The Moon's Amber (SATB + Piano)

A choral setting of a somewhat brooding lullaby; words by the late 19th-century scholar/Celtic poet/occultist William Sharp, writing under the pseudonym Fiona MacLeod.

Although it's the first piece I'm sharing here, this is relatively different from my usual style, as I was trying to make it accessible for a community choir. So far, I've only discussed it with singers (not composers), and would really like some feedback from this community!

Please don't judge the piece too much by the recording--it's just a demo I made for a choral director with 2 singers, a MIDI piano, and my lousy mixing skills. But it's better than MIDI all the way thru. :/



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  • Hi Nicholas
    Liked this piece.
    I thought the crescendos could be more but that might be just the sound file.
    Not sure about bar 38. Perhaps "white flame" in sop/alt then in ten/bass beats 3&4.
    I can see that you love these words, the music matches their haunting, other worldliness.
    The choir should love this.
  • Thanks for your feedback, Michael! I like your suggestion about "white flames"--I think the whole piece is a little rhythmically homogenous right now, and the syncopation of "flames" would help to break that up a bit.

    And yes, there would be much more dynamic contrast with a live performance--this recording is just a low-quality demo. Better than nothing, but it doesn't really capture the full expressive range.

  • Nicholas,

        This is a nice mood piece.  I especially liked the piano part.  The voices are a little weak on the recording.  I would like to hear  stronger vocal parts to give a better assessment of words and dynamics.  The parts seem not to difficult.  We're anxious to hear your usual style of composing.

  • Hi Nicholas, 

    First post here.  Gorgeous!  I've listened to it 4 times. I love the way the piece takes such a nice deep breath  when the soprano's enter with the "fragrant air" line.   Somehow the piece brings about in me a very similar vibe to Debussy's La Damoiselle Elue - which I haven't heard in years, but still....  maybe I'll drag it out and see for sure.

    What means do you use to record the vocals? 

  • I'm going to judge the piece by the recording...

    It held me rapturously from start to finish.  While I can't really comment on the music as such, there was a real reflective "otherworldly" feel.  If the  choir doesn't love this there is something seriously wrong with them!

    I think you're right that the recording quality here doesn't do it justice.  I'd be very interested to hear a live performance.  

    In short, I love it!

    Thanks for posting

  • Thanks for your feedback, folks! Glad you're enjoying it... hopefully the choir will, too.

    Dave, I just recorded the MIDI piano, then sang the voice parts a few times through with my girlfriend--2 or 3 runs through each part, so it sounded like a choir rather than a quartet. Unfortunately, since these were recorded casually at different times and didn't have a conductor to help ensure unity of dynamics, phrasing, etc, it's not very cohesive... not to mention there was some unintended variety in mic placement and recording levels between different takes.

  • Oh yeah,  Okay.  That must have been a "fun" and interesting process. Only in the last couple years have I recorded my own vocals.  It's pretty stressful, and I love singing.  Mic placement, multiple takes, and all that: ugh!  

    But yes, your piece is really beautiful. 

  • Special piece in many ways. Enjoyed the original harmonies.

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