Unmercenary Sacred Music
Choir Practice Resources
October 05, 2003
Sloan, Emilie, Nick G, and Mike
Retreat: Options are being narrowed down to a couple places. Emilie is still working on it.
Next Week: Sloan will be in Michigan next weekend. So there will be no practice. Several other members of the choir will be missing also. A replacement for the choir director may or may not be present next Sunday. Good Luck. We will, of course, practice again in two weeks. Attendance today was abysmal; we will be repeating the planned practice at the next rehearsal. Attendance is an on-going problem at both practices and at the beginning of the liturgy. We did not have a full choir until the little entrance. Until we have a full assortment of monophonic chants, this means that four-part harmony settings are going to sound weird at best when sections are not complete.
Again, we are still working on the entrance antiphon and anaphora that we worked on two weeks ago. The entrance antiphon that was practiced two weeks ago still seems to be lacking in the bass and alto section.
In two weeks, we will begin looking at the tone eight prokeimenon and alleluia. In most parishes in the OCA, the prokeimenon is sung in the appointed tone, but the alleluia is sung in a fixed tone. We will begin to return to singing the alleluia according its appointed tone in order to learn the relationship of a particular tone to a particular Scripture text.
During the last few months we have been using a hymn to Theotokos based on a melody called Joy of the Heavenly Hosts.. It is a special melody used for festal stikhera in tone one. It consists of two repeating phrases and a special termination. In its most basic form it looks like this:
The difficulty in this piece appears at the end of each repetition of phrase one.
The temptation is to smooth out the dotted quarter and eighth note combinations to achieve something like the following.
A reason that this happens is because the sopranos are moving independently from everyone else. If either the sopranos or basses are not exact in their timing, the sound is muddy. The key is that the sopranos must do the dotted quarter and eighth notes correctly while the basses remains on their half note, that is, not moving too soon. The following is a somewhat silly, but effective, exercise to get the timing correct. I credit one of my seminary classmates for creating this, but to protect his name from unnecessary embarrassment, I will withhold his name. Try your section independently and then try singing it with the two parts combined.
Soprano and Bass:
This lesson was discussed, but it will be presented again in full in two weeks. We will look at the evolution of our eight-tone systems of chant, terminology, and uses.
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