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gospel choir harmony question

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by song4gabriel, Aug 10, 2009.

  1. song4gabriel

    song4gabriel Active Member

    hey all

    i just composed a song and have a great idea for a gospel choir section for part of it...embarrassingly i don't know much about composing (or tracking) gospel choirs. i have access to a choir if i can have the arrangement done

    i scoured the net and couldnt find an answer to my question.

    anyone know the standard part harmonies for a typical gospel choir?

    is it as simple as bass, tenor, alto, and soprano? (and is there mex soprano in there?)

    anyone that can point in the right direction i would be very grateful!

  2. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Typically, it is SATB. It's not uncommon to see Soprano II in the parts if you have a top-heavy gospel choir (I guess that could be taken both ways...in both cases, most gospel choirs I've seen ARE top heavy).

    It's also pretty common to put the men into pretty simple harmonies - octaves, unison or major/minor thirds. I'm not sure if this is based on the fact that most amateur choirs have men that can't sing well or what, but it's typically the case.

    Make sure you keep your ranges in check. I can't tell you how many otherwise good choir tunes are ruined by having ladies come in cold on a high F#. One of them will get it. The others will sound like their attempting to filet a living cat.

  3. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Is that like Tex Mex? ;-)

    Gospel choirs would range from call and response to unison to 2 part to SATB. I've not really heard much 4 part SATB writing in a traditional gospel setting though. That said, I haven't heard much gospel in many a year. You might check out some Mahalia Jackson recordings or Five Blind Boys from Alabama or some similar stuff to get more of an idea.

    Pre coffee thought,
  4. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    Perhaps a Mexican mezzo soprano? Mex Soprano.
  5. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Or maybe just like the typical sopranos I see-mix, as in mixed up?
  6. song4gabriel

    song4gabriel Active Member

    x is shorthand for 2 z's... :)
  7. song4gabriel

    song4gabriel Active Member

    thanks jack and and cucco-for your pointers and suggestions...i'll check out those artists you mentined
  8. AudioGeezer

    AudioGeezer Active Member

    I've done many Gospel choir records. The parts aren't usually written they are developed, and refined, by the director in rehearsals. On the spot sort of garage rock band work it out kind of thing.

    More often than not it's been SAT with the occasional B thrown in for goodness. The sound wouldn't be the same if the T wasn't just a bit flat....
  9. song4gabriel

    song4gabriel Active Member

    thanks geezer- funny i recorded myself and used avox choir to replicate the real thing...sounds ok for demo purposes, but i was feeling like the bass was just kind in the way...i removed most of it and left it in for asplash here and there

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