Sacred Harmony (2017)
Medium: flute choir
Length: ~8.25 min
Sacred Harmony, for flute choir (piccolo, 5 flutes, alto flute and optional bass flute), utilizes source material found in the shape-note collections Sacred Harp and Southern Harmony, compiled in the 1800s, as well as one original tune composed in the same style. In ternary form, the piece owes much of its harmonic inspiration to the quartal and quintal styles of the shape-note hymns, combined with the more pentatonic elements of the melodies. The five pre-existing tunes in order of appearance are: "Azmon" (O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing), "Cheerful," "David’s Lamentation," "Resignation," and "Invitation" (Hark I Hear the Harps Eternal). The original tune composed in the same style makes its appearance throughout the piece, and is entitled “Devinney” after the street on which the composer resides. In some cases the shape-note melodies are stated in their entirety, such as the opening 'Azmon' and the closing 'Invitation;' while in others--most notably with 'David's Lamentation' which uses the notes corresponding to the words "O my son"--only small fragments of the tunes are used.
Several extended techniques are used in the slow section: harmonics, over-blowing to harmonics while executing a tremolo, and singing while playing.
This piece is a loose arrangement of Penitence and Praise, using the same hymn tunes, but is designed for high school/college level flute choirs, with differing levels of difficulty in the various parts, and containing an optional bass flute part.