Learning Log

Project 5: Amen

Exercise: IV – I Movement

The task for this exercise was to write a short cadence for a 4 – 6 voiced choir. I was asked to create IV – I chord progression with a melisma on the word “Amen”. As this is the first exercise of this unit I wanted to make a slow start and therefore only used 4 voices. I wasn’t quite sure how long the cadance should be, knowing that progressions like this are mostly used at the end of longer phrases for a choir. Nonetheless, I ended up with 7 bars, where I tried to mainly stick to the 4th chord (Bb – major in this case). I was also slightly hesitant about creating too many disharmonic chords, and placed the notes in the bass very carefully, trying to stay in Bb major.


I found this was a good start into the new part of the course. As already stated above, I felt slightly unsure about the amount of disharmonic chords as well as how much I could extend the bass note. In terms of the layout, I only decided at the end that I could put all four voices in a two stave arrangmenet. Overall, a small enjoyable exercise.

Project 6: A vocal jingle

Exercise: Advertising Slogans

Before starting to work on this exercise, I listened to some well known advertising -jingles as well as choir pieces and music written for barbershop quartets. I came to the conclusion, that most advert jingles have in common that they are simply structured, catchy and often repetitive. Features I wanted to use within the coming pieces as well.

Reflection: I had great fun working on this exercise, the advert jingles and other pieces of music I’ve listened to beforehand also certainly had an impact on the outcome. Initially, I thought about using already existing slogans, but decided it would be slightly more challenging to make up my own products. Similar to other slogans, I tried to keep them rather short and simple, the most advanced one in terms of the word setting was probably the cozy nightlight. The Listening Log entries didn’t only inspire me to use “random” syllables such as “Ba” to accompany a leading voice; I also got the idea of creating a small general rest before leading all voiced to a closed chord (e.g. in Cozy Nightlight).

Project 7: Percussive Voices

Research Point: Toch and Tormis

For the research point I was asked to find out some more about the works “Geographical Fugue” by Ernst Toch and Curse upon Iron by Velijo Tormis. The following paragraphs are my copied Listening Log entries about those two pieces.

Geographical Fugue

  • Composer: Ernst Toch
  • Year of composition: 1930
  • Performed by: Turtle Creek Chorale
  • Listened to: 31.03.2022

The text of the fugue evolves around several geographical terms and uses their rhythm to create the structure of a fugue. Seeing that it is written for 4 voices in recitative, the rhythm and the contrasting tone colours is the only texture the structure can rely on.

The piece is notated for a four – voiced choir for SATB, although each voice is only notated on a single rhythmic line instead of the usual note stave. The theme of the fugue is initially presented by the Tenor, followed by the Alto, Soprano and Bass. Within the last few bars, the rhythms get more compact, creating tension not only with a crescendo, leading to a final chord sung unison by all voices.

Funnily enough, I expected something completely different, but noticed that I already knew the piece from somewhere. Really enjoyable.

Raua Needmine

  • Composer: Veljo Tormis
  • Year of composition: 1970
  • Performed by: Nederlands Kamerkoor
  • Listened to: 31.03.2022

The text is a mixture of sung and spoken words, at least for the currently leading voice, which seems to be passed around different choir voices. Almost throughout the whole piece, the rest of the choir accompanies this leading voice with long sustained noted. Partially imitating other instruments, and partially echoing the leading voice, this form of accompaniment gives the piece its really unusual, slightly unsettling, yet antique sounding character. The only instrument used is a shaman drum, playing relentlessly almost throughout the whole piece.

I really enjoyed listening to this piece as I privately started listening to similar music roughly a year ago. The style of the band Heilung, which produces nordic – ritual – folk – bar comes really close to the mysterious sounding character of Raua Needmine.

The text from Curse upon Iron (Raua Needmine), is based on a national epic text, revised several times and translated by August Annist. The text warns about the abuse of technics (iron) and destruction in wars.

Exercise: A short choral piece

The task for this exercise was to create a short piece for choir singing “nonsense verse” instead of a proper text. The result is the following:


I hugely enjoyed working on this project, especially the previous exercise. As the voices were meant to imitate instruments, I started writing the piece for a small woodwind ensemble instead of a choir arrangement. I only changed the instruments and added a text afterwards. The piece itself is in a simple A-B-A’ form, with small changes in the melody and text pattern within the second A-part. I furthermore wanted to keep the last chord “open” to create a slightly more dramatic effect.