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I'd love to hear any thoughts you have about this piece, particularly about the clarity of the piano reduction.  Ideally this would be performed a cappella, but it's nice to have a piano reduction for rehearsal or in case the singers need some support. 

There is some part crossing between the sopranos and altos.  It doesn't go out of range for anyone and I liked the way the lines flowed for each part better this way.  

Any enharmonics you would mark differently?  

Psalm 133: 1 Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!

Thanks for taking the time to listen!  

Here's a youtube demo video with the score rolling by:  

 

Edited by pateceramics
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I actually do remember listening to this one a couple weeks ago. I love that it starts in D-flat (one of my favorite keys). I also love all the moving parts. I'm not sure if there is a greater sound on earth than the mixing of human voices together in song! However, it doesn't seem too difficult; I'll bet there are church choirs who could easily tackle this, so I hope you get to have it performed!

Musically, one issue I see is the occasional doubling of the soprano and alto. Try to keep them from ever landing on the same notes. Also, you might consider putting in some breath marks for the singers. Singers can typically figure out their own, but it helps to have the composer do it so everyone on the part breathes at the same time.

Aside from that, great job! Is this supposed to be performed a cappella? I love a good a cappella piece!

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You seem to lean in on dissonances in this one, part of your style, I've noticed, but this one especially. Parallel sevenths and what I'm guessing are intentional dissonant resolutions are found throughout. My only complaint with this comes when it's done with too much oblique motion or P8's, like mm. 16-17 in the upper voices. I don't know if it was intentional for spots like that to be "text painting" on "dwell", but they never seem very helpful in thematic establishment; rather, it seems like a gesture that kind of has an opposite function.
Interesting work, overall.

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Mainly, I was playing with the idea of "unity" in this piece.  The men fall away and we have the altos and sopranos paired, but where we might expect them to travel together in thirds, instead the altos stick to a Bb and the sopranos cross their line, like two ships passing in the night.  The tenors and basses trumpet out their "beholds" together at measure 22, the sopranos echo them, but then everyone interrupts each other for a while.  We never get to the homophony and the tidy chords until the very end, by which point, hopefully such unity does sound very good and very pleasant indeed.  I toyed with the idea of having everyone end on a unison note, but decided that was too risky to tune, and a bit of overkill.  What really worries me is the little tenor bit at measure 42.  I can just hear people punching the "er" of together.  It sits high and it's on beat one.  The temptation is real.  But there are only so many ways to divide up the text and I really liked the musical line.  

Yes, I would hope this could be done a cappella.  I would hate to ask anyone to play that piano reduction for anything other than to help with parts in rehearsal.  It's not very "piano-y."  But sometimes there isn't enough rehearsal time or you can't hear the tenors over the huge soprano section and directors get desperate.  

That's a good thought about marking some breaths.  I usually do that if there is somewhere that one is really going to be necessary, but for this piece I just left it for the conductor to adjust if necessary.  A lot will depend on how fast someone actually decides to take it in concert, so I thought it would be better to leave it open-ended.  Stagger breathing is always an option for larger groups.  

Thank you both for your thoughts!

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Really nice, Maggie. Your aesthetic choices are solid and there's a good arc to it as well. A good psalm for communion.

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23 minutes ago, Ken320 said:

Really nice, Maggie. Your aesthetic choices are solid and there's a good arc to it as well. A good psalm for communion.

 

Thanks, Ken!  I was thinking it might work well for a choral benediction, since it's on the short side.  

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19 minutes ago, pateceramics said:

Thanks, Ken!  I was thinking it might work well for a choral benediction, since it's on the short side.  

 

It would. It's mono thematic. I think of Stravinsky's Symphony Of Psalms in contrast where he simply wrote Hallelujah for the choir to sing. But maybe that was more for musical punctuation.

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Thanks, Ken.  I wasn't familiar with the Symphony of Psalms, so I just went and gave it a listen.  Boy!  That's very Stravinsky-ish!  Thanks for introducing me to that!

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