Graham Jennings

Thanksgiving Mass – audio recordings

  • Mass

I used the VSDC screen capture option to make a recording of Musescore playing the pieces and created a simple YouTube video in case someone wants to listen to the mass and also produced a version with my singing. These tracks were only produced to help me get an idea of what it might sound like with the words sung and I have not included all the lines (which when compressed within my vocal range gives too thick a texture).

It’s time to move on now.

What next?

I’m not sure… but there is a partly unused Agnus Dei sitting a folder on the computer which would be much more suitable as a stand-alone Angus Dei than it ever was as part of the Gloria. Will this call me to convert this writing into a missa tota – a full mass? Well, never say “never” as they say… but not yet.

Domine Deus Agnus Dei and a closure

  • Mass

I have settled on a shorter introductory section to open the piece so it now has this structure so, instead of a simple A-B-Ch, A-B-Ch structure (Ch being the chorus) it is A-Ch, A-B-Ch, A-B-Ch. I finished writing this and recorded an mixed this – in the end (for the time being at any rate) omitting the separate sung bass line in the verses as this (together with the melody doubled by sopranos and tenors) overwhelmed the main tune carried by the altos.

I printed all four pieces and put these through my friend’s letter box together with a birthday card and all with four hours left on deadline day. This gives me some sort of closure on this piece which, I think, I needed.

Domine Deus Agnus Dei

  • Mass

The new version of this piece in now basically done, including harmonisation. I have, in fact retained the chorus from the old version in its entirety. This starts in the minor (which suits the pleading for mercy and that prayers will be heard) but moves to end in the major, representing confidence that our prayers will, indeed, be heard by God. I have used a link phrase move into the chorus.

I am much happier with the overall “feel” of this new version. It seems to me to retain a feeling of thankfulness – thankfulness that God sent his Son as the Lamb of God to take away our sins – rather than wallow, as it were, in sorrow and regret at the necessity of the act!

Domine Deus, Agnus Dei and a decision

  • Mass

Conscious of the approaching deadline, I have been working on the Domine Deus/Agnus Dei in any spare moment during the week – starting on the computer earlier and working later into the evening.

An abbreviated version of the existing (not Agnus Dei) piece does seem better but still feels rather too mournful for this part of the mass. A “new” version is developing and I am favouring this at the moment. It is based on an idea, two phrases, which was in fact a counter-melody included in an early version of the original Agnus Dei. Extended slightly and move to the major key, this now provides the main melody. I have been working on making sure that the English/Latin text fits comfortably.

Domine Deus, Agnus Dei

  • Mass

Having thought I was about finished on this piece a few weeks ago, I have decided that 8th March, (the birthday of the friend which set this ball rolling) should be a self-imposed final deadline.

I have continued thinking and experimenting with a “new” Agnus Dei – which is really a Domine Deus/Agnus Dei. I am still investigating shortening the existing piece, changing sections into the major key and, at the same time, starting the piece completely again.

Quoniam

  • Mass

Experiments with adding a verse to the Quoniam did not get very far. I have now finished recording this and mixed the tracks. Listening to this led me to swap some lines between the lower voices (tenors/basses) and upper voices (sopranos/altos) in the fugal section of the first half of the verse. This reverses a decision I originally made to give the voices a different role in the first half of the verse to the second (mainly to add variety) but the effect of moving between upper and lower voices is now improved and there is a better balance to the first half of each verse. The Quoniam track is all mixed.

(not the) Agnus Dei “crisis”

  • Mass

I have been having a crisis re. not the Agnus Dei.

More than one crisis.

Taking the setting of the Gloria as a whole (i.e. the three sections together) I find that the Domine Deus – as in the line Domine Deus, Agnus Dei, Filius Patris is not set properly in context/sequence. Furthermore, the tone of this section seems too sombre. Thinking about the Mass as a whole, this setting is more suitable for the “stand-alone” Agnus Dei of the full mass rather than the similar words included as part of the Gloria (which, for me, are a celebration of the taking away of the sins of the world).

The upshot is that I have decided that, although I am happier with the chorus sections of the Agnus Dei now, this piece has to be significantly changed – or be swapped for a completely new piece.

I am experimenting with a few things including abbreviating the piece significantly and also trying the option of including these words with the Quoniam (i.e. as a new “first verse” for this piece).

Quoniam – tweaks and recording

  • Mass

I have made a small change to the opening phrase of the Quoniam “verses” – the “feel” was rather too “jerky” and the way that the words scan in each verse allows a minim to be used instead of a dotted crochet/quaver for the opening syllable without losing anything. I have now recorded the tenor and soprano lines.

Gloria – re-recorded

  • Mass

I have re-recorded the Gloria with the changed sections and mixed this. Although I didn’t like this version so much at first, it is growing on me and it does sound much “cleaner”. I have also re-recorded and mixed the “chorus” sections of not the Agnus Dei.

Gloria – edited

  • Mass

I have been experimenting with different versions of the “gloria chorus”. In the end, I’ve settled on a version which extends the tenor/bass chords and has more of a call-and-response feel. At first, I felt this version lost a bit of energy and drive, but I have come to like it and the effect is much tidier and seems to me to be really joyful.

I have also gone back to a full repetition of the last line for both part one and part two of each verse. I had removed this from the “part ones” because I feared too much repetition but a small edit (to finish the repetition with two crochets) and one small melodic change has allowed me to revert – and this is more in keeping with the “West Gallery” genre.