GUEST BLOG: "Attaching Stories to Choral Texts," by Amanda Bumgarner
Date: April 1, 2014
ATTACHING STORIES TO CHORAL TEXTS by Amanda Bumgarner
The May 2014 issue of the Choral Journal features a cover article written by Philip Silvey titled “Fashioning Compelling Stories” in which Silvey argues for the importance of the role of stories in a choral singer’s experience—what he calls “text narrative exploration.”
Undoubtedly, there is a unique power in the creating or telling of a story, but the question for choral educators remains: How should that power be applied to music? Some might even ask: Should that power be applied to music?
Many choral purists take issue with the idea that a work of art cannot be appreciated simply for what it is without attaching a story to it. Others, like Silvey, maintain that creating a story to supplement a choral text adds depth and ultimately leads to a more enriching experience for the conductor, singers, and audience members. Silvey says, “By fashioning their own compelling narratives, singers create a context for what is being said, shed light on possible motivations, and enable words to make expressive sense.”
Then there is this sentiment from English musician John McLaughlin: “The moment you start to talk about playing music, you destroy music. It cannot be talked about. It can only be played, enjoyed, and listened to.”
Which side do you fall on? Do you think fashioning stories for choral texts allows for greater expression? Or do you take artistic issue with the notion that a text cannot stand alone?
Feel free to share your thoughts here on ChoralNet or even send in a “Letter to the Editor” for consideration for publication in an upcoming issue of Choral Journal. I would love to hear from you! Better still perhaps YOU should write an article or column in the Choral Journal. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.