A choir is a musical ensemble of singers. Choral music, in turn, is the music specifically for such an ensemble to perform. Choirs may perform music from the classical repertoire, which spans from the Medieval era to the present. Most choirs are led by a conductor, who leads the performances with arm, a body of singers who perform together as a group is called a choir or chorus. The former term is often applied to groups affiliated with a church and the second to groups that perform in theatres or concert halls. Choirs may sing without instrumental accompaniment, with the accompaniment of a piano or pipe organ, with a small ensemble, choirs are often led by a conductor or choirmaster. Other than four, the most common number of parts are three, five and eight, choirs can sing with or without instrumental accompaniment. Singing without accompaniment is called a cappella singing, many choirs perform in one or many locations such as a church, opera house, or school hall. In some cases choirs join up to become one mass choir that performs for a special concert, in this case they provide a series of songs or musical works to celebrate and provide entertainment to others.
Conducting is the art of directing a musical performance, such as a concert, by way of visible gestures with the hands, face. The primary duties of the conductor or choirmaster are to unify performers, set the tempo, execute clear preparations and beats, and to listen critically and shape the sound of the ensemble. The conductor or choral director typically stands on a raised platform, many choral conductors use their hands to conduct. In the 2010s, most conductors do not play an instrument when conducting, although in earlier periods of music history. In Baroque music from the 1600s to the 1750s, conductors performing in the 2010s may lead an ensemble while playing a harpsichord or the violin, conducting while playing a piano may be done with musical theatre pit orchestras. Communication is typically non-verbal during a performance, however, in rehearsals, frequent interruptions allow the conductor to give verbal directions as to how the music should be sung. Conductors act as guides to the choirs they conduct and they choose the works to be performed and study their scores, to which they may make certain adjustments, work out their interpretation, and relay their vision to the singers.
Choral conductors may have to conduct instrumental ensembles such as if the choir is singing a piece for choir. They may attend to matters, such as scheduling rehearsals, planning a concert season, hearing auditions
Jules Émile Frédéric Massenet was a French composer of the Romantic era best known for his operas, of which he wrote more than thirty. The two most frequently staged are Manon and Werther and he composed oratorios, orchestral works, incidental music, piano pieces and other music. While still a schoolboy, Massenet was admitted to Frances principal music college, there he studied under Ambroise Thomas, whom he greatly admired. After winning the top musical prize, the Prix de Rome, in 1863, he composed prolifically in many genres. Massenet had a sense of the theatre and of what would succeed with the Parisian public. Despite some miscalculations, he produced a series of successes that made him the composer of opera in France in the late 19th. Like many prominent French composers of the period, Massenet became a professor at the Conservatoire and he taught composition there from 1878 until 1896, when he resigned after the death of the director, Ambroise Thomas. Among his students were Gustave Charpentier, Ernest Chausson, Reynaldo Hahn, by the time of his death, Massenet was regarded by many critics as old-fashioned and unadventurous although his two best-known operas remained popular in France and abroad.
After a few decades of neglect, his works began to be favourably reassessed during the mid-20th century, Massenet was born at Montaud, an outlying hamlet and now a part of the city of Saint-Étienne, in the Loire. He was the youngest of the four children of Alexis Massenet and his second wife Eléonore-Adelaïde née Royer de Marancour, Massenet senior was a prosperous ironmonger, his wife was a talented amateur musician who gave Jules his first piano lessons. By early 1848 the family had moved to Paris, where settled in a flat in Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Massenet was educated at the Lycée Saint-Louis and, from either 1851 or 1853 and his biographer Demar Irvine dates the audition and admission as January 1853. Both sources agree that Massenet continued his education at the lycée in tandem with his musical studies. At the Conservatoire Massenet studied solfège with Augustin Savard and the piano with François Laurent and he pursued his studies, with modest distinction, until the beginning of 1855, when family concerns disrupted his education.
