Talk:O bone Jesu (Robert Parsons)

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Revision as of 16:59, 9 May 2010 by Vaarky (talk | contribs) (add comment about tallis)
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I've thought about your change of 5vv to 6vv and changed it back, while attempting to clarify the situation with the note about the Bass gimell. I absolutely see your point - if 5 solo singers got together to perform this piece, they'd find themselves a man down - but it is still a "5-part" piece; i.e. it's contained in 5 partbooks. I think if we tried to reflect every division when specifying the overall number of voices, we'd get into difficulties - some of White's psalm-motets, while in 5 parts, have multiple gimells that would take the overall number of voices up to 8 or 10, enough to make any choir director's heart sink at the sight. And what about those not infrequent cases in earlier 16th-century polyphony where a voice-part divides only at a final chord - would we want to specify two voice-parts throughout? So many pieces from this period are distinguished by their number of voices that I think we perhaps need to retain the "traditional" designation. (I don't think there are in fact any gimells in White's 5-part Lamentations, but if there were, we'd be calling them the 6-part Lamentations, to the endless confusion of users looking for the "real", much less well-known, 6-part ones.) I think that categorising a piece such as O bone Jesu as AATTBB is right and necessary for users searching for specific voicings, but I'd still like somehow to retain a mention of the actual number of voice-parts. My initial attempt is far from perfect, so please feel free to have a better idea.--DaveF 16:28, 8 May 2010 (UTC)


This reminds me of the Tallis Gaude gloriosa Dei Mater, which is nominally for SATTBarB (6 parts), but has gymels for S, A, and B, so would require a total of 9 soloists. I gave the voicing for it as SATTBB and point out the divisi in the Description.

Reply by: Vaarky 16:49, 9 May 2010 (UTC)


I strongly feel that the searchable voicing should indicate the minimum voicing needed to sing the piece without omitting any notes. I disagree with the voicing on the Gaude Gloriosa too, btw.

The broader question is what the voicing category is for. Is it not for people to know what forces they need to perform a piece? Keeping this as a 5-part piece when it requires 6 mouths that can sing independently defeats the main purpose of this categorization. Putting it in the 5-part category creates the misleading impression that 5 people can sing it. If every piece that was mostly 4 part and had a brief divisi in every part to 8 voices categorized itself as 4 part, it would render searching by voicing largely useless in terms of noise to signal ratio. Even using multi-voicing to list it under both 4 and 8 voices makes search worthless because of all the pieces a group that can't handle the divisi has to wade through.

If one wants to indicate that this is essentially a 5-part piece with a brief gimel, then that is what should be indicated elsewhere than the categorization. The description, even the title, might be better places than categorizing it as searchable in the 5-voice category rather than 6.