I was at choir last week and the main work we are doing for our upcoming concert is Rautavaara's Vigilia. If you are unfamiliar, it is ridiculous, monumental, awesome, ethereal yet earthly, mindbendingly complex (yet the deeper I go the simpler a lot of it seems... but then again...), and it is the all around craziest work I have had to sing in to date! This work (choral-ly, I guess) puts Michael Jordan's first free-throw line dunk (athletically) to utter shame. This insane Finn composes in quarter beats and quarter tones (mind you only in places, but still I mean COME ON haha...)! This is kind of what I am getting at. I asked my voice teacher/ choir director why is the use of enharmonics important in the structure because it definitely does not help from a voice leading perspective in certain parts (that is enharmonics against each other, or in close succession, in both different lines and in one line). For instance at any given point you could have the altos singing a Bb to a C and the tenors singing an A# to a G#. Oh it hurts. Now my teacher said theres actually a difference in pitch between an A# and a Bb of a quarter tone because of the equal temperament system...I think. I really need to understand the concept of temperament better. Help? He would have to be rounding I would think, but really I mean a quarter tone in the middle of like an 11 part harmony in a capella choral music? ...not even mentioning that its pianissimo for half the choir and mezzo forte for a quarter of the choir with one section freaking whispering gibberish and a solo bass doing his best to blare brown notes (like low Bb's) over the top of everybody...all in Finnish!!! Ok I exaggerate a little but if you are familiar with the score you know what I'm talking about.
I love a lot of 20th century music but Jesus H Christ!