If Ye Love Me – Learning TracksView Craig McLeish's Full Store
I chose this as the first “classical choral” piece for my Community Choir and although it took a while to get the hang of it they loved it and would work really hard to learn all the entries. One of the keys to understanding this piece and many “polyphonic” masterpieces like it, is to know as much of the other parts as possible and how your particular part fits in. The lines are beautifully spaced and measured, and the imitation between the parts is a strong feature. However the counting between the various lines are different to each part, which is why the learning tracks will become important to those unfamiliar with such “contrapuntal” writing.
The other more stylistic thing to mention is that it works better when you start each phrase quietly, as if your voice is a bow on a string. A quiet start, a bit of development, especially through longer notes, and then phrasing away towards the end, makes the parts entwine round each other with a natural rise and fall, and avoids a stodgy mess which might happen if the dynamic is a constant mf.
Make sure you achieve a real pianissimo on the final repeat of “that he”. One way to do this is to encourage each singer to keep their voice lower than their neighbours – if everyone does this the theory is no one will stick out!
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