A different Ave Maria, for SAB or SB a cappella
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,107
    Somewhat motivated by a comment by Francis Koerber about not having the voices to sing my SATB Ave Maria, I've just finished composing a completely different 3-part (SAB a cappella) Ave Maria, which may also be sung as a 2-part (SB a cappella) work by omitting the alto part. For nearly the entire work, the soprano and baritone parts are in canon.

    PDF scores for both versions are attached. I'll post links to synthesized MP3 recordings of the work in both versions, once they are published at CPDL.

    Chuck
    Thanked by 1tomboysuze
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,107
    As promised, here are the MP3 "recordings" of my new 2- and 3-part settings of Ave Maria, now that they have been published at CPDL

    Ave Maria à 2:
    Giffen-Ave Maria à 2


    Ave Maria à 3:
    Giffen-Ave Maria à 3

    Note how the soprano and bass are in canon:

    (1) at the octave, soprano first, baritone delayed by one measure in measures 1-10.
    (2) at the octave, baritone first, soprano delayed by one measure in measures 10-17.
    (3) at an a octave plus a perfect fourth, soprano first, baritone delayed by one measure in measures 18-24.
    (4) canon (imperfect) by inversion in measures 24-26, and with rôles swapped in measures 26-28.

    Of course, these are most clearly heard in the 2-part version.
  • tomboysuzetomboysuze
    Posts: 289
    Wow, CH. Both are really lovely. I would very much like to do this in either two part SA or in three part SSA. It's impressive how balanced the SB version is - which I find is often difficult to pull off with two voices that can sometimes be so strong individually that a blend is elusive. I especially like the Renaissance-ish cadence at the end. Nicely done. Would you consider scoring these for SA and SSA or SAA? I haven't looked at the score yet, but will do later today. Thank you very much for sharing this lovely piece.
    Deo gratias.
  • tomboysuzetomboysuze
    Posts: 289
    I can't wait to sing this will my girls schola. They will love beautiful arcs in the phrasing! More scored for SSA combinations, please?
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,107
    @tomboysuze:

    Here you go! I transposed it up a perfect fifth from the original SAB/SB versions. The top soprano goes up to high A, and the alto goes down to F. Many thanks for your kind appraisal.

    You hit on the difficulty of writing (and singing) two- and three-part music, namely balance and the willingness of the musicians to submit themselves to the work as a whole, giving their conscious individuality up to the integrity of the whole work. It's not that the individuality is lost, for indeed it isn't lost - but instead it's a matter of the whole becoming more than the sum of its individual parts. This applies, of course, just as well to four or more part singing/composing (which is why I am such an advocate of Renaissance polyphony).
    Thanked by 1tomboysuze
  • Heath
    Posts: 818
    Charles, I *love* the compositional idea: score a piece for 2 voices and add another that will work in case another good singer happens to wander into the choir room! Excellent idea!

    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • tomboysuzetomboysuze
    Posts: 289
    Oh! How kind you are, Charles. Thank you so much for your amazingly rapid work. I can't thank you enough, as my last 24 hours have been filled with difficult conversations and decisions on leaving our gig at the Monastery...(as you know) and which I've now done...
    This is a lovely balm.....many, many thanks.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • tomboysuzetomboysuze
    Posts: 289
    ps...I'm a big fan of Renaissance polyphony myself. It's my favorite thing to sing most days. And yes....if the voices aren't aware of the interplay and the trading off of the "dominant line" the structure, beauty and musical line and development is utterly lost.

    (at this point I must, again, bow deeply in the direction of Dr. Nestor at CUA for his constant sectional 'beatings' while singing Palestrina, Byrd...etc. He was relentless and may God richly bless him for it!)
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • RachelR
    Posts: 27
    What is the difficulty level of this piece? (I have no experience whatsoever in vocal music, but I now want to learn polyphony very much!) Is this a good beginning piece?
  • Heath
    Posts: 818
    Rachel, it's a lovely piece . . . but not easy, IMO. Charles has thrown in just enough accidentals to give amateurs fits!
  • tomboysuzetomboysuze
    Posts: 289
    agreed, Heath - I am going to read through it tonight or tomorrow night with my lead soprano - who is a freshman in H.S. - very smart. I'll let you know how it goes. We are looking forward to it, but the high A in the soprano line worries me....she won't be able to reach it.... but my very distracted soprano who cannot calm down in rehearsals will....I know, I asked for it. :)
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,107
    While it could be lowered a whole step to change that high A to a G, it would mean lowering the alto low F to an E-flat. If you have some really low altos, then that might work better (and I can post the required transposition).

    As for learning the piece, in the initial section where the top and bottom parts are in canon at the octave, they could be sung together while learning the melodic line before singing them as written.
  • tomboysuzetomboysuze
    Posts: 289
    Thanks, Charles. I was planning to do the melodic lines together as you say. And I was just going over the music to see what could be done about the A and decided that I'm going to teach it as it, because it's so beautiful. One of my girls can get a high C - so she can cover on that....I'll only change it if it's really not working. We shall see. Anyway, I'm excited to hear the texture you've written with these voices because they have a very clear pure sound with just a touch of vibrato on the ends of the phrases...so, it should be a nice fit. If all goes well, I'll send you a recording...(but that will take some weeks as three of my girls will miss rehearsal tomorrow night....and then there's Holy Week.)
    But we will start it this week.