The benefits of using a comprehensive database specialized in choral music such as Musica are great when one conceives of a themed concert program. One discovers unexpected jewels and many more options than can be found with other search engines. Musica is a database of only choral music with 172,000 records monitored by choral conductors and music librarians. Records include up to 100 types of information – composer, author, instrumentation, voicing, difficulty, genre, and on and on. And this immense and valuable resource is available and free for all ACDA members.
Members of ACDA go to the “Membership Resources” of the ACDA website (www.acda.org). Once you have logged in, click on the MUSICA logo and benefit from the entire website of Musica, with unrestricted privileges. If one is not an ACDA member, you can still access Musica at www.musicanet.org and create a personal account.
DESIGNING A CHORAL PROGRAM ENTITLED
ALONG THE MYTHICAL RIVERS
A first, let’s search simply for the keyword “river”, by using the field “Keywords, words of title…“ of the “Quick search form” on the homepage. 1485 answers appear, an overwhelming number. But by just looking at the first 10 titles you find interesting answers: “By the Rivers of Babylon” and “Deep River” would certainly be solid candidates for our program.
However, you may only want songs in English.
Therefore, let’s click on the button “More criteria for a more precise search”. Again input the search criterion “river” in the field “Words of title or Keywords or…” and the word “English” in the field “Language (main or adaptation). This search selects 552 answers. In the first few answers, you find “Dream Land starting with the words “Where sunless rivers weep” by Ivo Antognini, perhaps an unexpected or unknown title that could bring some originality to the program. By clicking on “Details”, you find an image of the score, the full text and a video of a good performance.
By going back to the folder of the list of results, one sees other interesting titles like “Way down upon the Swanee River.”
But let’s refine the search by limiting the results to “mixed” choirs. For this, with the “Back” arrow of the browser, one comes back to the search form, in which one can select the “Type of choir” “mixed”. The list ends now with 359 answers, and going until page 3, one finds titles like “Shenandoah” or “Le Pont Mirabeau”, by French Canadian composer Lionel Daunais, with an English adaptation of the poem of Guillaume Apollinaire.
Without being very specific at all, we already have 6 possible titles, with videos, texts, translations, and even pronunciation of the text, if needed.
One could of course have arrived to this state in one single step by putting all the criteria at once in the search form. For instance we could replace the search criterion “river” by the names of given rivers, and find some interesting results:
– Mississipi many arrangements of Ol’ Man River
– Missouri Cross the Wide Missouri, Shenandoah
– Volga Yo, heave ho, Volga Boatmen, plus many more answers if one removes the language as English
– Rhine Loreley (many answers if one removes the language criterion)
– Euphrates Babylon (and a lot more by searching for “Babylon” and even “Super Flumina Babylonis” without the language criterion
– Jordan 109 answers including Deep River, On Jordan’s Bank, Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
– Danube On Danube’s Border (Johannes Brahms), plus varying arrangements of the Blue Danube if the language criterion is removed
– Rio Grande The Rio Grande
– Loire C’est la Petit’ Fille Du Prince, by Francis Poulenc (Sus bord de Loire…), with an English adaptation.
You can imagine related searches such as “water” which might yield Eric Whitacre’s Water Night or arrangements of Wade in the Water.
Searching in Musica brings unlimited possibilities, and is so much more specific to what we do and what we need to find.
Here is a sample program created by Musica founder Jean Sturm, which included projected photos of the appropriate rivers.
EN MUSIQUE L’AN NEUF 2007 (Music for the New Year 2007)
le long des fleuves mythiques (Along the Mythical Rivers)
« du Mississipi à la Volga » (from the Mississippi to the Volga)
L’alligator Jean Gauffriau (b. 1931 – France)
Text by Robert Desnos (1900-1945 – France)
O Shenandoah James Erb (b. 1926 – USA)
C’est la petite fille du prince Francis Poulenc (1899-1963 – France)
(Sus l’bord de Loire)
Le pont Mirabeau Lionel Daunais (1902-1982 – Canada)
Guillaume Apollinaire (1880-1918 – France)
Loreley Friedrich Silcher (1789-1860 – Germany)
Heinrich Heine (1797-1856 – Germany)
Chant des haleurs de la Volga Gunter Erdmann (1939-1996 – Germany)
Le beau Danube bleu Johann Strauss (1825-1899 – Austria)
Tigris and Euphrates
Etant assis aux rives aquatiques Claude Goudimel (1514-1572 – France)
(Ps. 137) Clément Marot (1496-1544 – France)
An Wasserflüssen Babylon Johann Hermann Schein (1586-1630 – Germany)
Swing Low Matthias Becker (b. 1956 – Germany)
Va pensiero (Nabucco) Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901 – Italy)