Pick Six By:
Repertoire and Resources Chair for TTBB Choir
Men’s Song (Meestalaulud)
Walton Music WW1602
Also available: 3 single pieces from this full set are published separately (WW1603, WW1604, WW1605)
This compilation of 10 songs set by composer Veljo Tormis is sourced from a body of Estonian folk music passed on through generations. While the compositional style is minimalistic, they certainly are fun for singers to prepare and enjoyable for audiences to experience. Walton Music provides (on their website) an International Phonetic Alphabet Pronunciation guide to give directors the tools to teach the beautiful language. These pieces help young men connect to their breath to make an energized, full and resonant tone. Furthermore, they get them physically engaged with stomps, whistles, other sounds, and also are just right for storytelling! The purity of the vowels in the Estonian language also allow for choral directors to teach good use of vowel shape, which transfers beyond this repertory.
arr. Paul Basler
Colla Voce 36-20300
Also available: SSA & SAB
TT(B)B with keyboard accompaniment
Basler has penned a beautiful men’s choir setting of the folk tune, Shenandoah, with piano accompaniment appropriately set for late middle to early high school men’s choir. The voice leading in this arrangement leads singers to be able to easily sing in harmony. When the writing opens up into 3-parts, the arranger unfolds through primarily stepwise motion to lead the young male singer to experience the beauty of harmony.
TBB with piano accompaniment
Alex Shumacker has composed this high energy setting of the Psalm 98 text in Latin for 3-part men’s chorus. The dance of the 6/8 meter is enhanced by the continuous eighth note motion with a march-like marcato left hand in the piano. The piece allows many opportunities to teach the idea of the “Spring board” to experience forward momentum in pick-ups and internal rhythms. Furthermore, there are some moments for students to experience a sense of hemiola, but with the driving eighth note in the piano it is easily executed.
arr. J. David Moore
Fresh Ayre Music
Also available in SATB
For more advanced men’s choirs this is an exciting setting of a Celtic piece of mouth music where the voice became a replacement for the banned traditional instruments of the region. Choirs that are ready to explore different vocal colors will enjoy exploring a variety of sounds in the pallette. Furthermore, a choir cannot keep from getting their whole body engaged in a piece of this nature — for the spirit of the Celts doesn’t let them stand still!
In the Bleak Midwinter
Michael John Trotta
Colla Voce 48-96680
Also available in SATB and SSAA
TTBB with optional piano, oboe, and strings
Trotta has taken this powerful Christmas text and set a new melody and harmonic ideas. This piece will challenge your to sing toward the peak of each melodic. Many of the melodic ideas start on the top of voice setting up the conductor to teach the choristers to utilize their inhalation to prepare the space necessary for the onset. Also, it helps singers work on “top-down” singing.
Crossing the Bar
ECS Publishing EC.6373
Also available in SATB and SSAA
TTBB with keyboard accompaniment, Organ with Brass and Percussion, or Chamber Orchestra
This is the third song of a triptych from the male chorus setting of three Alfred Lord Tennyson poems. This setting expresses images of the sea musically and growth from “peaceful to ecstatic moods.” Technically the singers have long lines of extended repetition giving the conductor the opportunity to teach sustaining energy. In the repetition the singer may use the consonant articulation to experience forward musical momentum. Furthermore, the piece allows for a fullness of tone taken from the typical male chorus block chords that can thoughtfully be transferred into both the serene and the fast-paced sections. Finally, there are a great variety of emotional elements in this piece that the chorus has the opportunity to express.