So, I have continued to work on the Ave Maria, and decided not to go overboard on the harmonizing. At least, not until I have finished the definitive melody, which I am keeping on the alto line. This is for three reasons. One, I am an alto, and this song is really for me (if I am being honest). Two, I have noticed in most of the songs we sing in my choir, the alto line pretty much just tap dances around the first line E. BORING! Third, I want to let the soprano and mezzosoprano (or soprano 1 and 2) to have a descant and just flit from note to note. Those high warblers like that kind of thing. And the men will be the main harmony to the melody, with the base trolling the bottom notes like a heavy anchor. That’s my thought anyway.
|You gotta love the bass singers… so close to Tibetan throat singers…|
I also decided to make this more a capella than before. As in completely a capella. Let’s see who has the brass handbells to sing this one, he he he. I want to create a picture of all the voices in the choir praying for help to the Virgin, so in the first stanza (the prayer is basically said twice) the alto has the main line, and the other voices pick words from the prayer around the alto. Above is an example of what I am doing. The men sing words like Ave Maria (meaning “hail Mary”) and gratia plena (meaning “full of grace”); the women sing Benedicta (meaning blessed) and orare pro me (meaning “pray for me”).
|Means “Pray for me,” something I can relate to.|
Yes, I wrote “orare pro me.” I put my own stamp on this sung prayer. Catholics pray the Ave Maria when they are in need, so I have put this statement into this song a couple of times to bring that home. Well, people who speak enough Latin will get it. I like to be different.
|I liken the bass singers to a bass guitarist. The line is boring but necessary.|
Notice how the bass line is planted on the bottom? That is how I plan to keep the notes from creeping to the sharp side. The bass line is easy and does not vary much. It is just very low. In my head, this all sounds very ethereal. But on MuseScore, it sounds very woodwindy. I think it works. I hope it works. Below this paragraph is an MP3 of this version of the song, titled “Ave Maria.” Please keep in mind when listening to it that it is NOT sung, but played by a computer. Feel free to comment, but keep it nice. It is a church song… I want church language. So, I have a finished ditty, and I think it is very nice. But it is for a choir. When I usually write music, it is for a soloist with accompaniment (or just a piano). So now I want to arrange this piece of music for a solo artist. This isn’t as hard as it sounds, if you want to keep pretty close to the original. Which I do. The melody is on the alto line, so that becomes the soloist line in my new arrangement.
|Altos Unite! Christmas is the perfect time to stick it to the sopranos!|
As for the rest of the choir… they get delegated to the piano. I made sure the notes are within stretchable reach of one hand on each staff. I have created pieces before where the pianist literally would have grow another set of hands – out of the front of her chest, not the sides – to play the music; because I wasn’t paying attention.
|Basically, add the piano staves, and pull every note from the other singers, rendering them mute… or moot.|
Right below this paragraph is an MP3 of this version of the song, called “Ave Maria -Solo.” Please keep in mind when listening to it that it is NOT sung, but played by a computer. Again, feel free to tell me what you think of it, good or bad. But mostly good (I have a fragile ego here). Finally, I didn’t want to throw away all the cool, dissonant piano bits I worked on last week, so I put them into an arrangement for solo piano. Without the six extra instruments (I mean voices) this sounded quite lovely. Again, the soloist is replaced by a flute, because the computer version of a solo alto is ridiculous.
|I always go a little nutty with piano solos, so this one will be out there.|
I like lovely, but I kind of like dissonant better. So I added some fun finger-work, took away most of the extra notes, and came up with a sort of classical, sort of undefined variation on the main song. I think this would be a bear to play in church. I wish I could get someone to play it for me on a real piano (hint… hint).
|By far the favorite passage in the solo for all who have listened to it.|
Before I finished, I dedicated the three songs. First to the person actually praying this song for me…
|Thank you Kim Himmler. Even though you are Catholic, you love this song as much as I do.|
The second to my own personal cheerleader and resident eclectic…
|Thank you, Brant. According to you, I have never made a bad song. That you are aware of.|
And the third to the newest little Catholic in my life…
|I hope this makes up for all the cheek-squishing I haven’t been doing lately.|
Not too far from here, below us, you will see the third MP3 for this piano work, titled “Ave Maria Piano.” Give it a listen. I would love to know what you think of my eclectic version of my own carol. And for those that play piano, I want to know if you think you can play it. I added the sheet music for all three songs below the MP3’s. Aren’t I sweet? I started out writing one Christmas song, and ended up technically making three. I definitely wrote the first one, then utilized my scrapbook skills to make the other two. Give them a listen, and tell me which one you like best. I am having trouble deciding.