Collected Chorales: 117 SATB Chorales in the old style, using the original melodies from the Bach 371
Since approximately 1990 I have been using the Bach chorales (the 371 four-part chorales, famous to every freshman theory student) as a warm up to my composing. I play a chorale at the keyboard while singing successively soprano, alto, tenor, and bass. This process helps me to make the transition to musical thinking. I have found that the singing is the crucial thing. It bypasses analytical processes, and opens something very deep in my imagination. At a certain point I began composing my own chorales in the old style, and have now written over 200 of them. This process of singing the Bach chorales, and writing and singing my own, has taken me to the roots of our western tonal musical language. It has profoundly influenced the way I write music.
Collected Chorale Settings: Winds, brass, percussion, strings
Instrument parts in all keys have been made for the collected chorales. The chorales can be played by any combination or number of instruments.
My intent was to provide musically engaging chorale material for the purpose of ensemble development. I have found over many years that ensembles blossom when each individual is completely engaged (strange idea!), and that the chorales provide each player with a beautifully formed melody within the four-part texture.
Dramatic improvements in tone, intonation, and ensemble awareness have been achieved through imaginative use of these chorales.
Program note by David Maslanka