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luderart

Question About Modern Choir Piece

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Can A Modern Song Written In Four Parts Be Judged Unsuitable To Be Sung By A Choir Simply Because It Fails To Follow The Principles Of Voice-Leading?

That's what the conductor of a choir did when I offered my short song to the choir. The song sounds great and respects the ranges of the four voices.

Song.mp3

post-1163-0-75676100-1332349469_thumb.jp

Edited by luderart
Moved ridiculously long title to OP
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Maybe your song sucked. Have you considered that?

Are you questioning my judgement here? I told you above that the song sounded great!

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Perhaps, instead of petty jabs over generalizations and speculation, you could show us this song. We then might have more objective and constructive feedback as to why your song was not welcomed by your conductor.

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Perhaps, instead of petty jabs over generalizations and speculation, you could show us this song. We then might have more objective and constructive feedback as to why your song was not welcomed by your conductor.

I don't think that's a bad idea. But where do I post it (specifically for this topic)?

I just posted an MP3 of the song for your benefit in the OP.

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Uh.. an mp3 will not help us see the voice leading...

Well, thanks for telling me. I posted also a JPG of the song's score (without the words).

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"The song sounds great" :headwall:

I like the melody (soprano line) but awful harmony and voice leading.

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"The song sounds great" :headwall:

I like the melody (soprano line) but awful harmony and voice leading.

Well, thanks for the feedback.

Is there a quick way to learn the basics of voice leading?

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There are many good books/ebooks on the net:

Piston Walters: Harmony etc.

I downloaded a torrent file that contains many useful stuff: harmony, counterpoint, orchestration, many many good books in pdf i've learnt a lof from theme O.o

I can send you a link if interested...^^

EDIT

..........

once you've learnt the basics...download "Harmony Practise 3" its a free software...it knows all the rules in voice leading and with it you can practise it....it also helped me a lot....its very hard at first to keep in mind all the rules

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There are many good books/ebooks on the net:

Piston Walters: Harmony etc.

I downloaded a torrent file that contains many useful stuff: harmony, counterpoint, orchestration, many many good books in pdf i've learnt a lof from theme O.o

I can send you a link if interested...^^

Yeah, I would be greatly interested. I have the Piston Harmony book but haven't read except parts of it. And as I was saying in another thread, reading it is one thing but applying what you read in compositions is completely another thing.

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Yeah. It's just very jumpy. And, not in an effective way. Choir directors won't spend that much time on that short of a piece because it is too tough for the singers to really grasp in a short amount of time.

Voice leading will help you to find easy ways to make difficult sounding things. ;)

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Also, your lines are quite awkward for some of the ranges, esp. the tenor. And parallels all over the place is just lazy composition.

This is bad. Start over please.

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No, it takes work to master.

There are lots of problems with the piece, but that's not why he said that. He said that because he didn't take it seriously, and neither do I. You have obviously put a full half hour into it.

If it will take the performers longer to learn it than it took you to write it, chances are nobody will be interested in it. And if this took you a long time to write, maybe you would make a great insurance salesman?

Keep your suggestion to yourself! You must remember that I also had to struggle with having to fit words to it. I was also the composer of the words of the song. And in fact I had never intended to put my piece here for your cruel dissection of it (as well as that of anyone caring to give their opinion). It was only after someone said that it might make it easier to know what we are talking about if I posted the piece. Innocently I obliged, even going so far as to post the score. Fortunately, I stopped short of sharing the words too.

Let me here ask a broader question. How do you judge a piece of music after all? Isn't it by the way it sounds? So, to me this piece sounds just the way I wanted it to sound. (I can improve it only by becoming a better composer in the future.) And if we judge music by the way it sounds, then why are people asking for the score to judge a piece? Are they afraid to trust their ears to judge for fear they might miss a disregarded "rule"?

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Keep your suggestion to yourself! You must remember that I also had to struggle with having to fit words to it. I was also the composer of the words of the song. And in fact I had never intended to put my piece here for your cruel dissection of it (as well as that of anyone caring to give their opinion). It was only after someone said that it might make it easier to know what we are talking about if I posted the piece. Innocently I obliged, even going so far as to post the score. Fortunately, I stopped short of sharing the words too.

Let me here ask a broader question. How do you judge a piece of music after all? Isn't it by the way it sounds? So, to me this piece sounds just the way I wanted it to sound. (I can improve it only by becoming a better composer in the future.) And if we judge music by the way it sounds, then why are people asking for the score to judge a piece? Are they afraid to trust their ears to judge for fear they might miss a disregarded "rule"?

Don't worry, he's an idiot. But to answer your question, no. It's just with having a work actually performed, the performer has to be generally familiar with the style of composition unless they have a decent length of time to study it. If you're giving music to a group (and you aren't famous), it should generally be in a common style, or else easily graspable.

The piece you showed us is not in a vocal style at all. Look at the chords you are creating and try to hold common tones whenever you can. The piece looks piano-like or perhaps even more, brass-like.

I don't think Piston's book is good for a beginner. It doesn't hold your hand. Studying common practice harmony will solve a lot of your problems.

