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Regina coeli


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Regina coeli (Queen of Heaven) is a latin verse and chant for the Easter Holidays.
In the spirit of 2016's Easter, I made this composition for regular SATB choir with the following syntax:

The sentences of the verse before every "alleluia" are repeated twice. Firstly forte, then piano (as an echo).

The "allaluia" parts are trying to follow the same harmonies and structure.

I deem this piece as a minimalist-styled choral, because it's simple rhithmics, harmonies, and modesty.

Recorded with Garritan Instruments' choir soundbanks.

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I enjoyed this setting very much indeed!  You have nicely captured the joyful, ebullient, breathlessly wonder-filled spirit of the text and the Easter season, and I daresay that's not easily done right in this jaded, soulless day and age.  My sincere compliments to you on the spirit of this work alone, apart from everything else!

Not being too sure how much experience and pertinent education you have, I think overall your part writing is pretty good.  You have chosen some unusual chord voicings that actually work better than I might have thought they might, and they give the setting a fresh and individual sound.  That said, this appears to be intentionally a fairly traditional setting in style, and therefore, in my opinion, some of the voice leading is problematic.  It may "sound" fine as is, but there are actually quite a number of things you could have easily done that would make it sound better in regard to voice leading - actually too many to number here.  I can give a couple of examples though:

* The movement of tenor and bass from measures 28 to 29 is in parallel fifths, which are illegal in a traditional, almost Classical style such as this, and are actually rarely a very good idea except when a particular and obvious effect in a more modern style is desired.  If you knew this, and it was an oversight, then I'm calling your attention to it; if you didn't know, this kind of parallel motion (in parallel fifths or octaves) has been a no-no for over 500 years in traditional harmony, and there are acoustical reasons for rules such as these that come from centuries of trial and error during the Middle Ages, and musicologists have been writing long, involved books about them ever since, so they're not arbitrary.  At any rate, the illegal parallel motion is easily avoided by taking the tenor note on beat 3 of measure 28 up to an E-flat, then taking it back down to the C on beat 1 of measure 29.

* In measure 9, the problem is with chord voicing, rather than voice motion.  You begin with the soprano and alto alone, in a bare, unadorned open fifth - again, not at all advisable in this style.  My suggestion would be to change the alto notes on beats 1 and 2 to a D below the staff, effectively altering the open fifth to a tenth, much more pleasing to the ear.  This also changes the motion of the parts from beat 2 to beat 3 from parallel to contrary motion, adding desirable variety.

If you like, I can post a more complete list of suggestions - or better yet, the piece is short enough that I would be glad to show you in score form what I might have done to make the part writing and voice leading better.  Please let me know if you would like me to do that.  I just don't want you to feel like I'm ripping the piece apart at first introduction and without your permission, because I really like what you have done here, and I mean it very sincerely; my only interest in doing it would be to show you a better way, and to make what is already a very good piece the best it can be.

Keep up the very fine work, and again, my compliments!

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Dear J. Lee Graham!

I am truly appreciated you replied on this post with such satisfying, helpful, and honest comment.
As my musical studies, I learnt in elementary music school for 3 years (piano, singing, and a bit brass), and graduated of six years curriculum of solfeggio with maximum score at the exam. That means I am really intrested in musical theory, and music itself. :) (By the way I am considering to apply to Liszt Ferenc University of Music in Hungary as a musical theory and conductor-teacher. And if everything goes well, maybe PhD of music in order to teach at university.)
The parallel fifths was a mistake, because as you noticed well, I was trying to follow the classical composing style in this piece. When I'm doing that, I always avoid parallels as fifths, octaces, (firsts, if the similar note is doubled and it's not unisono,) and also reduplicative thirds in a dominant, predominant and tonic chords.
I am really grateful you've noticed and let me know about the mistakes I made.
Considering measure 9, where I used the fifths you mentioned... I think it was because I was trying to make a religious music. In such pieces, using open fifths even in classical style are close to me and I like, because it gives me the feeling of the religion. Or I don't actually know how to talk about this. Maybe in old-religious music they used only parallel fifths, fourths and octaves. Maybe it "tells" me I need to use it...
But you are totally right, that I used the open fifths for too short time (2 beats with bmp circa 146). So I listened your version, and I think it suits the piece better then the original.
To finish with, I'd be truly glad if you could show or tell me your list of suggestions. I am truly interested in that, and of course, my sheets are not under copyright. So if you would like, you are free to modify the originals and send it to me to show better voice leading and harmonies!
Thank you again for your comment, and I'm waiting for your reply.
Best wishes!

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