A brief about Poetry in Choral Music

Published on May 13, 2024

Let me acquaint you with a new type of music. It’s called Poetry in Choral Music. Poetry in choral music refers to the use of poetry set to music for choral groups to perform.

It’s good to know that choral music that utilizes poetry provides an opportunity to marry lyrical artistry with musical composition. Whether it is setting existing poems or newly written texts to music, both allows composers to elevate the language and create an artistic interpretation through their melodies, harmonies, dynamics, and other musical elements.

It has been clearly seen that great choral composers often select poems with vivid imagery, emotional resonance, and flowing rhythms that lend themselves well to musical settings.

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The music can accentuate the language, with swells and accents aligning with the cadence of the poetry. Choral arrangements of poetry also allow groups of singers to give voice to the words. In this way, they are able to add layers of harmony and choral textures. Notably, this provides a unique way to experience the language.

Now, let’s take a quick look at the examples. Some classic examples of choral works utilizing poetry include Brahms’ Liebeslieder Waltzes which sets love poetry from Polydora to music, works by Benjamin Britten like the Ceremony of Carols which sets medieval poetry, and contemporary pieces like Eric Whitacre’s compositions with texts by poets like E.E. Cummings.

Lastly, try to understand that the poetry selected provides inspiration for the composers, while the music helps bring the words to life in a new, vivid way when performed by a chorus. Whether it is a few lines or a longer form, poetry has proven to be a fruitful source for choral music compositions through the ages.

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