This group isn't running on-site at the moment, but this page is still used for some things elsewhere - it wouldn't take much to bring it back, so if you have an interest, get in touch.

The Motet Reading Group currently meets Wednesdays at 5:15 (in Informatics Forum, Room 3.02) to read through motets and madrigals, with the odd excursion into other genres of mutual interest. Members indicate whether they are coming to any given session a little ahead (usually, the previous Friday afternoon) so that I can find something to fit the group. If the music is on-line, I put a link here for you to print it from before you come; if it is in books, then I bring those. We sing one voice per part, although if we can't find something to suit the set of people coming, we may occasionally double up. If there's a last minute cancellation, we can end up running through something completely unexpected, so this does require reasonable (but not perfect!) sight-reading skills. Most of us wouldn't consider ourselves vocalists. Although individually, we aren't necessarily averse to singing in public, this is not a performing group - it's just for fun and to get a good look at the literature.

If you're interested in joining or being a last-minute sub for the odd week, contact Jean Carletta. It's useful if you declare your range below. If you're interested but unsure you're up for this, you can come once and sing softly along with someone else to get a sense of what it's like. If you're interested but the time or way we handle this particular group doesn't suit you, also get in touch - I'm considering setting up some kind of evening madrigal and motet sessions, probably in Morningside. Especially if you don't sing, see also ChamberSessions.

For group members, there's a section for discussion below. Feel free to comment, object, recommend... throughout the page.


On the schedule if I name a specific work, the people are listed in order of voice part starting with the top voice, more or less, just to help me.

We aren't having weekly sessions in-house at the moment, but we are trying ones elsewhere on the first and third Wednesdays of the month - please ask..

(upcoming: try to source enough copies of "A Purcell anthology: vocal score")

Wed 2 May 2012, 8 pm, Morningside. Still counting heads, still Byrd and Tallis, I think, with Morley's Canzonets for three voices as a fall-back if we're short people.

Wed 18 Apr 2012, 8 pm, Morningside. We think it's useful to declare notes ahead, so we've declared the following:

Wed 22 Mar 2012, 8 pm , Morningside. In the church, but unheated; we can move to the heated space downstairs at any time. You needn't worry about being quiet, but don't be too early - I don't think I can arrive with the key more than 5 minutes ahead. KM, JC, GL, PB or KB, BL, JR, MR?. My idea of how to do this is to choose some things that will get us used to each others's voice - for which I will come with the following:

Wed 7 Mar 2012, 8 pm, Morningside: We're going to have a motets "special" - there are a bunch of new people I'm asking, so this first time it will be standard (motet only) books and nothing too tricky, and then thinking about where we go next (I can easily do a first Wednesday of the month there for either a regular group or a sign-up-and-sing, but there are other possibilities as well). Be pleased to see anyone who wants to come; if I know you're coming then I'll worry less if one of the others drops out (and warn you first if anything goes horribly wrong so it's cancelled). IMPORTANT: we're surfing off the heat of a church service that's partly silent - don't be early, enter quietly, and be careful in case they run long; in extreme cases, we gather in the hall (all the way down the drive and through a basement door at the back). So far: KM, JC, MR?, BL, JR, PB; KB, LF, RP?, MEF? all unavailable on the night; MB doesn't do Wednesdays; GL, KO, MP, SH, AL presumed uninterested until hear otherwise.

No LF until autumn 2012, except maybe specials.

Old instructions:

Announce what weeks you'll be here by editing the wiki. Please also announce when you aren't here, since that saves me wondering whether you've forgotten on the weeks when you'd be useful for a missing voice. It helps to indicate well ahead of time if you're already pretty sure you are or aren't here, since then I can spot unusual voice combinations ahead of time and look for the right material. I start looking for firm declarations one week in advance, but I can accommodate some uncertainty.

Range declarations:

This is just notes for me to remember when I'm trying to match works to voices/figure out who I can ask whether they're coming to fill in a part. Brackets mean possible but weaker - we try not to choose pieces that require those notes prominently. On the other hand, if a piece is interesting, we just try to find a work-around that lets us read it anyway.