Alexis Massenets health was poor, and on advice he moved from Paris to Chambéry in the south of France. On his return he lodged with relations in Montmartre and resumed his studies, the familys finances were no longer comfortable, and to support himself Massenet took private piano students and played as a percussionist in theatre orchestras. His work in the pit gave him a good working knowledge of the operas of Gounod and other composers, classic. He gained some work as a piano accompanist, in the course of which he met Wagner who, in 1861 Massenets music was published for the first time, the Grande Fantasie de Concert sur le Pardon de Ploërmel de Meyerbeer, a virtuoso piano work in nine sections
Other considerations are physical characteristics, speech level, scientific testing, and vocal register. A singers voice type is identified by a known as voice classification, by which the human voice is evaluated. The discipline of voice classification developed within European classical music and is not generally applicable to other forms of singing, voice classification is often used within opera to associate possible roles with potential voices. Voice classification is a tool for singers, venues, while useful, voice classification systems have been used too rigidly, i. e. a house assigning a singer to a specific type and only casting him or her in roles they consider belonging to this category. A singer will choose a repertoire that suits his or her instrument, many different voice types are used in vocal pedagogy in a variety of voice classification systems. Most of these types, are grouped into seven major categories that are, for the most part. Women are typically divided into three groups, mezzo-soprano, and alto, men are usually divided into four groups, tenor and bass.
Some women fall into the tenor or baritone groups, while men identified as countertenors can be grouped as contralto, mezzo-soprano, when considering the pre-pubescent voice, an eighth term, treble, is applied. Within each of these categories, subcategories identify specific vocal qualities such as coloratura facility. The vocal range of classical performance covers about five octaves, from a low G1 to a high G6, any individuals voice can perform over a range of one and a half to more than two octaves. Vocal ranges are grouped into overlapping types that each span two octaves. Many singers fall between groups and can perform some parts in either type, soprano range, The soprano is the highest singing voice. The typical soprano voice lies between C4 and C6, the low extreme for sopranos is roughly A3. Most soprano roles do not extend above C6 although there are several standard soprano roles that call for D6, at the highest extreme, some coloratura soprano roles may reach to F6. Soprano tessitura, The tessitura of the soprano voice lies higher than all the other voices except the sopranino, in particular, the coloratura soprano has the highest tessitura of all the soprano subtypes.
Soprano subtypes, As with all types, sopranos are often divided into different subcategories based on range, vocal color or timbre, the weight of voice. Sopranos are often broken down into five subcategories, coloratura soprano, lyric soprano, spinto soprano, two types of soprano especially dear to the French are the Dugazon and the Falcon, which are intermediate voice types between the soprano and the mezzo soprano. A Dugazon is a darker-colored soubrette, a Falcon a darker-colored soprano drammatico
A boy soprano is a young male singer with an unchanged voice in the soprano range. Usage of the boy soprano is more prevalent in North America. In the liturgical Anglican and English Catholic traditions, young choristers are normally referred to as trebles, rather than boy sopranos. The term treble derives from the Latin triplum, used in 13th and 14th century motets to indicate the third and highest range which was sung above the tenor part, another term for that range is superius. The term treble itself was first used in the 15th century, trebles have an average range of A3 to F5. The use of trebles in Christian liturgical music can be traced back to pre-Christian times, the earliest use is traced to a Choral Festival at Irving Hall, New York, in May 1866. Most trebles have a range from the A below middle C to the F one. This ability may be rare, but the Anglican church repertory. Some trebles, can extend their voices higher in the register to high C. The high C is considered the defining note of the voice type.
Many trebles are able to reach higher notes by use of the whistle register, as a boy approaches and begins to undergo puberty, the quality of his voice increasingly distinguishes itself from that typical of girls. Before and as the drops, a uniquely rich tone develops. This brief period of vocal range and unique color forms much of the ground for the use of the boy soprano in both liturgical and secular music in the Western world and elsewhere. Occasionally boys whose voices have changed can continue to sing in the range for a period of time. This stage ends as the boys larynx continues to grow and, with the breaking of his voice, the voice of the boy is subject to the effects of the dropping of the larynx, known as the breaking of the voice. The ultimate result of profound change is that a new set of vocal ranges become available, for example bass, tenor, countertenor. It has been observed that boy sopranos in earlier times were, on average, for a male to sing soprano with an unchanged voice in his mid-to-late teens is currently fairly uncommon.
