Well, the QUESTIONS aren’t atonal, but you know what I mean!
I’m in the process of re-engraving (this time in Dorico, after earlier handwritten, Finale, and Sibelius versions) an atonal choral piece SATB that I wrote back in 1964. On reviewing it I am second-guessing my original notation in several places, because of difficulty in recognizing odd intervals, such as augmented seconds and diminished sixths. When there are whole-tone scales going up, I tend to use sharps, and when going down flats. But sometimes it gets more complicated than that.
So I have questions for choral conductors whose choirs are comfortable with reading such music:
- Do your singers tend to read by interval as opposed to actual note-names?
- Do they get confused if there are, say, a D-flat and a D-sharp in the same measure?
- Are they bothered by the use of enharmonic equivalents for B, C, E, and F, if that makes the interval easier to figure out?
- Do they tend to try to “think in C” when there is no key signature?
- Are your altos and tenors (especially) comfortable with chromatic scale passages both up and down?
(I often wish there was a way in music notation to indicate “that black note right there, regardless of what you want to call it.” That would make life so much easier!)
To give an example of the kind of issue I see in my piece, picture a passage for sopranos starting on middle C and going from there up to F#, Bb, C, and Eb. Would it be better to use a Gb for the F#, because it’s an easier interval?
Another example: Sopranos again, starting on high Eb top space, or D# the line below that. Then down, whole-scale-wise all the way to the Eb on the bottom line, and then jumping back up the whole octave to the top note. Right now I am using a D# for the top note because it’s easier to read the whole step from the second to the third note of the scale going down, that is, C# to B, but when I get to the bottom I do call it Eb, because the whole step from F to Eb is easier to read than from F to D#. But then the leap up to the original note looks funny, because a leap from the low Eb to the high D# doesn’t LOOK like an octave. How would your singers prefer to see such a passage notated?!?
Thanks in advance for any help on this.