  • AI: Mz, [F3] G3 to D5
  • GL: Bar, almost tenor, G2 to G4 5 start preferred
  • JC: Mz, [G3] A-flat 3 to G5
  • RP: B, G2 to E4
  • JR: light bar
  • MiG :B or T, whatever
  • JG: S or higher A

Rare visitors/retired:

  • AK: Bar, G2 to E4 [F-sharp 4]
  • CC: Bar, G2 to E4 or F4 (max. availability is around half-time)
  • JE: B, D2-D4
  • MEF: S, C4? to A5
  • MG: tenor end of Bar, ?? to E4 maybe
  • RW: B,something like Ef2-D4
  • SH: A, [E3] F3 to D5 [E5]
  • JN: Bar, [F2] G2 to F4
  • KO: Mz



The AI and Music group has an electronic keyboard they will let us borrow. On it, to get transposition, press the function key, and then the right arrow next to the dial until it says "transpose". Then turning the dial changes the key by a semi-tone at a time.

JC keeps a set of recorders in her office for keyboard emergencies.

Past readings:

I provide a direct link to PDF so there's no hassle about figuring out which edition I mean, but for the WSO links, that means they've gone stale - Google on choralwiki and the composer/title to find them again.

This is nowhere near complete - I'll just have to rely on memory not to bore people, but most people aren't averse to second gos.


For three:

For four:

JC: Insufficient time spent, could bring back with a different group. We got the sense of it; the relief when we got to "reward me" was palpable. This group wants it scheduled again when it's just us four.

Bach chorales


  • 1, 2, 3, 4: MEF, JC, JN, MG, RP, JE (various doublings, at pitch)
  • 18: JC, SH/GL, JN, MG (at pitch)
  • 31: JC, SH, GL/JN, MG (at pitch)
  • 40: JC/SH, GL, JN, MG (at pitch)

For five:

JC: If we get a keyboard, I want this to come back - we kept losing pitch on the chord progressions and we could just use it to reinforce those points.

For six:

  • (MEF, JC, JN, MG, RP, JE) Vignon, vignon, vignette, Orlando di Lasso, at pitch, sight-readable but requires coordination. AATBBB. Translation at
  • (guest, JC, AI, GL, JN, MG; at pitch) (guest, guest, JC/guest, JN, GL, JE) William Byrd, Haec Dies (SSATTB, no good way out of this voicing without a deep B; down a bit helps Bars singing T.). Ranges: S1:?-F5, S2:?-F5, A:Af3-Bf4, T1: Ef3-Gf4, T2:Ef3-Af4, B:Af2-F4
  • (MEF, JC, GL, JE, RP) Durufle, Ubi Caritas (based on Gregorian chant) completely sight-readable and (it turns out) well known anyway. It's six part in places but usually lines run together.
  • (JC, AI, JN, GL, RP, JE with CC doubling someone) Parsons, Credo Quod Redemptor AATBarBarB , A1:Ef4-D5 A2:[F3]Bf3-C5 T:Ef3-F4[G4], Bar:?-Ef4 Bar:?-Df4 B:F2-?. If a Bar takes the third part and doesn't have a G4, swap the 2nd and 3rd lines up a part for bars 20-23.
  • (MEF, JC, AI, GL, JE, RP) Richard Dering, Factum est silentium SSATTB OBTA, not on web. S1: E4-Fs5 S2:E4-E5[Fs5] A:Cs4-B4 T1:E3-Fs4[Gs4] T2:E3-E[Fs4] B:Gs2-Cs4.
  • (MEF, JC, AI, GL, JE, RP) Weelkes, Hosanna to the Son of David, from OBTA.
  • (MEF, JC, AI, GL, RP, RW; first couple of pages only) Andrea Gabrielli, Chi chi li chi, SSATBarB , B:F2-, Bar:-D4 T:-C4[F4]. Sight-readable, but only the bass has a normal clef to read. Highly anthologized but googling suggests its bawdy. I've written out a piano reduction for the first pages; if we decide to finish it pull them out.

