Finding Great Choral Music: The Search For Self-Published Music and ChoralNet Part 1

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Finding Choral Music

*** Many of the websites have changed in this series, and while the principles are still valid, the specific methods and links may no longer be relevant. However, the posts on composers and their compositions should still be quite relevant. ***

The Search

As a conductor I’ve enjoyed finding great choir music. As a composer, I’ve enjoyed connecting conductors with what I feel is great music. I love great choral music (yes I know that is somewhat subjective) and I personally do not really mind where I find a piece. There is so much great choral repertoire that is self-published these days, it is worth finding.

For a variety of reasons, more and more composers are moving in the direction of self-publishing. With distribution systems being created that allow composers to retain copyright it is not altogether surprising.

However, the search for great self-published repertoire can feel more inefficient, difficult, and tedious at times than just going to a trusted publisher or distributor.

 

This blog series is going to show some ways the search can be made easier, more efficient, and less tedious.

Post 1: Using ChoralNet Resources Part 1: The Composition Showcase
Post 2: Using Distributors of Self Published Music
Post 3: Using ChoralNet Resources Part 2: Forums and Announcements
Post 4: Recommended Composers and Compositions Part 1
Post 5: Recommended Composers and Compositions Part 2

I hope you find this very helpful!

Using ChoralNet Resources Part 1

Choralnet.org is a useful resource for choral musicians in so many ways. If you aren’t familiar with choralnet, it is a good time to get familiar. Choralnet also offers a host of resources in the area of repertoire, and in this blog series I will highlight three resources in two posts.

The Composition Showcase

The Composition Showcase is a place where composers have each placed several self-published pieces for perusal (and often listening) by conductors. A link is provided as to where the piece may be viewed, listened to, and purchased.

A major advantage of the Showcase is that it brings together sample pieces by many composers into one place. One can get an idea about the composer and his/her work before spending time on their personal website.

The Showcase, while very useful (I’ve found pieces for use here), can be a challenge to navigate, and even find for some. Here I’ve listed information about the Showcase, and ways to use the Showcase with maximum efficiency.

Information

How many composers have music on the Showcase? About 100 and growing.
Can I view a sample pdf file of the pieces? Yes, every piece has a perusal file.
Do the pieces include recordings? Often yes, but not always. In this regard it is similar to many publishing and distributing websites.
Can I purchase music on the Showcase? No. With each piece there is a link to where/how it may be purchased.
What types of choir voicing is represented? Wide variety: SATB, men, women, treble, unison, etc….

Using the Showcase

Access

To access the Showcase from http://choralnet.org/ click on the Resources tab at the top of the page. Once there, select the Repertoire link. When this opens you will notice a tremendous amount of resources available. Next select Getting Choral Music. When this tab opens, the ChoralNet Composition Showcase will be the top link, click there.

Navigation On the left of the Showcase are lists sorted by voicing, season, and a composer index. The lists have grown to be quite long, so searching for pieces can feel tedious. I recommend a couple of strategies.

Strategy One: Use the composer index.

In many ways the composer index seems a more efficient way to search (especially if you are looking for SATB music) than the complete list. Here the pieces of each composer are listed together and include title and voicing. Click on the titles that sound interesting, which will open in a new tab. I recommend opening no more than one or two pieces per composer. If you find that particular piece appealing, go back for more titles from the same composer, check out their personal website, contact them, etc….

Strategy Two: Search the silver platter awards list.

At the bottom of the Composition Showcase page is a heading titled Community Features. Under this heading, the second link is the silver platter awards. These are pieces from the Showcase that have been selected for special recognition due to quality, accessibility for various scenarios, etc…. Pieces are selected on a varying schedule and highlighted on the Choralnet front page for several days. This list is therefore vetted by someone other than the composers themselves, and may direct a conductor to high quality works. Again, if a particular piece is appealing, it is worthwhile checking out other music by the composer (both on the Showcase, and on their personal website).

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While a bit complicated to use, the Showcase can prove to be a valuable resource to conductors looking for great music. Using the above strategies can greatly increase the efficiency in the perusal list. I will highlight a few composers from the Showcase on a later post.

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