#43: Friday, February 15, 2019
“When Love Is My Song” by Jill Friedersdorf & Melissa Keylock
Text by Jill Friedersdorf
In honor of Valentine’s Day this week, I invite you to take a closer look at “When Love Is My Song,” for SSA choir. Jill Friedersdorf and Melissa Keylock work together for this moving selection, perfect for your three-part ensemble.
This piece was written in honor of Ruth Dwyer, associate director of the Indianapolis Children’s Choir and artistic director of the Columbus IN Children’s Choir. She is a long-time leader in Indiana choral music education. The text supports her legacy by touching on singing, peace, love, forgiveness, and the energy that comes from joining others in song. Given this focus, the piece is ideally suited to a wide range of concerts – the celebration/retirement/remembrance of a beloved music teacher, Music In Our Schools Month (MIOSM), concerts about love or peace, and concerts about singing, as well as adjudication/assessment or on your next district choir festival.
The selection begins in unison, but then moves to three-part homophony. Texture is primarily homophonic throughout, with some brief imitative entrances. Ranges are limited to a 9th for each voice part, and much of the voice line movement is stepwise. Rhythms are readable: eighth, quarter, dotted quarter, half, tie, and dotted 8th+16th.
The majority of the song can be learned on solfege, in Bb major. There are some instances with flat-third (Db/me) and flat-seventh (Ab/te) – which translates to a sporadic Db major chord here or there in the beginning, or a full 16-bar f-minor section later in the piece (minor v of the original I). You may or may not be able to solfege the altered tones or minor key with your ensemble, but the rest will be good work in Bb major.
For form, it is roughly strophic, but each verse is slightly different in texture. There is also a bridge later in the song (the section in f minor). Each time the refrain returns, the text is “And if love is my song, then forgiveness will fill my soul, and peace will flood all my life. When love is my song.” These words are contemplative, sincere, and hopeful, and are coupled with an uplifting, arcing musical phrase. I challenge you to find an ensemble or an audience that will not warm to this section.
Looking at the teaching perspective, this piece is a little bit in disguise. Because it begins in unison, and because there are repeated refrains, it may appear “easy” on first glance. “Oh, this and this and this are repeated, I can teach this one quickly.” Don’t be fooled – since each verse is just slightly different in pitch pattern or rhythm, your singers need to read carefully and notice the changes from verse to verse.
Once they do though, the piece should come together well, and provide many chances for shaping, shading, and emoting. If your advanced ensemble is used to singing in four parts, they may balk at an SSA piece, but this can be a lovely moment for them. And because of the quality part writing, it can also be the stretch piece for a usually-2part ensemble. Once that group can navigate the small nuances from verse to verse, the harmonies and entrances will fall into place.
I encourage you to take a look at this piece, for the next time you need a solid “about music” or “about love” selection, or the next time you need a warm and moving addition to a festival program. I plan to use this with my next festival gig, and am looking forward to the music we will make together.
|Title:||When Love Is My Song|
|Composer:||Jill Friedersdorf & Melissa Keylock|
|Date of Composition:||2014|
|Subject(s), Genre:||Love, Community, Singing, Music|
|Dedication:||Written in honor of Ruth Dwyer and her lifetime of inspiring students and music educators|
|Series:||Ruth Dwyer Choral Series|
|Publisher:||Colla Voce Music 24-96170|
|Further descriptions and details, including program notes, audio, perusal score, and purchasing: |
Until next week!
Dr. Shelbie Wahl-Fouts is
associate professor of music, Director of Choral Activities, and music
department chair at Hollins University, a women’s college in Roanoke, Virginia.