Possible future readings:

For three

There's only one three left in OBEM that we haven't sung: Weelkes, Thus sings my dearest jewel (SAB).

For four

GL: for an alternative interpretation, look here :)

Three girls and a boy


For five

For six

  • Gibbons, O Lord in Thy Wrath SSAATB Not on web. S1,2:F4-F5 A1,2:F3-Bf4 T:Bf2-F4 B:Af2-C4 If we get desperate, down a minor third with four men, or down a second with three men and an actual alto (not a mezzo).
  • Byrd, Sing joyfully SSAATB OBTA S1:F4-F5 S2:Ef4-F5 A1:G3-Bf4 A2:[F3]Af3-Bf4 T:Ef3-F4 B:G2-C4. There aren't many G2's, but they're quite important. Transposition makes SSATTB achievable.
  • John Ward, Come Sable Night OBEM or SSATTB, S:F4-G5, S: Ef4-G5, A:G3-D5, T:Fs3-G4, T:Ef3-A4, B:G2-C4.

For seven:

JE: I have no objection to modern music, but I do not think that this particular piece is very well suited to a small ensemble. The extremes, both of range and dynamics, and the ultra-homophonic texture (manifested both in the haphazard divisi and the frequent parallelisms) make it much more appropriate for a choir of 40+.

For eight:

Unformed ideas: for some six part that doesn't require quite so extreme ranges? has some things that might be suitable for larger sets - I haven't had a chance to assess the ranges yet.

Maybe some William Billings,, - Chester is most famous, David's Lament is the only one I've sung, Jargon is most dissonant.

Composers I don't think we've tried yet that are anthologized: Bennet, Cavendish, Ward, Farmer, Morley, Vautor, Kirbye, Ramsey, Gibbons, Campian, Peerson, Dowland, Ford, Jones, Pilkington, Whythorne.

For an all-male week, the bring-along could maybe be a catch (but I'm not smart enough to tell ahead which ones might be really rude). Purcell's are supposedly best known; there's a bunch There aren't good performance instructions in the set - basically, they're rounds with a twist. When the first voice reaches the second line, the second voice starts up (these are strictly rendered so that the systems make sense that way).

JE says Ockeghem is nice and low. I wonder if there's other useful stuff at

Library sets:

I'm thinking of a new strategy - which is picking up complete sets from the library at Monday lunchtime and returning them the next day. Here's just some notes about what they have that's easy to get.


  • Italian School (4 copies) M2082 Ita. All four parts and reasonable SATB ranges.
  • Spanish School (3 copies) M2082 Spa. All four parts and reasonable SATB ranges. Some have tenor parts that are high enough they could be read by an alto: Ortiz, Janitor Caeli; Morales, Simile est Regnum; maybe JE's recommended Esquivel, Ego Sum Panis Vivus.
  • Oxford Book of Tudor Anthems (10 copies) M2060 Oxf.; 4-8 parts, often with more higher voices than lower.


  • Oxford book of English madrigals. (8 copies) M1579 Oxf, table of contents at Plenty of (mostly?) 4-6 part madrigals with a variety of voicings; contains some of our favourites.
  • Oxford book of Italian madrigals (7 copies) M1579 Oxf. - did once.
  • Penguin Book of English madrigals for four voices. (9 copies) M1579 Pen.
  • Invitation to Madrigals 1 - four copies at M1578 Inv.


  • Scholars book of glees - 5 part SATBarB M1579 or thereabouts, maybe 8 copies
  • some other book of 4 part glees, also plenty of copies
  • Carols for choirs 1 (at least 8 copies) and 2 (10 copies) M2065 Car. (I remember one of these had some interesting French carols in it, but haven't checked which one - and they're popular so we'd have to do them out of season.) They are entirely four part. There is an Oxford Book of Carols that looks interesting in a Cecil Sharp kind of way but I don't know how many copies we can scare up.
Topic revision: r387 - 30 Apr 2012 - 10:40:28 - JeanCarletta
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