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EmperorWeeGeeII

Learning Basic Choir Composing: Where To Start?

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Do you guys know a place (preferably a website, or maybe a yt channel) where i can learn the basics of choir writing? (My google search on the topic didn't bring me as much clarity as it should have).

 

Hell, i don't know what a tenor or an alto is, much less a soprano. Does choir behave like transposing instruments?

 

 

 

 

Also, are going to have competitions on july?

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One of the most important things to think about is where each part will get their notes from.  Since there is no key a singer plunks to get an F, they just have to pluck it out of thin air.  So finding a pitch out of nowhere for a weird chord is challenging.  Things need to be reasonably intuitive.  Make sure you can sing all the lines you write fairly easily in context.  Use your notation software to play back the other three parts, and see if you can sing the last one along with.  If you are having trouble landing solidly on that F and you wrote the piece, they will too.  A lot of the basic composition rules are written to help just this problem:  Not too much part crossing, not too many leaps by difficult intervals, if two chords in succession have a common note, it should stay in the same voice part if possible...

 

Breathing is also really important for singers.  Good breath support is important for tuning and tone quality, so try not to write ridiculously long lines where there is no chance to sneak out for a breath.  (Larger groups can stagger breathe seamlessly, but for a small group, if one singer sneaks out, the gap may be noticeable.)  Again, if you can sing it, someone else probably can too.  

 

And the music should always follow the rhythm of the words to a certain extent.  If your strong syllables tend to fall on strong musical beats, your music will feel natural and intuitive.  It can be a fun thing to play with this expectation to make something tongue twister-y or fun, but if you're playing with that, you want it to be something you've thought about deliberately.  Don't just plunk down random words onto a tune you've already composed and harmonized.  Be thinking about what words will go where, while you write the tune.  

 

cpdl.org has all sorts of great public domain choral works that you can download.  Go see what the famous composers scores look like and get some ideas.  (:

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The important thing about choral composing is to know the choir you are writing for. Some choirs have good basses, some of them don't. If you don't have a specific choir in mind, try to compose in ranges most of the more or less quality choir feel comfortable. Don't forget about breathing! Don't use basses only in low registers, as well as sopranos only in high registers. Be careful about dynamics and try to use the text as appropriate as possible.

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Yep, that looks fine, WeeGee.  Although women who sing are more common than men who sing, so it's more common to have a 3 part women's division (Soprano 1, Sop 2, Alto, or Soprano, Alto 1, Alto 2) than a 3 part men's division.  (Tenors are like gold.  Our macho man culture mean that guys with high voices tend to learn the cello instead of singing.  Although all rock stars are tenors and the romantic leads in musicals and opera are always tenors.  Shrug.  These guys don't know what they're missing.)  

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I very strongly recommend Gordon Delamont's "Modern Harmonic Technique" Volume I+II books. Very clear, extremely detailed and easy to understand books teaching harmony and composition in 4-part 'Soprano, Alto, Tenor and Bass' writing.

Edited by ansthenia

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U238's advice is the best. Sing in a community choir. You can learn about the limits of the voice, how pieces can be structured to best help rehearsal, what sounds good, what pieces make you hate the composer (and therefore will not do as well)... All kinds of great things come with actually singing in an ensemble.

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I just joined a choir last week and we sung today some parts of Bach's St. John Passion. It's really a wonderful experience for a composer (and for a musician as well).

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Seriously. We have a local orchestra, but no choirs that i know of

 

Every town in America has a million choirs.

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Except i don't really live in America

 

Is there a church in your town?

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there are no choirs available where i live

 

So why are you interested in composing for choir if there isn't one to sing your music? Were you planning to sing all the parts yourself and overdub them? ;)

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The problem with church choirs, is that i am not exactly a religious person. They also aren't likely to sing anything that i compose them. The big local churches surelu have choirs but i don't really have that much time to join one either.

Edited by EmperorWeeGeeII

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