Title: America the Beautiful $1.50
Performance Requirements: SATB chorus
Composer: Ben J. Legett
Text: Katherine L. Bates
Difficulty (1-5): 3
Range: sop d1-f2, alto g - d2, tenor f - e-flat, bass G - b-flat
Rehearsal Guide: This close-harmony version of Samuel Ward's melody
includes the first and last verses only and employs a good bit of chromaticism.
The first verse is sung by the women in an SSA configuration; the last verse is
sung by SATB with minimal divisi.
There are two keys to a successful performance of this arrangement: teaching
the voice-leading and getting the singers to really hear the chords. The voice
leading is mostly stepwise, but the chromaticism will take a little attention,
especially in the alto part. To get the singers to hear the chords and make
each one "ring" (as the Barbershoppers like to say), try this: In a room with
live acoustics, toggle back and forth between two adjacent chords until each
one is bright and vibrant. For example, sing the chord at measure 7, beat
four and then the next one (measure 8, beat 1) and go back to the first one
again. Continue to move back and forth until each one is really in tune. Use
this technique anytime an altered chord seems "wrong". And remember, any
note that has been raised by an accidental will need to be sung higher than
singers tend to do.
To make things easier in learning the second verse, work with the tenors and
basses first. The sopranos and altos will have a much easier time of it if they
can relate their notes to the harmonies that are defined by the men.