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The works in the sacred vocal music section are all written for the Christian religion, some designed to be sung as part of a church service, others have been inspired by religion

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Introduction

Describe and analyse the pieces in the sacred vocal music section, showing how they reflect different ways or writing for church music. The works in the sacred vocal music section are all written for the Christian religion, some designed to be sung as part of a church service, others have been inspired by religion but are intended to be sung in a concert hall. The works are taken from a wide range of musical styles from Renaissance to Modern. The works I will be analysing are: "O Wilhelme, pastor bone" (Tavener), "In ecclesiis" (Gabrieli), Cantata No.48, movements 1-4 (Bach), "Quoniam tu solus" (Haydn), "Locus iste" (Bruckner), Symphony of psalms, movement 3 (Stravinsky) and "The lamb" (Tavener). Tavener's "O Wilhelme, pastor bone" is written for an all male choir, the top two parts sung by boy trebles. Tavener uses a syllabic setting of the text until the last phrase in which he uses a melisma in the upper parts. This is a renaissance piece so there are no dynamics marked. The piece has been constructed so that the 5 parts do not sing at once. This question and answer technique between the upper and lower parts is known as antiphony and can work well when performed in a church is the different parts of the choir are in different parts of the church to give an echo effect. ...read more.

Middle

Movement 1 has a ritornello which is repeated in the first 12 bars. The chorale melody is adapted by the trumpet and oboes which are playing in canon and around this the choir sings the text in a succession of entries, imitating each others parts. The main section ends with a hemiola, a device often found in triple time baroque music. The organist improvises on chords given in the figured bass. Movement 2 has a completely different feel, the text flows at a faster pace reflecting speech and it modulates quickly throughout a number of keys. Some techniques used here are detached melodic fragments which highlight dramatic expression, angular melodic lines, dissonance and modulation. Movement 3 is a chorale played by instruments as well as a four-part choir. Bach uses chromatic harmonisation here and the texture is mainly homophonic. Movement 4 is an aria accompanied by figured bass. He makes sure that the other solo instrument (the oboe) doesn't play whilst the singer is singing. Haydn's "Quoniam tu solus" is made up of a variety of vocal textures including imitation, fugues, Homophonic and antiphonal textures. The harmony is fairly simple, based around the tonic and dominant chords. Haydn uses short repetitive sequences and suspensions particularly in the top part. ...read more.

Conclusion

Stravinsky uses a variety or timbres and textures within the piece and avoids word painting to set the text on a deeper level. Stravinsky uses a wide range of dynamic contrasts and is very specific with them (e.g. bar 24). The movement ends with the return of the alleluia chorus one last time and finishes in the plain C major triad. The final piece is John Tavener's "the lamb". This piece is a sacred song written for four-part choir, the words set to an 18th century poem by William Blake making it suitable for performance in church services as the anthem. There is no time signature, however some bars have a 4/4 feel to them. The opening bar is monophonic using only 4 notes giving the expression on innocence. He uses this opening to construct the rest of the piece, inverting the melody in the soprano part. He also uses a retrograde of bar 3 in bar 4. Tavener uses slow free rhythms that avoid regular patterns, and essentially combines diatonic writing and modality with just one bar of melody. To conclude, all these sacred vocal pieces are very different and some would suit being performed in a concert hall more than a church. All the composers use various techniques to write for the church such as antiphony which is a very effective device when used in church. ...read more.

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