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Setting text to music


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I'm planning on writing a choral piece this year; probably something super sad like an elegy or something. But I don't want to use some biblical Latin text just because it's all been done so much.

So for those of you who have done this type of thing before, where do you get your lyrics for pieces? If you wrote them yourself, don't bother posting because that's worthless unless you're going to write mine too. Actually, even still. Public domain for the win.

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i often just go to a poetry website and read modern stuff that's been written recently. do you have any friends that are writers? that's another good resource.

you can, of course, write your own stuff. berlioz was probably one of the first popular composer/librettists, although he's way beyond what you'd be doing in terms of scope (he did the whole text for at least one of his operas).

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i'm working with a writer who's writing shorts based on a cyberpunk-ish theme. he writes the story, i write the music for it - it's an interesting way to work.

my suggestion would be to 'practice' by taking random shorts from different things that you've read (as dumb as this seems, fanfiction is a good way to get the proper length of writings) and trying to set that mood or idea to music. flexes your compositional muscles a lot.

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Latin sounds great when sung, as does Italian and French to an extent. German and English are tough customers and don't flow too well in song. Too many awkward syllables, not enough vowel endings. Don't be so quick to dismiss the possibility of using Latin. If you're writing an elegy you could write your own Ave Maria. Try to write something better than the famous classical incarnations, and even if you fail you'll still have something impressive to show.

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Oh goody.

Amharic is fun, it's got some click sounds and all that without being too hard to pronounce. They can be used to dramatic effect if you really wanted them to.

And... Spanish and Portuguese and Italian are pretty without sounding girly and flaccid like French.

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Using stylized nonsense syllables a la Adiemus is a really cool idea. It's something I want to try at some point.

EDIT: For something sad, I'm gonna say use a traditional Latin requiem text. Sure everyone's done it, but that's part of the appeal. You're taking part in a grand tradition.

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some of the major african languages, in particular swahili (baba yetu!), have some fantastic sounds to the language itself. if you want to get really weird, try them.

Weird is good. Actually, I got to take a look at the score for the VGL arrangement of Civilization IV's music at one point, but it's been a couple years.

Using stylized nonsense syllables a la Adiemus is a really cool idea. It's something I want to try at some point.

EDIT: For something sad, I'm gonna say use a traditional Latin requiem text. Sure everyone's done it, but that's part of the appeal. You're taking part in a grand tradition.

Adiemus seems really, really, really cool. It's definitely on the table. And if I can't find some awesome text, Lux Aeterna is already my backup plan.

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