Music, when soft voices die (Philip Legge)

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  • CPDL #22478:        (Sibelius 5)
Editor: Philip Legge (submitted 2010-10-21).   Score information: A4, 5 pages, 124 kB   Copyright: CC BY NC ND 2.5 Australia
Edition notes: May also be sung as SATB with ad lib. piano accompaniment. MusicXML source file is in compressed .mxl format.

General Information

Title: Music, when soft voices die
Composer: Philip Legge
Lyricist: Percy Bysshe Shelley

Number of voices: 8vv   Voicing: SATB.SATB or SATB
Genre: SecularPartsong

Language: English
Instruments: A cappella when SATB.SATB, Piano when SATB

Published: 2010 (Joint Issue: Choral Public Domain Library, Petrucci Music Library)

Description: Music, when Soft Voices die, mainly written in August 2009, is a grave, intricate setting of a short poem in two stanzas by the romantic poet Shelley (1792–1822). The work is written for two SATB choirs, the second of which (marked semplice, or "simple") holds long, sustained chords in the fashion of a drone, against which the voices of the first choir slowly weave dissonant and highly chromatic lines, producing dense chord clusters. The music, always specified to be quiet and calm, briefly becomes more active at the end of the first stanza as the first choir, followed by the second, seize on the phrase “within the sense they quicken”. After a short pause the second stanza begins almost at the same starting point as the first, but the exploratory chromatic harmonies of the first verse are gradually nullified, whereupon a diatonic canon takes over the first choir, during which the second choir disappears entirely. The last phrase ambiguously presents successive chords of C major, B major and G minor against the second choirs’ anchoring D major before the last chord tilts the ensemble up to the minor instance of the initial key of E.

External websites:

Original text and translations

Original text and translations may be found at Music, when soft voices die.