Guide to the
The choral dialectic “Change” is scored for unaccompanied SATB choir. It lasts less than 12 minutes. It’s an argument for-and-against making changes. A comical mayor makes arguments “against” change. The ensemble makes arguments “for” change.
The choral dialectic “Clean Water” is scored for unaccompanied SATB choir. It lasts less than 12 minutes. This was the first dialectic that Secretary Michael wrote when the form hadn’t yet fully taken shape. It doesn’t follow a rigorous “pro vs con” structure. It’s more of a “beauty vs reality” structure. But it works.
The choral dialectic “Balance” is scored for unaccompanied SATB choir. It lasts less than 18 minutes. It’s an argument for either living a life of restraint so that others might have fuller lives, or else living life in the fast lane.
The choral dialectic “Excellence” is scored for unaccompanied SATB choir plus (gulp) an Animal Choir. It lasts less than 13 minutes. It’s an argument about either striving for excellence using exclusivity, or striving for excellence using inclusivity.
What is a Choral Dialectic?
A “choral dialectic” is a four-movement choral work (with or without instruments) in which a rational argument about any subject is battled-out musically. The four movements generally follow this structure:
Each dialectic begins with a statement of some sort. This will be the subject matter for the entire work. Oftentimes the statement is an ideal – an expression of how something might be in a perfect world.
In this movement, the “Principle” begins its journey through the meat grinder. The Argument’s job is to pick apart the Principle, either supporting it or challenging it.
In this movement, the “Principle” gets supported or challenged again, but this time from a contrasting perspective. If the previous argument was sweet, this one will probably be sour. If the previous was about abundance, this one will probably be about scarcity.
Now that the “Principle” has been analyzed from different angles, some sort of final understanding will have to emerge. Maybe there will be growth, a new way of being, a new way of living in the world, a new “Principle”. Or maybe not.
The “choral dialectic” was created to serve as a secular alternative to the traditional religious musical forms, such as the Mass.