In the developed world, puberty tends to begin at younger ages, early breaking of boys voices due to puberty becoming earlier in recent times, is causing a serious problem for choirmasters
Opera is an art form in which singers and musicians perform a dramatic work combining text and musical score, usually in a theatrical setting. In traditional opera, singers do two types of singing, recitative, a style and arias, a more melodic style. Opera incorporates many of the elements of theatre, such as acting, scenery. The performance is given in an opera house, accompanied by an orchestra or smaller musical ensemble. Opera is a key part of the Western classical music tradition, in the 18th century, Italian opera continued to dominate most of Europe, attracting foreign composers such as George Frideric Handel. Opera seria was the most prestigious form of Italian opera, until Christoph Willibald Gluck reacted against its artificiality with his operas in the 1760s. The first third of the 19th century saw the point of the bel canto style, with Gioachino Rossini, Gaetano Donizetti. It saw the advent of Grand Opera typified by the works of Auber and Meyerbeer, the mid-to-late 19th century was a golden age of opera and dominated by Richard Wagner in Germany and Giuseppe Verdi in Italy.
The popularity of opera continued through the era in Italy and contemporary French opera through to Giacomo Puccini. During the 19th century, parallel operatic traditions emerged in central and eastern Europe, the 20th century saw many experiments with modern styles, such as atonality and serialism and Minimalism. With the rise of recording technology, singers such as Enrico Caruso, since the invention of radio and television, operas were performed on these mediums. Beginning in 2006, a number of opera houses began to present live high-definition video transmissions of their performances in cinemas all over the world. In 2009, an opera company offered a download of a complete performance. The words of an opera are known as the libretto, some composers, notably Wagner, have written their own libretti, others have worked in close collaboration with their librettists, e. g. Mozart with Lorenzo Da Ponte. Vocal duets and other ensembles often occur, and choruses are used to comment on the action, in some forms of opera, such as singspiel, opéra comique and semi-opera, the recitative is mostly replaced by spoken dialogue.
Melodic or semi-melodic passages occurring in the midst of, or instead of, the terminology of the various kinds of operatic voices is described in detail below. Over the 18th century, arias were accompanied by the orchestra. Subsequent composers have tended to follow Wagners example, though some, the changing role of the orchestra in opera is described in more detail below
A melody, voice, or line, is a linear succession of musical tones that the listener perceives as a single entity. In its most literal sense, a melody is a combination of pitch and rhythm, while more figuratively and it may be considered the foreground to the background accompaniment. A line or part need not be a foreground melody, melodies often consist of one or more musical phrases or motifs, and are usually repeated throughout a composition in various forms. Melodies may be described by their melodic motion or the pitches or the intervals between pitches, pitch range and release, continuity and coherence, the true goal of music—its proper enterprise—is melody. All the parts of harmony have as their purpose only beautiful melody. Therefore, the question of which is the significant, melody or harmony, is futile. Beyond doubt, the means is subordinate to the end, given the many and varied elements and styles of melody many extant explanations confine us to specific stylistic models, and they are too exclusive.
Paul Narveson claimed in 1984 that more than three-quarters of melodic topics had not been explored thoroughly, melodies in the 20th century utilized a greater variety of pitch resources than ha been the custom in any other historical period of Western music. While the diatonic scale was used, the chromatic scale became widely employed. Composers allotted a structural role to the dimensions that previously had been almost exclusively reserved for pitch. Kliewer states, The essential elements of any melody are duration and quality, for example, Jazz musicians use the term lead or head to refer to the main melody, which is used as a starting point for improvisation. Rock music, melodic music, and other forms of popular music, indian classical music relies heavily on melody and rhythm, and not so much on harmony, as the music contains no chord changes. Balinese gamelan music often uses complicated variations and alterations of a melody played simultaneously. In western classical music, composers often introduce an initial melody, or theme, classical music often has several melodic layers, called polyphony, such as those in a fugue, a type of counterpoint.
