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Meditation Through Choral Music

Researchers have found that while listening to music can help people become more mindful, singing actually increases mindfulness even more. Choir music is one of the most accessible ways for people to get involved with this kind of meditational exploration.

Adult mixed choirs consist of soprano, alto, tenor and bass voices, often abbreviated SATB. Men’s choruses can be TTBB or ATBB (with an upper part for boys and younger men). For more information, click the link https://www.themcp.org/ provided to proceed.

At Carnegie Hall, Choral Rumblings of Spring - The New York Times

Choral music is anything that features a group of singers singing together, whether or not the piece also uses instrumental accompaniment. This can range from a simple unison piece to a large orchestral work with chorus. However, the main criterion is that there must be multiple vocal lines that harmonize with one another. The number of voice parts may vary, but usually four distinct vocal ranges are specified: soprano, alto, tenor and bass, or SATB. This is often augmented by adding a baritone part, SATBATTBB. Some choirs are all mixed or only women, while others are arranged in two parts per gender, soprano/alto and tenor/bass, or even three parts SSAA or SSB.

Gender and age are two of the most common ways to categorize choirs, as these factors have traditionally had a great impact on both how a choir sounds and what music it performs. Mixed choirs are the most popular and dominant, with both men and women singing the same lines. Some church choirs, particularly those of the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches, perform whole liturgies (adjusted for the seasons), but many only sing anthems or motets at designated times in the service.

When arranging a choral composition, it is important to take into consideration the level of difficulty of each voice part. It is often difficult for amateur or semi-professional groups to maintain consistent, sustained pitches and rhythms for extended periods of time without losing concentration. This is exacerbated when the music requires complex, demanding melodic or harmonic passages with a wide range of tones.

A skilled conductor will always make sure that the dynamics of a piece are appropriate for its intended audience and occasion. Similarly, composers of choral music should keep in mind the fact that a fast tempo or loud dynamics will not necessarily sound “choral.” There is an intense beauty to a large group of voices playing quietly and with restraint, as the skill of a good choir can communicate emotion far beyond a simple decibel reading.

One of the greatest contributions to choral music in the twentieth century was made by British composer Ralph Vaughan Williams, who was particularly gifted at setting words to music. His early choral works, such as Toward the Unknown Region and A Sea Symphony, drew heavily on poetry by Walt Whitman and other 19th-century writers. He also explored new textures, including the use of phonemes divorced from word meaning.

Choral music has a long and rich history. During the medieval period, church choirs sang plainsong in unison, and large abbey and royal chapel choirs might number more than 50 trained voices. As musical composition grew more sophisticated, the use of multiple tones became common, and choirs began to consist of sopranos, altos, tenors and basses. Because women were not permitted to sing in the church, composers often used boys to perform treble lines.

As music composition developed further, it was possible for singers to carry a range of tones at the same time, giving rise to complex polyphonic music, and the need for well-trained vocal performers became more acute. The development of portamenti, which increased the duration of certain consonants, and the singing of descants — elaborations on a plainchant melody sung against a cantus firmus – further enhanced the vocal demands for a choral performance.

By the seventeenth century, there was a great demand for church music and concert hall choral performances, and the number of choirs increased to several hundred in some locations. In addition, there were a significant number of private, amateur choirs. The number of professional choirs rose, too, and the choirmaster profession was born.

In the classical period, although composers became preoccupied with instrumental and symphonic music, choral works were not forgotten. Beethoven, for instance, included a choral movement in his Symphony No. 2 in C Minor (1894), with a finale that celebrates love and life. And Joseph Haydn, influenced by the oratorios of Handel, created two major choral masterpieces of his own, The Seasons and The Creation, which tell the Judeo-Christian story of the Creation as told in scripture.

In the twentieth century, despite modernism running roughshod over many traditional forms, choral music flourished in the hands of many composers. Healey Willan, for example, composed several choral pieces when he came to Canada in 1913, including the Mass of Christ’s Nativity and A Coronation Mass. And even as purely instrumental music gained in popularity, composers like Francis Poulenc wrote masses and motets that spoke to the high regard for the choral ensemble that still existed in his time.

Generally, choirs are classified by their ensemble type. The traditional mixed chorus, consisting of soprano, alto, tenor, and bass voices is what many people think of when they hear the word “choral music”. Often, choirs are organized into groups that are defined by the kind of vocal range of each singer – soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, and baritone. The latter is sometimes abbreviated as SATB, and it is common for a choir to have two or more parts for each voice type.

There are also a wide variety of different styles of choral music. For example, a gospel choir sings Christian music that usually includes hymns and popular songs with religious content. Other groups sing more classical music, such as symphonies and concertos. Some choirs even perform operas or plays.

Choral music is often accompanied by instruments, but may also be unaccompanied. The oldest notated Western music, plainchant, was sung in unison by monks, and remained a primary focus for composers through the Renaissance and into the Baroque period. Composers such as Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, Johann Sebastian Bach, and George Frideric Handel wrote significant musical works for choral groups.

By the seventeenth century, a new style began to develop, involving more interaction between vocal and instrumental performers. Claudio Monteverdi developed his mass to include instrumental accompaniment, while Henry Purcell created a number of verse anthems. Choral music continued to expand during the Romantic period, with composers such as Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff writing choral-orchestral works.

In the twentieth century, choral music experienced further expansion and development. Ralph Vaughan Williams incorporated new harmonic languages into his choral works, while Arnold Schoenberg’s Friede auf Erden uses shifting tonal centres and polyphonic harmonies in a way that is similar to a symphony.

Most choral singers are part of a church choir, which sings songs and hymns appropriate to the beliefs of its members. Often, these are religious songs, but secular and non-religious choirs can be found as well. These can be based on folk music, contemporary Christian music (CCM), or other types of cappella singing. Most of these choirs learn by ear and from sheet music.

The audience for choral music can be quite diverse. While many choirs cater to a classical music audience, there are also some that perform world music or music in a more popular style. Chorus members may also perform in places that are far removed from the formality of a symphony concert hall, such as local drinking establishments or community events (provided they get the proper permission). This type of performance allows singers to be up close and personal with their audiences, which can make the experience more enjoyable for both parties. In addition, it provides an opportunity to interact with their audiences, which is a good way to build their brand.

One of the challenges in building a chorus audience is getting people to attend their concerts. According to the 2009 study “Audiences for Choral Performance”, a number of factors influence this, including social motivations such as being invited by friends or family. However, the study found that a more important factor was the artistic program offered at each performance. It is important to create artistic programs that reflect the interests and concerns of the chorus’s audience so that they will continue to attend future performances.

Another challenge is keeping the audience engaged throughout the performance. Some of the ways that choruses do this include offering pre-performance discussions, providing background information on composers and works performed, and incorporating multimedia presentations into their concerts.

Increasingly, choruses are adopting more contemporary performing styles as well, including cappella performances and using newer staging techniques. For example, many choirs no longer rely on music stands and instead allow their singers to hold their scores, which makes it easier for them to follow along with the conductor’s gestures.

Many choirs also experiment with eliminating text and presenting choral music as pure sound without the distraction of word meaning. This can be an intense listening experience for those who can focus on the piece’s musical elements and ignore the lyrics. In the case of some works, such as the purely musical sound of Bach’s vocal pieces, this is possible because the voices are not grouped into sections, and the singers’ voices can be heard separately from each other.