Notes for Sang!
I have always been struck by the contrast between the simple rhythms found in most of the music that ensembles of young musicians perform, and the intricate rhythms of “popular” music that they listen to at home and often sing with their friends. This is in large part due to the incredible difficulty that would be posed by having to read the rhythmic notation of popular music.
Therefore, in “Sang!” I set out to “teach” the complex rhythms in the form of a chant. This chant can be learned by the students aurally, which is an ancient teaching and performing technique and related to how students learn the rhythms of popular music. Then the entire piece is based on those rhythmic patterns. (This, in turn, teaches students what those rhythms look like in notation.)
The chant incorporates scat singing, which is an old technique found in African American music, particularly blues, jazz and hip hop. Its purpose is to vocalize expressively without necessarily singing words or phrases from an established language. While the text of the chant may lack specific description, it expresses whatever meaning the performer gives it and the audience receives.
Beyond these elements, the point of the piece is to have fun.