts should therefore stand out independently but should agree on stage.

Voices. Choral music is largely performed in four voices: soprano, tenor, alto and bass. When a musician writes a choral song he has to ensure that the four voices are well represented in the keynote and tonal variation (Daugherty 1).

Types. Choral verse has various sub categories. They include anthem, cappella, cantata, motet and oratorio.

Anthem. Anthem choral music is sung to give praise or give thanks. For instance in churches, Christians sing thanksgiving songs to God as the Israelites did when God saved them from bondage of slavery in Egypt. People praising their country can also sing a national anthem. These kinds of songs can therefore be performed in soprano, alto tenor and bass (SABT) and with the accompaniment of musical instruments (Daugherty 1).

Cantata. In this type one or more than voices, which are usually a combination of solos, duets or even choruses, perform this music. Instruments also accompany this music (Crane 60)

Cappella. This type of choral music was invented during the 13th century. It was performed in churches usually with one person or a group of people in unison without any accompaniment of musical instruments (Crane 60).

Oratorio. This type of music is usually performed by a large group, which consists of soloists, orchestra and the choir. It can either be a sacred or semi-sacred music, which is presented in a dramatic manner as in theatre. Even though it can be written as a sacred music, it is not meant for liturgical use and can therefore be performed in concerts halls. It does not involve the use of costumes (Daugherty 2).

Motet. This kind of choral music started in 13th century. The music can be performed either as a sacred or as a secular piece of work. Soloist with the accompaniment of the musical instruments therefore performs it.

Performers. This kind of choral music is performed in such a manner that singers of similar voices can sing each part of the music, which will be independent on its own, but agreeing with the parts their counter parts would be singing. For instance, it can be a choral music between the soprano against alto or even a combination of the two voices against tenor and bass (Mathiesen and Warren 1).

Choral Music Classification. In choral music, voices are categorized based on the vocal ranges of the performers. The voices are therefore divided as either low or high. This has been a problem in the area of choral music classification as some of the participants will be either singing too low or too high in reference to their voices.

This happens to singers with medium voices. For example, females with mezzo-soprano are forced to sing either soprano, which would be too high for them, or alto, which again would be too low for them. The same case happens to male singers with the baritone voice, as they would sing either tenor or bass. This situation can therefore cause problems to the singers especially those forced to sing too high (Daugherty 2).

Stage Arrangement. In a stage presentation, there are various arrangements but there is a common arrangement where the conductor of the choral music stands in front of the orchestra as the choir members orders themselves right from the highest voices to the lowest voices in a straight line. Another arrangement involves male singers arranging themselves just behind the female singers and the bass just right behind the soprano for them to tune each other as it is done in a cappella.

Lastly, performers can be mixed as practiced by the more developed choirs. It is believed that this kind of arrangement helps singers to hear the song and tune other parts but to some extent, it can make other singers get lost from the lines hence reducing the power of the chorus to the audience. In all types of music, it is important to ensure there is enough space for all singers for them to be able to sing freely (Mathiesen and Warren 1).

Works Cited

Crane, Frederick. Extant Medieval Musical Instruments: A Provisional Catalogue by Types. Lowa City: University of Lowa Press, 1972. Print.

Daugherty, James. “Spacing, Formation, and Choral Sound: Preferences and Perceptions of Auditors and Choristers.” Journal of Research in Music Education 47(1999): 3. Print.

Hughes, Andrew. Medieval Music: The Sixth Liberal Art (Revised Edition). Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1980. Print.

Mathiesen, Thomas. A Bibliography of Sources for the Study of Ancient Greek Music. Hackensack: Joseph Boonin, 1974. Print.

Mathiesen, Thomas and Warren, Anderson. “Terence.” The New Grove Dictionary Of Music And Musicians 25 (2001): 296. Print.

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