Category: Research

Musica: A Great Benefit for ACDA Members

If you are searching for choral repertoire, and the fact is, we are indeed searching for choral repertoire all the time, your membership in the American Choral Directors Association offers you the entire Musica choral database to track down repertoire throughout the world.

Why would you use Musica rather than a Google search? Great question! Here are some answers I think you will find compelling:musica-international1

  1. The Musica database references the score for the choral piece you want to find and does not drown in all other areas that you will encounter in a typical Google search;
  2. Music is a structured database, which means there exists a specific field for each type of information describing a score—composer, title, voicing, number of voices, key center, genre, style, form, instrumentation, liturgical use, and much more (for example, try searching in Google for Swiss choral scores for mixed voices in French, for a harvest festival, lasting about five minutes….Good luck with that! But in Musica, your search can be pinpointed with these criteria.)
  3. With Musica, fields of a search are grouped, making the search much more friendly and faster;
  4. In Musica, several search forms are available for the user who can choose the one that is best suited to the research desired, or to the one that is most comfortable to the user;
  5. Musica automatically translates the important data into four languages, allowing access to all data, even those introduced in Musica in a language other than that used by the visitor;
  6. A Musica record includes all the information about the score into a single entity; you will find the bibliographic description, but also the multimedia links (video, audio clip, translations, pronunciation of the text, image of the page, and more);
  7. The information is monitored constantly and checked and improved (in other words, it is trusted) by the Musica coordination team, which is a team of choral conductors and music librarians (in other words, this is a trusted site, avoiding the negative aspects of Wikipedia and Google searches);
  8. The videos selected for the choral works sought are only the good performances, unlike Google and YouTube that mix the best with the worst;
  9. In the composer’s file, nearly 11,000 composers have one or more links to detailed biographies, again checked and monitored by the Musica team;
  10. Musica offers “favorite pieces of the month” for additional exploration and interest;
  11. Musica offers an “auditorium” where you can browse through the vast compilation of all audio and video links;
  12. Musica allows you to interact with the data by using a Musica Wiki or Facebook page;
  13. Musica offers a list of important anniversaries for composers.
  14. Musica can be used to manage your choral holdings without need of doing your own database, by benefitting from private fields to input for instance your location.

Musica has developed into THE choral music research and teaching tool for the benefit of conductors, musicologists, music conservatories and schools, music federations, and choral music industry members, worldwide. For the experienced choral musician, it is the source for discovering literature from around the world. For the student of choral music, Musica is a keen way to discover and learn about the world of choral repertoire.

Music comprises four databases that can be consulted separately: choral scores-170,000 records; choral composers-30,000 records; authors of texts-13,000 records; choral publishers-2,200 records. These databases are interlinked so that it is possible to navigate directly between them.

The database of scores comprises a series of records yielding as many as 100 different types of information about the score, including composer, arranger, publisher, title, genre, form, difficulty, type of choir, language, musical period, instrumentation, etc. About 20 fields are translated automatically through several multilingual thesaurus developed by the Musica International team. As a result, information is automatically and immediately available in the different languages.

Musica currently contains more than 200,000 multimedia links. The multimedia fields are designed to provide a fuller understanding of the piece: image of one page of the score, the text, its translation in several languages, a sound clip of a good interpretation and/or a video, a sound file of the correct pronunciation by a
native speaker of the language, a midi file, and links to pages external of the project. By the end of 2015, the Musica database contained more than 170,000 records, making it the leading virtual library of choral music in which all possible information about a score is available.

Since 2011, Musica has concentrated on the development of features allowing full interactivity with the actors of choral music. The choral world is able to contribute actively to its development through the linked online Musica Wiki, allowing every composer, publisher, conductor, musicologist, or choral music lover to leave comments, additional information and reports of experiences with the music, and to directly input their favorite pieces.

Musica is now a benefit of membership in ACDA. At the Eastern Division ACDA Conference in Boston in February, 2016, I will be joined by the Musica Board to present an Interest Session on the use of the Musica database with all of the features mentioned in this blog. I hope many of you will come and learn from the Musica team as they unfold the richness of this choral repertoire search engine and learning resource.

Tim Sharp is Executive Director of the American Choral Directors Association, the world’s largest association of choral conductors, students, scholars, composers, and choral industry representatives. Tim has pursued an aggressive agenda of strategic planning and progressive initiatives to keep the American Choral Directors Association energized and relevant in the 21st century. He represents choral activity in the United States to the International Federation for Choral Music, and appears regularly as guest conductor and clinician throughout the world. Tim is in his eighth season as Artistic Director of the Tulsa Oratorio Chorus, where critics characterized his performances as having “stunning power” and “great passion and precision”. In a recent review of the Tulsa Oratorio Chorus’ performance of Mozart’s Requiem, arts critic James Watts stated, “The Tulsa Oratorio Chorus, prepared by its artistic director Tim Sharp, was in excellent form, summoning up rafter-shaking power…and showing great sensitivity ….”

Conference Discoveries!

