The Monograph Series, from the American Choral Directors Association

October 1, 1999


Monograph No. 1: Guide for the Beginning Choral Director, by the American Choral Directors Association National Repertoire and Standards Committee Chairs, Gordon H. Lamb, Chair. Lawton, Oklahoma: American Choral Directors Association, 1972. iii + 41 pp.

Monograph No. 2: An Annotated Inventory of Distinctive Choral Literature for Performance at the High School Level, by Margaret Hawkins. Lawton, Oklahoma: American Choral Directors Association, 1976. iv + 69 pp.

Monograph No. 3: The Choral Journal: An Index to Volumes 1-18, by Gordon Paine. Lawton, Oklahoma: American Choral Directors Association, 1978. xv + 170 pp.

Monograph No. 4: A Classified, Annotated Bibliography of Articles Related to Choral Music in Five Major Periodicals through 1980, edited by Lynn Whitten. Lawton, Oklahoma: American Choral Directors Association, 1982. xvii + 233 pp.

Monograph No. 5: Singing in English: A Manual of English Diction for Singers and Choral Directors, by Richard Cox. Lawton, Oklahoma: American Choral Directors Association, 1990. 109 pp.

Monograph No. 6: A Classified Index of American Doctoral Dissertations and Dissertation Projects on Choral Music Complete or Currently in Progress through 1989, compiled by Michael J. Anderson. Lawton, Oklahoma: American Choral Directors Association, 1990. xvii + 177 pp.

Monograph No. 7: The Choral Journal: An Index to Volumes 19-32, by Scott W. Dorsey. Lawton, Oklahoma: American Choral Directors Association, 1992. xvi + 134 pp.

Monograph No. 8: American Singing Societies and Their Partsongs: Ten Prominent American Composers of the Genre (1860-1940) and the Seminal Singing Societies that Performed the Repertory, by William Osborne. Lawton, Oklahoma: American Choral Directors Association, 1994. 112 pp.

Monograph No. 9: Twentieth-Century Choral Music: An Annotated Bibliography of Music Appropriate for College and University Choirs, by Richard J. Bloesch and Weyburn Wasson. Lawton, Oklahoma: American Choral Directors Association, 1997. xi + 289 pp.

The Monograph Series from the American Choral Directors Association includes a variety of publications intended to serve as practical resources for choral conductors and scholars of choral music. It is the reference manuals in the series that make the greatest contributions to choral scholarship. Nearly half of the publications in the series provide helpful and welcome resources for researching literature on choral topics.

Two of the monographs (No. 3 and No. 7) index the contents of the Choral Journal, the official publication of the American Choral Directors Association, from 1959-1992. Similar to RILM abstracts, entries are organized by subject, with brief annotations for articles. General indices at the end of each volume cross-reference entries by author and by secondary topic. Notably, choral music reviews have been omitted from the indices, along with news and promotional material, but items of interest to researchers have been indexed, including major articles, short subjects and regular columns of general interest, and book and record reviews. Editorial methodology and usage instructions are explained clearly in the introductory sections.

Articles on choral topics are also indexed in Monograph No. 4, which lists choral entries from five periodicals: The American Choral Review, Church Music, The Journal of the American Musicological Society, Music and Letters, and The Musical Quarterly. The subject classifications used to organize the entries match those from the Choral Journal indices, and authors and cross-references are again listed at the back. With listings only through 1980, however, this resource is in need of an update.

The last of the reference materials, Monograph No. 6 represents ACDA's efforts to provide a comprehensive listing of dissertations and dissertation projects related to choral music, again organized by subject headings consistent with the previous publications. Notably, this index contains numerous listings not included in Dissertation Abstracts International or Doctoral Dissertations in Musicology. Institutions offering doctoral degrees in choral music were contacted directly, and as a result perhaps a quarter of the listings can only be obtained from university libraries. To aid researchers in locating such documents, university names and addresses have been included in the appendices. Listings also include reference numbers for locating and ordering materials from University Microfilms International and from Doctoral Dissertations in Musicology.