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Let me here ask a broader question. How do you judge a piece of music after all? Isn't it by the way it sounds? So, to me this piece sounds just the way I wanted it to sound. (I can improve it only by becoming a better composer in the future.) And if we judge music by the way it sounds, then why are people asking for the score to judge a piece? Are they afraid to trust their ears to judge for fear they might miss a disregarded "rule"?

What a computer spits out is not how it sounds, only what the computer's interpretation of it is. You will only hear how it really sounds by hearing it sung by a choir. Ironically, the piece isn't written well for choir at all, so you will never hear how it sounds. What I think your problem is that you don't know what sounds good. This is fine when you're young and ignorant: you will learn. The "rules" are there because they sound good, not because they're arbitrary. Listen to a good piece of music and those "rules" are followed a lot. That's the point of theory and study of scores.

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If you didn't post it for people to dissect, why post it? If you're so offended by people's opinions why show it to anyone at all? Take the criticism as a learning experience, and you can grow as a composer. Keep this same attitude, and you'll never learn anything.

CRUELLY, Mr. Insurance salesman! If it was about learning, then why are you making the broad judgement that I shouldn't even try composing at all?

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CRUELLY, Mr. Insurance salesman! If it was about learning, then why are you making the broad judgement that I shouldn't even try composing at all?

He's trolling - he's trying to get you upset to get his jollies. Just ignore him, he's not even being serious. Don't be discouraged either. Keep listening to music.

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What a computer spits out is not how it sounds, only what the computer's interpretation of it is. You will only hear how it really sounds by hearing it sung by a choir. Ironically, the piece isn't written well for choir at all, so you will never hear how it sounds. What I think your problem is that you don't know what sounds good. This is fine when you're young and ignorant: you will learn. The "rules" are there because they sound good, not because they're arbitrary. Listen to a good piece of music and those "rules" are followed a lot. That's the point of theory and study of scores.

I agree that it's the computer's interpretation. I know that a human would interpret it much differently, with human feeling and touch. For me the only good way to really know how your music sounds is to have a piece of yours taken seriously and performed. Unfortunately, that has almost never happened with me. So for me rules cannot persuade me to change my piece but a demonstration by a choir might. Unfortunately that indeed may never happen as you say.

All this talk is also making me wonder about the question of how a new style is born. If we are all required to write in given styles in order to secure performance, how then can we forge original styles? Perhaps my song is a venture into an original style? Is that impossible? Unless it is taken seriously and performed, is there any way to know if it isn't?

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Perhaps my song is a venture into an original style? Is that impossible?

It isn't and yes.

You're not a misunderstood genius; the piece is bad. You should take to heart the criticisms and suggestions here. You will not get better if you ignore anything negative said about you.

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I'm sorry to be harsh, but you need to realize that there are some fundamental problems with your piece, because if you don't, you won't be getting anything else performed in the future either.

I'm not one of the "pros" here, but I know there is a lot that is wrong with it:

-it's way too jumpy. Middle voices in particular jump around less than the outer voices, so what you are writing is not idiomatic. I wouldn't call that original, I'd call it not knowing how to write.

-your harmonies are incredibly basic. Most of the time, you have two notes spread between four voices. That isn't even triadic harmony (though it's implied). What's the point in writing for four voices if this is the case?

-your spacing is really bad. You don't want to have more than an octave between any of the upper three voices at any time (i.e., between the tenor and alto, and alto and soprano. You can obviously have more than an octave between the tenor and soprano). You can have more than an octave between the bass and tenor. Generally, you don't want the bass and tenor too close because it tends to sound muddy (especially thirds). Fourths and fifths are good intervals to have between B and T simply because of the acoustical properties of sound. (This also applies in instrumental music.)

-you cross voices, e.g., 1st bar, 2nd to 3rd beat. I'm not going to point out where else you do it. This has the effect of making it sound like one of the voices has disappeared.

-homophony can be used effectively for certain passages, but I don't think it's a good idea to write an entire piece in a homophonic style. It's boring.

-traditionally, singers have hated augmented seconds. Maybe that's less of a case now, but for your purposes, I'd avoid it.

In short, you need to get a book on four-part harmony. Barring that, study some Bach chorales. But you really need to learn some basic rules first. I've mentioned a few.

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I like how most responses here are "Your piece is bad", not "Your piece needs work. this is what's wrong and this is how you make it better"

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The tenor is very low, but it doesn't seem that hard compared to a lot of modern choir music, perhaps you're just writing to an amateur choir and need to re-arrange some of the voices because of that.

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It isn't and yes.

You're not a misunderstood genius; the piece is bad. You should take to heart the criticisms and suggestions here. You will not get better if you ignore anything negative said about you.

I never ignored the negative things said about the piece. I only objected to the way they were said and the way Dominus Vobiscum addressed me. I even went so far as to thank Norby for his feedback (which incidentally included the word "awful" in reference to my harmony and voice leading). Perhaps that kind of positivity and openness to criticism was misinterpreted by Dominus Vobiscum as an invitation for abuse?

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