Compared to sacred music, secular choral music is limited in the variety of musical forms available. In hopes of expanding the diversity of musical formats, Secretary Michael is experimenting with different musical architectures. Among them is the "choral dialectic". As the name suggests, a choral dialectic is a debate, a musical tussle between two points of view. At the end there is a resolution as the two sides reach a sort of harmony. Or maybe not.

Choral Dialectics


Secretary Michael is currently composing 6 choral dialectics. The ones shown above have already been completed. These booklets may be purchased from amazon for only $6 each (click on images above), or downloaded for only $4 from Sheet Music Plus, or (cheapest of all) the pdf files may be downloaded for free from the following links:
1. Clean Water
2. Change
3. Balance

These scores are in the public domain so you may legally copy them for your choir.

Hopefully you'll find that these storylike works are interesting, fun to sing (SATB), fun to listen to, provide clear and rational argument, and contribute to the secular repertoire. The subject matter of Secretary Michael's works is always egalitarian in spirit. Although choral dialectics can be challenging to write, these are quite easy to sing. A favorite technique of Secretary Michael is to combine earlier melodies into a glorious hodgepodge at the end. These choral dialectics do that big-time!

Please help open a brighter future for secular choral music by supporting experiments like these - and also by creating your own musical structures. If your choir does perform any choral dialectics, please record and post your performances on YouTube so that we can all learn from them.


What is a Choral Dialectic?

A “choral dialectic” is a four-movement choral work (with or without instruments) in which a rational argument about any subject is battled-out musically. There’s only one rule: every choral dialectic must use the following four titles for its four movements:

Latin for “I believe”, the Credo movement presents a pre-existing feeling or understanding about the subject.

Short for “on the one hand”, this movement introduces one side of the argument.

Short for “on the other hand”, this movement introduces a different side of the argument - a contrasting way of looking at it. If the previous movement was sweet, this one will probably be sour. If the previous was about abundance, this one will probably be about scarcity.

Now that the two hands have tossed the arguments back and forth, some sort of new understanding will have to emerge. Maybe there will be growth - a new way of being, a new way of living in the world, a new “Credo”. Or maybe not.


With its “Credo” beginning and its “Go and Do (Ite Missa Est)” ending, the choral dialectic might be regarded as a secular analogue to the choral Mass.


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