Simple Choral Psalms
  • MichaelRaney
    Posts: 15
    Hello,

    I've been looking for short, simple choral settings of responsorial psalms for use in Canada. I haven't found exactly what I was looking for, so I've started writing some. My choir is capable of sight-reading at this level, as well as chanting together in parts (in an Anglican-esque way).

    I would be grateful for any criticism of how to do better. It has been over a decade and a half since my music theory and arranging classes. I have to date written about five psalms. My long-term hope is to write a whole set for Sundays and Solemnities in an anthology titled: "Simple Choral Psalms."

    Mike
  • MichaelRaney
    Posts: 15
    MP3 files
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  • Andrew_Malton
    Posts: 1,066
    Michael,
    Have you considered the settings in CBW III? Many, although not all, are really quite suitable for choral singing: and in my opinion musically better than the "new" settings from the Bishops.

    That said: I see you are using the old “Grail” Psalm texts and the older Responses. If that's acceptable to your priest, keep doing it -- it's the text in the CBW anyway -- but it's not the current Lectionary text.

    For example, for SS. Peter and Paul, in the 2009 Lectionary, we have R. The Lord set me free from all my fears. V. I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth, etc. etc.

    I think the Grail is more singable, myself, but the NRSV Lectionary text is strictly speaking required.


  • MichaelRaney
    Posts: 15
    We do normally use CBW III. I had to put a stop to using Glory & Praise when I started. It is true the text is now in a gray area, so likely I will update at some point.

    I started writing psalms when the setting in the CBW is just a bit too cringey.
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  • lmassery
    Posts: 350
    By choral, you mean SATB?
  • MichaelRaney
    Posts: 15
    Thanks for the link, that looks quite nice, I will certainly consider using that. This was more meant that I was looking for feedback on my compositions. What I was looking for was what I had written, in other words.
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 1,755
    Michael, a comment regarding engraving: don’t center the whole notes on a phrase of text. The notes should appear at the beginning of the measure with the text left aligned, otherwise you start reading the words but don’t know what notes your supposed to be singing.

    Psalm 34 you have parallel octaves between the bass and alto going from measures 3-4 which jumped out to my ear immediately. Also, at least for my group, which can also sight read this type of music, shifting from g# to g natural on subsequent chords (in the melody) might* lead to tuning issues. Generically I like the chord sequences though.
  • M. Jackson Osborn
    Posts: 8,212
    This is beautiful!
    It sounds better than it looks on paper - you have a lot of direct or parallel fifths and octaves.
    Still, it sounds quite nice and almost Anglican!
  • davido
    Posts: 631
    Mike, good start on these. Watch the voice leading, as Jackson points out.
    On the engraving side, I would put in a line break after each line of text. For a four segment melody (double Anglican chant), this will give you five systems on a page (including the response). Might take some adjusting of the template, but with the amount of white space you have on the page, it should fit.
    End result will be easier to read.
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 1,755
    Five lines would be too cluttered and not leave enough space between systems. Try 2 & 2 [phrases] if they fit, which is pretty standard for some common publications.
  • lmassery
    Posts: 350
    Oh Wups that’s the problem with checking this forum on my phone. No uploads are visible
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 1,755
    Hrm… they are on mine (iPhone)

    Perhaps it’s your mobile browser?
  • My (dumb) phone won't even let me check this forum.
  • MichaelRaney
    Posts: 15
    ServiamScores: Thank you very much for the feedback! point taken on the engraving, will adjust. Will also reconfigure to avoid parallels. Also point taken on the g# to g. Tuning is generally pretty good in my choir, but it definitely could be a stumbling block.

    M. Jackson Osborn: Thank you as well for the feedback! Definitely need to work on my part writing to avoid the parallels.

    davido: Thank you too! I certainly have a lot of work to do on the layout of the page.
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  • GambaGamba
    Posts: 458
    Please, could we have psalms actually pointed in the Anglican way? I have always found that whether it is Anglican or Gregorian chant, the time spent teaching people to read the pointing is really not that much, produces better singing, and saves so much labor later on. If I disagree with an editor’s pointing, it’s a few minutes’ work in MS Word to completely fix it, but if it’s written out like that it’s near-impossible to make any changes, swap in another chant, or deal with an uncommon psalm (say for a daily Mass or feast not a solemnity) without starting from scratch and spending hours in Sibelius.
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  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,529
    Kudos for writing 4-part Responds! The underlay of "The angel of the Lord" though is pretty obscure, and a g natural at the 4th phrase would be more than mere courtesy.

    To Gamba's point, I made two versions of Ps. 24 for All Souls, expecting visitors unaccustomed to pointing. Subsequent use with new singers at funerals bears out that the pointed version is indeed much faster to rehearse.
  • GerardH
    Posts: 285
    If you're typesetting in MuseScore there is a 3rd-party plugin you can install which checks for parallel 5ths and 8ves.

    Not sure if the same exists for other software
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,921
    that’s the problem with checking this forum on my phone. No uploads are visible

    Some phone browsers have a "desktop mode" that can help make the features of this site work better.
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 1,755
    ^^what chonak said. I cannot use the mobile version; I have to “request desktop site” to get everything to function properly.
  • Andrew_Malton
    Posts: 1,066
    Try creating a bookmark in your mobile browser with the URL https://forum.musicasacra.com/forum/profile/nomobile

    It should take you directly to the full site, even on a “mobile” device.
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  • achoyce91
    Posts: 136
    I have never seen such notation come out sounding so great like in the Psalm 34 mp3. And I literally am a foreigner to the notation. The Arch-Diocese of Galveston Houston is pretty much just the Gather Hymnal. Lots to learn!