Often, melodies are constructed from motifs or short melodic fragments, richard Wagner popularized the concept of a leitmotif, a motif or melody associated with a certain idea, person or place. Appropriation Hocket Parsons code, a notation used to identify a piece of music through melodic motion—the motion of the pitch up. Harvard Dictionary of Music, 2nd ed. p. 517–19, the Art of Melody, p. xix–xxx. A Textbook of Melody, A course in functional melodic analysis, a History Of Melody and Rockliff, London
In music, dynamics are instructions in musical notation to the performer about the loudness at which to play a note or phrase. More generally, dynamics may include aspects of the execution of a given piece. The two basic dynamic indications in music are, p or piano, meaning soft, more subtle degrees of loudness or softness are indicated by, mp, standing for mezzo-piano, meaning half soft. Mf, standing for mezzo-forte, meaning half loud, più p, standing for più piano and meaning softer. Più f, standing for più forte and meaning louder, use of up to three consecutive fs or ps is common, pp, standing for pianissimo and meaning very soft. Ff, standing for fortissimo and meaning very loud, standing for pianississimo and meaning very very soft. Fff, standing for fortississimo and meaning very loud. Some pieces contain dynamic designations with more than three consecutive fs or ps, in Holsts The Planets, ffff occurs twice in Mars and once in Uranus often punctuated by organ and fff occurs several times throughout the work.
It appears in Heitor Villa-Lobos Bachianas Brasileiras No,4, and in Liszts Fantasy and Fugue on the chorale Ad nos, ad salutarem undam. Igor Stravinsky used ffff at the end of the finale of the Firebird Suite, ffff is found in a prelude by Rachmaninoff, op. 3-2. Shostakovich even went as loud as fffff in his fourth symphony, gustav Mahler, in the third movement of his Seventh Symphony, gives the celli and basses a marking of fffff, along with a footnote directing pluck so hard that the strings hit the wood. On another extreme, Carl Nielsen, in the movement of his Symphony No. 5, marked a passage for woodwinds a diminuendo to ppppp, another more extreme dynamic is in György Ligetis Études No. 13, which has at one point a ffffff and progresses to a ffffffff, in the baritone passage Era la notte from his opera Otello, Verdi uses pppp. Steane and others suggest that such markings are in reality a strong reminder to less than subtle singers to at least sing softly rather than an instruction to the singer actually to attempt a pppp, dynamic indications of this kind are relative, not absolute.
Mp does not indicate a level of volume, it merely indicates that music in a passage so marked should be a little louder than p. Interpretations of dynamic levels are mostly to the performer, in the Barber Piano Nocturne. Another instance of performers discretion in this piece occurs when the hand is shown to crescendo to a f
A clef is a musical symbol used to indicate the pitch of written notes. Placed on one of the lines at the beginning of the stave, it indicates the name and this line serves as a reference point by which the names of the notes on any other line or space of the stave may be determined. Only one clef that references a note in a rather than on a line has ever been used. There are three types of clef used in music notation, F, C, and G. Each type of clef assigns a different reference note to the line on which it is placed, once one of these clefs has been placed on one of the lines of the stave, the other lines and spaces can be read in relation to it. The use of three different clefs makes it possible to music for all instruments and voices, even though they may have very different tessituras. The use of different clefs for various instruments and voices allows each part to be written comfortably on the stave with a minimum of ledger lines, to facilitate writing for different tessituras, any of the clefs may theoretically be placed on any of the lines of the stave.
The further down on the stave a clef is placed, the higher the tessitura it is for, the higher up the clef, since there are five lines on the stave, and three clefs, it might seem that there would be fifteen possible clefs. Six of these, are redundant clefs, each of these clefs has a different name based on the tessitura for which it is best suited. In modern music, only four clefs are used regularly, the treble clef, the bass clef, the alto clef, of these, the treble and bass clefs are by far the most common. Here follows a complete list of the clefs, along with a list of instruments, each clef is shown in its proper position on the stave, followed by its reference note. An obelisk after the name of a clef indicates that that clef is no longer in common use, where the G-clef is placed on the second line of the stave, it is called the treble clef. This is the most common used today, and the only G-clef still in use. For this reason, the terms G-clef and treble clef are often seen as synonymous, the treble clef was historically used to mark a treble, or pre-pubescent, voice part.
