Many people associate with The Wizard of Oz, college basketball, and vast fields of corn and wheat. But the state is also home to a burgeoning choral research and practice field. For more information, click the Traditional Choral Music to proceed.
Choral music grew in complexity as the Renaissance merged with the Baroque period. The increased interaction between vocalists and instrumentalists can be seen in the works of composers like Monteverdi (watch this period ensemble perform him here). The Classical style of choral music was lighter in texture than that of the Baroque.
Lutheran composers developed the art of writing for a congregation that was both spiritually and musically uplifting. They used the close bond between music and theology to create works that transcended their everyday uses, aiming at posterity. As a result, many of these pieces have been preserved for centuries and can still be used to educate today’s believers.
Martin Luther understood that a church’s hymns were not only intended to praise God but also to teach the faith. In addition to his translations of Scripture and the catechisms, he wrote chorales that sought to do just this. He encouraged congregational participation by encouraging unison singing, syllabic text settings (meaning that words are not stretched over several different notes), and by arranging the stanzas in strophic form. He also favored heavy theological themes that parishioners could understand and learn from. This style of music, which was not only intended to complement the liturgy but also to preach, helped make the Bible more accessible to ordinary people.
The early 18th century saw the introduction of the cantata format into Lutheran services, which combined the traditional recitative and aria formats with hymn-based movements. Composers like Bach expanded this genre, creating a form called the ‘chorale cantata’ with inner movements that paraphrased the text of the corresponding hymn.
As the size of Lutheran churches increased, so did the popularity of choral music. This led to the emergence of a rich tradition in Germany with composers such as Heinrich Schutz, Dietrich Buxtehude, and Johann Sebastian Bach contributing to it. These composers and others who contributed to the development of Lutheran baroque music were well-versed in the language and idioms of secular music, too. They made no attempt to conceal the origin of their compositions.
The Renaissance was an era of significant artistic achievement, especially in music. During this time, many composers produced notated secular and religious musical works in a variety of genres, including masses, motets, madrigals, accompanied songs, instrumental dances and more. Many of these works featured interweaving melodic lines, a style known as polyphony, which is the hallmark of Renaissance choral music.
During this period, the teaching of musical theory spread rapidly and singers became more skilled than at any previous time. As a result, church and cathedral choirs vied with each other to out-perform one another in their opulence and perfection. In addition, wealthy abbeys, collegiate and parish churches, and royal chapels supported the work of professional composers.
One of the most important Renaissance composers was Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, whose music is still considered the pinnacle of High Renaissance choral composition. The clarity of his vocal lines and the beauty of their form set him apart from his contemporaries. He also avoided the “worldly excesses” of previous generations of composers, creating a style that was pure and refined.
Other notable Renaissance composers included Thomas Tallis and William Byrd. Tallis began his career as a chorister, and he was later appointed to the Royal Chapel where he composed for numerous monarchs. He is known for his mastery of a wide range of styles and for incorporating both Latin and English texts in his compositions.
Byrd’s devotion to Catholicism prevented him from producing as much sacred choral music as he could have, but he was influential in establishing the Anglican church’s repertoire of anthems. He also contributed to the development of the mass form. In addition, his use of English allowed him to reach a wider audience with his musical output.
The Renaissance era gave way to the Baroque period. This transitional period introduced new concepts for melody and harmony. It also introduced new forms such as the oratorio, opera, and suite. During this period, composers like Claudio Monteverdi, Heinrich Schutz, and Henry Purcell developed new choral compositions. Monteverdi’s work embodied the transition from Renaissance to Baroque style. His early madrigals exhibited the Renaissance ideal of multiple independent vocal lines. His later works began to move toward the Baroque concept of soprano-bass polarity and included a greater use of figured bass. The Magnificat, a musical setting of the hymn of the Blessed Virgin found in the Gospel of Luke, is one such example.
The tradition of requiring the performer to participate fully in decisions regarding tempo, articulation, ornamentation, and other matters continued into the Baroque era. The keyboard player presented with a figured bass line was expected to “realize” it by filling in chords and adding ornamentation and elaboration to the original composition. Singers, particularly soloists, were expected to improvise ornamentation and elaboration on a melody they heard in a Baroque piece.
A distinguishing feature of Baroque music is its rhythm. It features a faster tempo than the Renaissance music, with dotted rhythms and sharp contrasts between sections of a composition. Terraced dynamics, where the intensity of a performance gradually increases or decreases, are another characteristic of Baroque music.
One of the most important Baroque composers was George Frideric Handel, who lived from 1685 to 1759. Handel’s choral output included twenty-one oratorios, three Te Deums, and fourteen anthems. He is best known for his Messiah, a musical narrative of the life of Christ. Handel was also a skilled organist, and he composed a large number of instrumental pieces.
Choral music has a huge range of styles, from simple four-part homophony to complex micropolyphony. This range of styles has led to a large body of classical choral music, which continues to influence new compositions to this day.
While most modern composers are concerned with instrumental and symphonic music, the tradition of choral music has continued to develop and flourish. Many of the classic composers, such as Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven, wrote pieces ranging from hymns to large orchestral works, but they all kept traditional choral forms at their heart.
The a cappella choir is the most common type of choral group. This type of group typically consists of singers who are able to perform in unison and includes soprano, alto, tenor, and bass voices. Unlike many modern musical genres, where singers often sing with backing tracks or pitch pipes, these groups are self-contained, and do not rely on any external accompaniment.
During the Classical period, composers became preoccupied with instrumental and symphonic music, but choral music was never far from their minds. Haydn, inspired by Handel oratorios, created two major choral works himself, the Seasons and The Creation, both of which are still performed at amateur and professional levels throughout the world.
Many people wonder whether or not a modern choral group can be as effective as one from a bygone era. In the past, choral education placed a huge emphasis on technique, with the goal being to produce the most perfect possible performance. This often resulted in a lack of emotion or a cold, uninspired sound.
Fortunately, modern choral groups have found that a balance can be struck between technical perfection and musical meaning. This has led to an increase in the number of contemporary musical pieces that incorporate a choral component. The work of composers like Karl Jenkins, Nico Muhly, Augusta Read Thomas, Sofia Gubaidulina, and James MacMillan have helped to push the boundaries of what can be done with traditional choral music.
In the early days of choral music, choirs were restricted to unison singing of plainchant and solo performances of the simplest polyphony. It was not until the late 17th century that Lutheran composers like Georg Philipp Telemann and Dietrich Buxtehude began to write instrumentally accompanied choral works. While this form of music carries less ecclesiastical authority than an a capella cantata, it was still an important addition to the choral repertoire.
The twentieth century was a time of experimentation for many composers. They wanted to push the boundaries of musical language, which sometimes meant bending or even breaking long-standing musical rules. This resulted in a variety of different compositional styles, often grouped together with fancy terms such as modernism and impressionism.
It is also worth noting that there are a number of contemporary composers working in traditional choral music. They are using new compositional techniques to evoke an emotional response in their audiences, and experimenting with how voices can be used to create unique sounds. Their work reflects the urgency of our times, and it is a worthy addition to the choral repertoire.
The vast majority of classical singers in the United States are trained for careers as professional solo performers on the opera and concert stage. This does not mean that they are not able to perform in a choral group, but it is not realistic to expect them to behave as if they were choral specialists. The best way to become a well-rounded musician is to get involved in as many musical genres as possible. It is also important to stay curious and never stop asking questions. Relying on simplistic stereotypes and thread-worn narratives stifles learning and artistic potential.