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Conductor's Preparation of an Anthem - by Hal H. Hopson

1.                  Type out words and attach to octavo.


2.                  If the composition is based on a cantus firmus, learn the tune by heart.


3.                  Determine at what tempo the piece is to be sung and indicate the metronome marking and use this tempo in preparing the piece.


4.                  What period does the harmonic style indicate?


5.                  With older music, determine the performing media for which the work was originally written and the original instrumentation.


6.                  Research the author, composer, and this specific text and music.  What connection does the music and text have to the life and thought of the people of the time it was written?


7.                  Determine the sections of the work and label them A, B, etc.  Indicate end of sections with a bold vertical line.


8.                  What compositional devises has the composer used to reinforce the text?


9.                  What is the most important element of music in the piece?  How can this be most easily taught and reflected in the final performance of the work?


10.              Underlie all dynamic markings – ppp to mp in blue; mf-fff in orange -- the softer the dynamic marking, the smaller the marking; the louder the dynamic marking, the larger the marking.  Underline crescendi in orange, decrescendi in blue.  Highlight all other markings with yellow underlines.


11.              At page turns, put alert marks at the bottom of the page for any important entrances at the top of the next page.


12.              Read through the text several times aloud with great care for inflection, resonance and meaning.


13.              Determine if there are instances of word painting.  If so, how can they be highlighted?


14.              Where and how does the music peak in intensity and dynamics?


15.              Mark contrapuntal entrances of all parts.


16.              Mark cross voicing.


17.              Redefine measures in modern editions of older works, particularly from the Renaissance period.


18.              If the text is in a foreign language, speak it through many times so that it is very familiar.  Syllables and words in question should be indicated with phonetic spellings.


19.              If the text is a translation and the inflection has been changed so unimportant syllables are stressed, change the text to prevent this.


20.              Analyze any technical speech problems – r, c, ch, s, sh, st, z -- consonants that might be too soft; adjacent consonants.


21.              Write out phonetic spelling of syllables that will be a potential problem.


22.              Indicate any change of meters.


23.              Indicate hemiolos.


24.              Mark ritardandi with


25.              Sing through each part.


26.              Can any sequence be found?


27.              Does the melody have long or short phrases?  Indicate breath marks where necessary, particularly where phrase endings are followed in some parts by a rest.  Determine the structure of each phrase.


28.              Circle intervals that will cause problems—awkward skips, non-harmonic tones, descending diatonic passages, notes with accidentals, chromatic passages.


29.              Sing through each part without accompaniment.


30.              Mark passages in unusually low ranges in order to achieve a good balance.


31.              What tone color, texture and articulation does each section require?


32.              Work out a total conducting technique taking into consideration entrances, releases, dynamics, pre-beat vowels and consonants, divided beats, cues for accompaniment.


33.              Mark with blue pencil all markings the choir will indicate in their own copies.


Church Music

Church Music