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So You Want to Sing Sacred Music. A Guide for Performers. 9781442256996

So You Want to Sing Sacred Music. A Guide for Performers

Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group. 2016

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Sacred music traditions vary profoundly from one religion to the next. Even within the Christian faith, one can hear a wide variety of music among and within different denominations. Catholics, mainline Protestants, and Evangelicals have all developed unique traditions. Many people are not exposed to multiple faith experiences in their upbringings, which can make exploring an unfamiliar sacred music style challenging. Because of this, singers and teachers regularly encounter religious singing styles to which they have not yet been exposed.

In So You Want to Sing Sacred Music, multiple contributors offer a broad overview of sacred singing in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Evan Kent, Anthony Ruff, Matthew Hoch, and Sharon L. Radionoff share their expertise on topics as diverse as Jewish cantorial music, Gregorian chant, post-Vatican II Catholic music, choral traditions, and contemporary Christian music. This plethora of styles represents the most common traditions encountered by amateur and emerging professional singers when exploring sacred performance opportunities. In each chapter, contributors consider liturgical origins, musical characteristics, training requirements, repertoire, and resources for each of these traditions. The writers?all professional singers and teachers with rich experience singing these styles?also discuss vocal technique as it relates to each style. Contributors also offer professional advice for singers seeking work within each tradition?s institutional settings, surveying the skills needed while offering practical advice for auditioning and performing successfully in the world of sacred music.

So You Want to Sing Sacred Music is a helpful resource for any singer looking to add sacred performance to their portfolio or seeking opportunities and employment where sacred music is practiced and performed. Additional chapters by Scott McCoy, Wendy LeBorgne, and Matthew Edwards address universal questions of voice science and pedagogy, vocal health, and audio enhancement technology.

The So You Want to Sing series is produced in partnership with the National Association of Teachers of Singing. Like all books in the series, So You Want to Sing Sacred Music features online supplemental material on the NATS website. Please visit www.nats.org to access style-specific exercises, audio and video files, and additional resources.


Introduction - Singing Sacred Music (Matthew Hoch)

Chapter 1 - Jewish Traditions (Evan Kent)
Liturgical Origins
Music in the Bible
Beyond Biblical Times
The Modern Cantor
Musical Characteristics
What Is Cantorial Music?
Three Categories of Music
Three Major Ethnic Groups
Training Requirements
The Basics of Cantorial Education
Admissions: General Information
Some First Steps
Seminaries Offering Cantorial Education
General Course of Study for Cantorial Education
Training Programs for Cantors: The Six Seminaries
Non-Cantorial Opportunities to Sing Jewish Music
Repertoire and Resources
Online Sound Archives
Jewish Music Publishers
Basic Repertoire Suggestions
Final Thoughts

Chapter 2 - Gregorian Chant and Polyphony (Anthony Ruff)
Liturgical Origins
Side Bar: Liturgical Timeline
Side Bar: Liturgical Calendar
Side Bar: Liturgical Terminology
Side Bar: Names of Offices
Chart: Structure of Mass
Musical Characteristics
Treatment of Text
Training Requirements and Execution
Vocal Technique
Tempo, Note-Lengthening, and Breathing
Men and Women Singing Together
Repertoire and Resources
Final Thoughts

Chapter 3 - Contemporary Catholic Directions (Anthony Ruff)
Liturgical Origins
From Trent to Vatican II
The Catholic Reformation and the Birth of the Baroque
Two Streams of Catholic Sacred Choral Music
A Catholic Ethos of Sacred Music?
Musical Characteristics and Repertoire
Navigating the Choral Repertoire
Musical Performance within the Liturgy
The Mass
The Requiem
Liturgy of the Hours
Sacred Choral Music alongside the Liturgy
High Mass, Low Mass, and Vernacular Hymnody
Sacred Music in Concert
The Second Vatican Council (1962-1965)
The Liturgy Constitution: Sacrosanctum Concilium
Chapter VI of the Liturgy Constitution
The Liturgy of the Second Vatican Council
Sing to the Lord: Basic Orientation
Sacred Music, Liturgical Music, or Pastoral Music?
Congregation versus Choir?
Schools of Thought in Catholic Liturgical Music
A Step into the Past: Summorum Pontificum and the ?
Extraordinary Form?
Performance Skills for Music in the Liturgy
Structures and Organizations
Final Thoughts