Amelia Nagoski,
Research Initiatives

I don’t have much opportunity to alter my routine: teaching, conducting, score prep, meetings. Wash, rinse, repeat. It’s easy to forget that there’s a whole world outside my rehearsal room that’s influencing my students, singers, audience, and administration. Thankfully, there are passionate, brilliant people looking deeply into the world we inhabit and finding ways we can stay more connected to the past, the present, and the future, and how we can use those connections to make our work more beautiful and more meaningful.

One of the things I love about ACDA conferences is the chance to interrupt the self-perpetuating cycle of doing more of what I already know, and the chance to be influenced by those brilliant, passionate people. With inspiring energy and commitment, they show me things I’ve never considered — or at least never thought I could manage myself. They spark curiosity, and allow me to reboot my work, to break out of the merely habitual routine into fresh thoughtfulness. “Research” may sound dusty, but in fact it’s the thing that allows us to shake off the build-up of old assumptions!

I’m especially excited about our two Research Roundtable sessions, which will feature ACDA Boston logo-Smallconnections between established standard operating procedures and much broader issues: “The Science of Singing,” and “Saving the World Through Singing.” Both will have conversations among leaders in their subject, comparing notes and giving the rest of us practical advice on how we can make our rehearsals, our singers, and our communities better. These inspiring speakers remind us that we work in a world where technology advances side by side with social injustice. Both of these things — and so much more! — are influencing our singers and our audiences whether we acknowledge them or not. The impact of that influence could come sneaking up on us unless we’re paying attention. On the other hand, if we can see if coming, we can harness it to create more beauty, to connect more meaningfully.

The discovery of new ideas, or the discovery of new connections between old ideas, pushes open boundaries between scientists and artists, singers and conductors, audiences and ensembles, communities and music-makers. But it only works if we take opportunities like these to challenge our habits, and embrace new possibilities.

The good news is you don’t have to do it alone. There are thousands of us; we are mighty and we are legion. Let’s listen to each other. Let’s ask questions. Let’s look further and deeper for the answers. Let’s meet in Boston, and see how far we can go together.

On-line Resources in African American Sacred Music

Dr. Anthony Leach
Division R&S Chair, Music in Worship

The internet has positively transformed aspects of the planning that teachers, musicians, worship leaders and others use to frame and/or guide their process that often results in successful programming. Within the African American community there are two organizations that have become my “go to” points of reference as I coordinate repertoire and identify worship resources in African American sacred music:

African American Lectionary

A collaborative project of the African American Pulpit and American Baptist College of Nashville has archival planning materials for a wide array of worship services that are celebrated in African American congregations across the USA. Contributions from pastors, musicians, scholars and others occurred from 2008 – 2013. Selected categories include the following: Emancipation Proclamation Day, Holy Communion and Epiphany, A Service of Healing, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday, Baptism, African Heritage Sunday, Ash Wednesday, Lent, MAAFA Service, Contemporary Heroes and Heroines Day, Anti-Incarceration Day, Jesus and Women, Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter, Jesus and Economic Justice Sunday, Earth Day, Jesus and Hip Hop Culture, Ecumenical Day of Worship, First Sunday of Advent & World AIDS Day, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Watch Night

For each topic, scriptures, themes, hymns, choral/instrumental repertoire, liturgical dance, video and other resource materials are provided. Additional worship and cultural resources are also listed as separate links. I enthusiastically suggest that if you are seeking materials that may help you in planning worship encounters that have an African American focus, visit the website and be inspired!

NtTimeMusic is a music distributor based in Charlotte, NC. Their print, video, music transcription and audio holdings are vast in African American sacred music. In recent years they have provided downloading services for selected repertoire. Traditional and contemporary gospel, Praise and Worship, Liturgical Dance, Musicals, Children’s Choir Resources, Spirituals, Anthems and Hymn Arrangements by African American Composers are some of the broad categories that are available to the consumer. Currently there is a link on their website for compositions by the late André Crouch, composer of ‘Soon and Very Soon,’ ‘My Tribute/To God Be The Glory’ and ‘Let the Church Say Amen.’ is my “go to” resource for compositions that I perform with all of the choirs for which I provide artistic leadership as well as festival choirs around the world. If you are seeking something that they do not have on site they will probably be able to connect you with the composer/arranger for further guidance.

The Value of Research

Dr. Amelia Nagoski
Research Initiatives Chair

I want to talk about the value of research. I’ll be writing a few entries about it in preparation for the next ACDA Eastern Conference, where I hope to help promote research and scholarship among choral musicians.

The word academic can have negative connotations: it refers to things not immediately applicable to practical implementation; things that are theoretical or semantic, that only only describe behavior–or, if they have influence, it is indirect. In my experience, this connotation is only true to the extent that you believe it is true. With judicious application of imagination (more important than knowledge, according to the Albert Einstein poster in my office), research becomes one of most powerful tools for improving real-world results.

At its essence, research consists of finding out what other people have already thought of and tried, imagining something new, and/or combining disparate things into something new. Then you try it, and report on what works… Read the rest