Don’t Scare me like that, Composers!

I swear, I have completely lost any capacity at memory it seems. Something recently made me remember writing about how hard it is to achieve ensemble rhythm sometimes. It’s one thing for a bunch of singers to be all together technically-speaking, but if you’re not really feeling it as one it can sound wooden and march-like. If you’re truly down there in the rhythm together however, the music jumps to life. You can hear and feel the difference immediately.

And that made me remember this really scary thing I read in one of composer Morten Lauridsen’s essays, Composers on composing for choir. Lauridsen is very insistent that taking the right tempo is crucial to reaching the correct emotional pitch. Of course he’s right. Different tempos will communicate different feelings.

While conceding that there‚Äôs room for interpretation, he writes that his piece O Magnum Mysterium is often conducted too slowly, and that seven or eight minutes is too long. Uh-oh. We’ve sung and recorded this piece. I immediately checked the CD. Five minutes and thirty-two seconds. Phew. We were okay!

And yet another shot of the Empire State Building from my roof. Is it my fault it’s so irresistible? You can see the Chrysler Building a little bit as well.

Stacy Horn

I've written six non-fiction books, the most recent is Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, and Criminal in 19th-Century New York.

View all posts by Stacy Horn →

2 thoughts on “Don’t Scare me like that, Composers!

  1. Beautiful day for this picture. Real happy and proud of your success with “Perfect Harmony” I am looking forward to getting a copy. I am sure those great reviews will keep coming in!

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