Chapter 4 - Sacred Choral Traditions (Matthew Hoch)
Liturgical Origins, Musical Characteristics, and Repertoire
Historical Overview
Protestant Choral Genres
Liturgical Considerations
The Organ
Training Requirements
Training to Be a Professional Chorister
Technical and Stylistic Differences between Choral and Solo Singing
Some Thoughts on Vibrato
Sight Reading and Musicianship
Diction and Language
Coping with Vocal Fatigue
Church Jobs: Securing Work as a Professional Chorister
Practical Skills - It?s Not Just about How Well You Sing!
Diversify Your Skill Set
Do I Have to Be Religious?
Summer Work - Where to Sing (and Make Money) When Choirs Aren?t in Session
Additional Resources
Listening to Church Music
Where to Experience Sacred Choral Music
Professional Organizations
Further Reading
Final Thoughts

Chapter 5 - Contemporary Christian Music (Sharon Radionoff)
Liturgical Origins
Historical Context
Group 1: 1940-1960
Inlay: Ralph Carmichael
Group 2: 1961-1989
Inlay: Bill Gaither
Group 3: 1990-present
Houseplant Churches
Mainstream Rock
Musical Characteristics
Training Requirements
Vocal Technique and Contemporary Christian Music
Repertoire and Resources
Final Thoughts

Chapter 6 - Singing and Voice Science (Scott McCoy)
Pulmonary System: The Power Source of Your Voice
Larynx: The Vibrator of Your Voice
Vocal Tract: Your Source of Resonance
Mouth, Lips, and Tongue: Your Articulators
Final Thoughts

Chapter 7- Vocal Health and the Singer of Sacred Music (Wendy LeBorgne)
General Physical Wellbeing
Considerations for Whole Body Wellness
Tea, Honey, and Gargle to Keep the Throat Healthy
Medications and the Voice
Reflux and the Voice
Physical Exercise
Mental Wellness
Vocal Wellness: Injury Prevention
Train like an Athlete for Vocal Longevity
Vocal Fitness Program
Speak Well, Sing Well
Avoid Environmental Irritants: Alcohol, Smoking, Drugs
Smart Practice Strategies for Skill Development and Voice Conservation
Specific Vocal Wellness Concerns for the Sacred Music Vocalist
Vocal Wellness Tips for Traditional Worship
Contemporary Christian Singers
Final Thoughts
Vocal Health: A Bibliography

Chapter 8 - Using Audio Enhancement Technology (Matthew Edwards)
The Fundamentals of Sound
Signal Chain
Equalization (EQ)
Digital Voice Processors
The Basics of Live Sound Systems
Microphone Technique
Final Thoughts


Matthew Hoch is associate professor of voice and coordinator of voice studies at Auburn University. He is the author of several books, including A Dictionary for the Modern Singer. He holds the BM from Ithaca College, MM from the Hartt School, and DMA from the New England Conservatory. Dr. Hoch is the 2016 winner of the Van L. Lawrence Fellowship, awarded jointly by the Voice Foundation and NATS. He actively performs art song, opera, chamber music, and in professional choral settings.

Evan Kent is an oleh chadash ("new immigrant") to Israel, having moved in the summer of 2013. Previously, he was the cantor at Temple Isaiah in Los Angeles for 25 years, also serving on the faculty of Hebrew Union College (the seminary for the Reform movement of Judaism) for 15 years. Dr. Kent?s publications have appeared in the Journal of Reform Judaism, Sh?ma Magazine, and Conservative Judaism. He also holds a doctorate in music education from Boston University. He is currently on the faculty of Hebrew Union College in Jerusalem, where he teaches classes in both contemporary and historic Jewish music. In addition to his musical and educational pursuits, Evan is an avid runner, having completed multiple marathons and ultra-marathons.

Sharon L. Radionoff is director of the Sound Singing Institute, as well as singing voice specialist/voice technologist at the Texas Voice Center in Houston. She is an active clinician, lecturer, researcher and author. She is the author of two books?The Vocal Instrument (Plural Publishing) and Faith and Voice (Inkwater Books)"as well as many articles and book chapters. Dr. Radionoff earned a BME from Eastern Michigan University, a MM from Southern Methodist University, and a Ph.D. from Michigan State University. She also completed a professional fellowship at the American Institute for Voice and Ear Research Center in Philadelphia under Dr. Robert T. Sataloff.

Fr. Anthony Ruff, OSB is a monk of St John?s Abbey and associate professor of theology at St John?s University/School of Theology and Seminary in Collegeville, Minnesota. He is the founding director of the National Catholic Youth Choir. He chaired the international committee that wrote the English chant for the 2011 Roman Missal. He has published several books and articles in his specialties of hymnody, Gregorian chant, liturgy, and liturgical music. He is moderator of the popular liturgy blog "Pray Tell."

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