Treble clef is the upper stave of the grand stave used for harp and it is sometimes used, along with tenor clef, for the highest notes played by bass-clef instruments such as the cello, double bass and trombone. The viola sometimes uses treble clef for very high notes, treble clef is used for the soprano, mezzo-soprano, alto and tenor voices. The tenor voice sounds an octave lower, and is written using an octave clef or double-treble clef. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, a special clef was used for violin music, for this reason it is known as the French clef or French violin clef although it was more commonly used for flute music
A castrato is a type of classical male singing voice equivalent to that of a soprano, mezzo-soprano, or contralto. The voice is produced by castration of the singer before puberty, or it occurs in one who, due to an endocrinological condition, castration before puberty prevents a boys larynx from being transformed by the normal physiological events of puberty. As a result, the range of prepubescence is largely retained. Prepubescent castration for this purpose diminished greatly in the late 18th century and was illegal in Italy in 1870. As the castratos body grew, his lack of testosterone meant that his epiphyses did not harden in the normal manner, thus the limbs of the castrati often grew unusually long, as did the bones of their ribs. This, combined with training, gave them unrivalled lung-power. Operating through small, child-sized vocal cords, their voices were extraordinarily flexible and their vocal range was higher than that of the uncastrated adult male. Listening to the surviving recordings of a castrato, one can hear that the lower part of the voice sounds like a super-high tenor.
Eunuch is a general term, since historically many eunuchs were castrated after puberty. Castration as a means of subjugation, enslavement or other punishment has a long history. In a Western context, eunuch singers are known to have existed from the early Byzantine Empire, by the 9th century, eunuch singers were well-known and remained so until the sack of Constantinople by the Western forces of the Fourth Crusade in 1204. Their fate from until their reappearance in Italy more than three hundred years is not clear and it seems likely that the Spanish tradition of soprano falsettists may have hidden castrati. Much of Spain was under Muslim rulers during the Middle Ages, eunuchs served as harem guards, but they were valued as high-level political appointees since they could not start a dynasty which would threaten the ruler. Castrati first appeared in Italy in the century, though at first the terms describing them were not always clear. The phrase soprano maschio, which could mean falsettist, occurs in the Due Dialoghi della Musica of Luigi Dentice and this is a rare term but probably does equate to castrato.
The Cardinals brother, Alfonso II dEste, Duke of Ferrara, was another early enthusiast, enquiring about castrati in 1556. There were certainly castrati in the Sistine Chapel choir in 1558, although not described as such, on 27 April of that year, Hernando Bustamante, by 1574 there were castrati in the Ducal court chapel at Munich, where the Kapellmeister was the famous Orlando di Lasso. In 1589, by the bull Cum pro nostro pastorali munere, Pope Sixtus V re-organised the choir of St Peters, thus the castrati came to supplant both boys and falsettists from the top line in such choirs
Tenor is a type of classical male singing voice whose vocal range is one of the highest of the male voice types. The tenors vocal range lies between C3, the C one octave below middle C, and A4, the A above middle C, in solo work, this range extends up to C5, or tenor high C. The low extreme for tenors is roughly A♭2, at the highest extreme, some tenors can sing up to two Fs above middle C. The tenor voice type is divided into the leggero tenor, lyric tenor, spinto tenor, dramatic tenor, heldentenor. The name tenor derives from the Latin word tenere, which means to hold, in medieval and Renaissance polyphony between about 1250 and 1500, the tenor was the structurally fundamental voice, vocal or instrumental. All other voices were normally calculated in relation to the tenor, until the late 16th century introduction of the contratenor singers, the tenor was usually the highest voice, assuming the role of providing a foundation. It was in the 18th century that tenor came to signify the male voice that sang such parts, for earlier repertoire, a line marked tenor indicated the parts role, and not the required voice type.
Indeed, even as late as the century, partbooks labelled tenor might contain parts for a range of voice types. The vocal range of the tenor is one of the highest of the voice types. Within opera, the lowest note in the tenor repertoire is probably A♭2 in Rossinis rarely performed La donna del lago in the role of Rodrigo di Dhu. Within more frequently performed repertoire and Herod both call for an A2, a few tenor roles in the standard repertoire call for a tenor C. Some of the few top Cs in the operatic repertoire are either optional or interpolated by tradition. However, the highest demanded note in the standard operatic repertoire is D5. Some operatic roles for tenors require a darker timbre and fewer high notes, in the leggero repertoire, the highest note is F5, very few tenors can, given the raising of concert pitch since its composition, have this role in their repertoire without transposition. Within the tenor voice type category are seven generally recognized subcategories, leggero tenor, lyric tenor, spinto tenor, dramatic tenor, Mozart tenor, Also known as the tenore di grazia, the leggero tenor is essentially the male equivalent of a lyric coloratura.
