Turba Choruses: Best Practice (Advice Needed)
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 2,366
    Greetings friends—
    I'd like to draw on your "hive mind" as Bombarde16 puts it. We are singing Dr. Donelson's setting of the Passion of St. John on Good Friday, however my priest was interested in sprucing it up with some simple Turba Choruses. We've done this version of the Passion for the last 3 years, I believe, but have always sung it as written (largely because I always had to take the synagoga / turba parts solo down from the secondary ambo and couldn't corral the choir at the same time).

    My idea for this year (emulating what a friend is doing) is to set the choruses to a simple chord progression that can be sung à la anglican chant, and therefore be made to fit each section with relative ease and simplicity. This could also function without me flapping in the loft.

    My question is: should the turba choruses cover everything that pertains to the synagoga? In other words, should the turba sing for Pilate, even though he's but one man, and the maid who accuses Peter, or should the cantor who would have otherwise chanted that part still maintain it, and leave the turba for only when there is an actual crowd speaking?

    I suppose it could be done either way to satisfaction, but I'd like to honor any pre-existing standards or customs in this regard.
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 2,366
    Well, I guess my question has been answered by a priest: the turba should only cover those parts where it is a crowd. (This makes sense, and was my instinct, but as I have seen other versions where all parts are set, I wanted to double check.) Might as well leave this thread here for anyone else who yahoogles it in the future.
  • Serviam,

    You raise an interesting point.

    In the older form, when chanted, a single person has the Chronicler and a different single voice, a priest, sings Christ, and a third single person sings the Synagogue, which is everything else. This third part makes no distinction between Pilate and a crowd.

  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 2,366
    We are singing it the traditional way, in English, according to the proper tones; it was just the parts which needed distinguishing from within the synagoga that I was concerned about. As you said, it is considered a monolith, when chanted, so that necessitates making a decision on how to set it.
  • Would Bach's St. Matthew Passion be any help in this?
  • GerardH
    Posts: 354
    Turba choruses traditionally cover only the parts of a crowd; individual speakers are sung solo. See settings by Victoria and others at CPDL for examples and which texts to set.
  • Andrew_Malton
    Posts: 1,121
    Who expects this year to see a layman singing something other than the turba? Or has seen it in recent Holy Weeks? (I am asking in respect of the traditional rite, e.g. with the MR 1962.)

    It's not envisaged by the rubric, and it's not common, but I believe it is not unknown.
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 2,366
    Turba choruses traditionally cover only the parts of a crowd; individual speakers are sung solo. See settings by Victoria and others at CPDL for examples and which texts to set.
    This is in fact exactly what I ended up doing.
  • davido
    Posts: 754
    No, the Bach would be no help at all. It is not conceived as a liturgical passion, in fact it was done for an evening devotional service. At the Thomaskirche in Bach’s time, there was a morning service which resembled the Roman Good Friday liturgy, at which the Passion was probably chanted a la the Roman Liturgy.
    Thanked by 1ServiamScores
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,648
    Pace Chris, but in the gregorian chant single speakers are assigned to the synagoga tone and one presumes to the same singer. A common approach is for turbae only to be set to polyphony, and Byrd seems to envision the same three soloists to take the crowd role. Occasionally the different crowds can be characterized by subsets of the choir: Schütz has low clef AATB for the council of elders and two voices for the witnesses, for example; Guerrero even has his 'false' witnesses in parallel fifths.

    There are numerous alternate traditions, though: the vox Christi is set polyphonicaly in all Viadana's passions, and Iberian settings seem to invariably employ chorus at the Evangelist's description of Peter's tears.