The remaining publications in the ACDA Monograph Series are practical resources for choral directors. The most usable are the repertory listings. An Annotated Inventory of Distinctive Choral Literature for Performance at the High School Level (Monograph No. 2) recommends roughly three hundred "masterworks," as well as nearly sixty choral anthologies. High school choruses vary greatly in ability, and the recommended repertoire is correspondingly varied in difficulty. While the inventory is by no means comprehensive, its listings include a wealth of information necessary for determining practicality and suitability. Organized by composer, the listings include information on voicing, instrumentation, language, duration, and publisher catalog numbers, as well as brief descriptions with helpful information on performance considerations, historical context and significance. As the preface makes clear, the publication "makes no attempt to present a balanced proportion of styles, sacred and secular texts, ethnic interests, historical eras or publishers," no doubt a concern for those seeking increasingly diverse repertory. But this volume's focus on tried-and-true standard repertory is also its strength. This reviewer encountered a number of interesting and unfamiliar works to explore. And given that the monograph aims only to list standard repertory, the 1976 publication date poses few problems.

Twentieth-Century Choral Music (Monograph No. 9) undertakes the more ambitious task of listing recent repertory for mixed-voice college and university choirs. With over two hundred pages of listings, this bibliography attempts a "broad, but not comprehensive," survey of music. The number of annotated listings for each composer has been limited due to space constraints, but additional works from prolific composers are highlighted in "see also listings." Show choir repertoire and works "more suitable for church choirs" have been omitted, as have arrangements of spirituals, folk songs, and carols. While one could certainly debate the inclusion of some composers and works, to the exclusion of others, the volume is nonetheless a valuable resource for choral conductors, most of whom will discover a wealth of new repertoire possibilities. The annotations are quite inconsistent in content and scope, but their inclusion is still one of the volume's assets. Particularly helpful are the numerous supplemental indices, which provide separate listings by title, voicing, instrumentation, language, and duration. Composer and composition dates are also included, as are addresses for publishers.

Repertory listings are also included in American Singing Societies and Their Partsongs (Monograph No. 8), a somewhat odd inclusion in the monograph series. This book discusses the published partsongs of ten American composers: Amy Cheney Beach, Dudley Buck, George Whitefield Chadwick, Arthur Foote, William Wallace Gilchrist, Henry Hadley, Margaret Ruthven Lang, Edward MacDowell, John Knowles Paine, and Horatio Parker. In addition, it chronicles concerts, events, directors, and even by-laws and membership policies for ten singing societies, including groups such as the Liederkranz and the Rubinstein Club of New York and Boston's Apollo Club. Efforts to summarize and draw conclusions about the genre and its impact are kept to a minimum. If you have a particular interest in these singing societies or delight in this repertoire and in discovering the unusual text or the unfamiliar partsong, then you may want to check out this manual. If not, this journal will do little to inspire new enthusiasm.

Perhaps the weakest volume in the monograph series is the Guide for the Beginning Choral Director (Monograph No. 1). This handbook was intended to offer practical advice for college seniors, a supplement to their college texts as they enter the working world. There is indeed some useful advice, but nearly thirty years after its publication date, the language is outdated, and I suspect most college seniors wouldn't make it past the opening chapter. In this section, common-sense virtues such as preparation, concentration, discipline, and knowing what is expected of you are extolled, but there are few practical suggestions to elevate the discussion beyond generalization. Likewise, the chapter on organizing a school choral program discusses at length the importance of establishing long-term philosophic direction, offers a few tips on structuring choral groups and schedules, but offers no advice whatsoever on how to plan or work with a budget. Instead, young choral conductors are presented with the necessity of choosing between the "hard road of music education through the sensitive and dynamic medium of the choral art" and the "easier and more glamorous route of choir building filled with entertainment, public relations purposes and lots of non-musical stimulus." Further, the chapter on securing a choral teaching position mentions nothing about how to craft a resume, select repertoire for a tape of conducting samples, or even how to locate job listings. Fortunately, the chapters on choosing repertoire and running auditions are far more practical.

Singing in English (Monograph No. 5) is more scholarly and more useful. While there is a great deal of overlap with existing literature, the focus on diction for choruses rather than soloists is helpful, and the distinctions between Eastern, Southern, General American, and standard British English provide interesting food for thought. The final chapter includes a particularly helpful demonstration of the author's diction recommendations, translating familiar texts from Haydn's The Creation and Randall Thompson's "Choose Something Like a Star" into the International Phonetic Alphabet, with numerous notations and explanations.

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