This voice is light and capable of executing difficult passages of fioritura, the typical leggero tenor possesses a range spanning from approximately C3 to E♭5, with a few being able to sing up to F5 or higher in full voice. In some cases, the chest register of the leggero tenor may extend below C3, voices of this type are utilized frequently in the operas of Rossini, Bellini and in music dating from the Baroque period. Leggero tenor roles in operas, The lyric tenor is a warm voice with a bright, full timbre that is strong but not heavy
A chorale is a melody to which a hymn is sung by a congregation in a German Protestant Church service. The typical four-part setting of a chorale, in which the sopranos sing the melody along with three voices, is known as a chorale harmonization. Starting in 1523, Martin Luther began translating texts into German from the Latin. This created an immediate need for a repertoire of new chorales. He composed some chorales himself, such as A Mighty Fortress, for other chorales he adapted Gregorian chant melodies used in Roman Catholic worship to fit new German texts, sometimes using the same melody more than once. For example, he fitted the melody of the hymn Veni redemptor gentium to three different texts, Verleih uns Frieden gnädiglich, Erhalt uns, bei deinem Wort, and Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland. As early as 1524, Johann Walter published Eyn geystlich Gesangk Buchleyn, Johann Sebastian Bach harmonised hundreds of chorales, typically used at the end of his cantatas and concluding scenes in his Passions.
In his St Matthew Passion, he set five stanzas of O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden in four different ways and he used hymns as the base for his cycle of chorale cantatas and chorale preludes. Bach concentrated on the chorales especially in the Chorale cantatas of his second annual cycle, many of the Lutheran chorales are familiar as hymns used in Protestant churches, sometimes sung in four-voice harmony. Chorales appear in chorale preludes, pieces generally for organ designed to be played immediately before the singing of the hymn. A chorale prelude includes the melody of the chorale, and adds contrapuntal lines, one of the first composers to write chorale preludes was Samuel Scheidt. Bachs many chorale preludes are the examples of the form. Anton Bruckner make frequent use of the chorale as a device in Two Aequali, based on his understanding of musical settings of the liturgy. Chorale composition Hymn tune Carragan, marshall, Robert L. and Robin A. Leaver. The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie, anton Bruckner 1824–1896, Leven en werken.
The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, edited by Stanley Sadie, the New Harvard Dictionary of Music, third edition. The Harvard Dictionary of Music, fourth edition, Belknap Press, for Harvard University Press. Chorale discussion by Bernard Greenberg in the J. S. Matthew Passion
The word Coloratura is originally from Italian, literally meaning coloring, and derives from the Latin word colorare. It is now used to refer to passages of such music, operatic roles in which such music plays a prominent part. In these early texts the term is dealt with briefly and always with reference to Italian usage, the term coloratura is most commonly applied to the elaborate and florid figuration or ornamentation in classical and romantic vocal music. In the modern musicological sense the term is used to refer to florid music from all periods of music history. Despite its derivation from Latin colorare, the term coloratura does not apply to the practice of coloring the voice, the term is not restricted to describing any one range of voice. All female and male voice types may achieve mastery of coloratura technique, there are coloratura parts for all voice types in different musical genres. Nevertheless, the coloratura, when used without further qualification. A coloratura soprano has the ability to produce notes above high C.
Examples of coloratura music for different voice ranges include, Mozarts Allelujah may be arranged for and sung by a properly trained contralto, the piece was written for soprano castrato. The aria Every valley shall be exalted from Handels Messiah is an example of a piece for tenor. Each singer of a role in Rossinis operas must have a secure coloratura technique. Osmin, a character in Mozarts The Abduction from the Seraglio, is a role for a bass. A modern example is I am the wife of Mao Tse-tung, sung by the part of Jiang Qing in the John Adams opera Nixon in China. Glitter And Be Gay from Leonard Bernsteins comic operetta, Candide Agitata da due venti a coloratura mezzo-soprano aria, medieval coloration Apel, Willi, ed. Harvard Dictionary of Music, second edition. Cambridge, The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Don Michael, ed. Apel, Willi, ed. Cambridge, The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, the New Grove Dictionary of Opera