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Improvised choral piece


Alex Weidmann

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Hi everyone!

Improvised this piece recently on my Technics keyboard via Reaper.

Not sure if it's garbage; or worth developing?

At first I was using Micah's Choir from Spitfire (Warp Laments setting); but then switched to a different choral sound.

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On 11/5/2022 at 10:17 PM, Alex Weidmann said:

Not sure if it's garbage; or worth developing?

How come it's garbage? There's no garbage which is attractive! Nothing isn't worth developing! Even that quite common Diabelli theme can be developed to a gigantic Diabelli Variation, so why not?

I love the dark and mysterious half diminshed and dissonant chord at the beginning. Then it becomes bright major key at 0:32. At round 1"32 there's more thematic material and I like it. I love the A minor ending!

Throughout I feel like people suffering and hoping in the world, and I love the feeling! That's definitely worth developing!

Henry

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Many thanks Henry for your thoughtful review.

This was my first attempt at a purely choral work: so I wasn't sure anyone would like it.

Sounds like you do: so that's cool!

This is the score as it stands now. It's a bit of a mess because it was improvised.

Probably should arrange it for SATB next.

The phrases don't line up well with the barlines; but if I correct that, the piece might lose some of its character maybe?

I'm ashamed to say I haven't heard of Diabelli. Probably because I don't listen to much opera.

I wonder which of his works does my piece sound like?

Perhaps I should try adding words to the score; but retrofitting lyrics to the music might be quite hard!

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8 minutes ago, Alex Weidmann said:

This is the score as it stands now. It's a bit of a mess because it was improvised.

It's quite a mess thoughūüėÖ¬†But since it's just an improvisation I really don't care about it, and the sound is good!

8 minutes ago, Alex Weidmann said:

I'm ashamed to say I haven't heard of Diabelli. Probably because I don't listen to much opera.

I wonder which of his works does my piece sound like?

Actually I am just using Beethoven's Diabelli Variation, op.120 as an exmaple. Diabelli wrote a quite ordinary but potential theme to invite all famous composers that time to write variations on it, including Beethoven, Schubert, Czerny and young Liszt. Every composer wrioe one variation on it except Beethoven, who wrote 33 amazing variations on it. Here is my favourite recording by Anderszewski:

 

Schubert's and Liszt's are also great and typical of their style. You can find the 50 variations by other composers here:

Hope you enjoy!!

Henry

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Posted (edited)

Made a SATB score for this now, and it's looking much better.

Still have to tidy the offbeats, and enharmonic spelling errors made by MuseScore.

Looks like there are too many tied notes as well?

Think the choir might be suffocating during the performance through lack of oxygen!

Edited by Alex Weidmann
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I'm no vocalist myself so I'm afraid to comment badly on the voices, but I do think the choir might suffocate singing the long notes !¬†ūüėĪ¬†I think a one beat rest will be enough for them to breathe, so maybe just add one before changing a note will be fine, and that does not affect the music much!

Henry

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A great first foray into writing for choir!  A couple of thoughts if you want to develop this further:

1.  Your soprano part goes too high.  You really only want to write notes that high if you are composing a commission for a particular super-soprano soloist who you know can hit those notes and do it gracefully.  For the average choir, writing to around a G above the staff for sopranos is about right.  If you add a second soprano line in that section, so the lower-voiced sops have something lower to sing, you can stretch the upper part a little.  (But not this much!)  Another option is to add an accompanying instrumental part and give those upper notes to the player.  You could write a piano accompaniment, or add a solo instrument like violin or flute.  

2.  Find a text!  Choral singing is about poetry and the beauty of what is being said, as well as the beauty of how it is said.  The only time you hear a choral sound without a real text is movie soundtracks.  (It's fine if that's what you want to do, too, but then you'll want to specify if people are singing "ooh" or "aah" or some other filler syllable).  Part of the challenge of writing for choir is fitting the notes to the text or the text to the notes well, so if you are working on writing for choir, think about working on that skill as well.  

3. ¬†Finding your text will help you figure out how to split those long notes up with logical places to breathe. ¬†You may want to make a whole note into two half notes on repeated pitches, with each note belonging to a different syllable of text, or remove a tie and do the same thing. ¬†Try singing your way through and feel where you want to breathe. ¬†Your intuition will probably be pretty good. ūüôā¬†

This has a lovely ethereal sound.  Try listening to some choral works to get ideas about how to use text and build sound.  Here's one I like a lot that has a similar slow cathedral sound, but with funkier harmonies and more parts.  The text translates to " O Master of all living, bestowing priceless gifts upon us."   

 

Edited by pateceramics
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Posted (edited)

Thanks so much for listening, and the super helpful analysis!

Perhaps the best solution for the problematic soprano passages is to transpose them down an octave, and give them to the altos?

I did have concerns about the top notes, and researched how high sopranos can go. I discovered C2 is just about possible; but it's at the upper limits of the falsetto range. Take your point that it's not suitable for a regular choir.

I'm guessing choral composers would normally find a text first, then write music to fit the words. Doing it the other way round is going to be harder; but I'll see if I can come up with something.

 

Edited by Alex Weidmann
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