Songs of the Questioner

by Thomas LaVoy

Text Author: Richard Le Gallienne

Music © 2015 GIA.

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Vocal Forces: SATB divisi

Accompaniment: Piano

Text Source: From English Poems, 4th ed., 1895

Series: Evoking Sound, Evoking Sound

Difficulty Level: M/D


Songs of the Questioner brings us down the path that each of us takes as we recede into our minds to question 
important aspects of life. The literary device of the question mark is transmuted from a visual image on the page
into a musical concept played by the piano; low pedal tones and broad, swirling harmonies in upper registers
represent the ball and curl of the question mark respectively. The chorus and piano parts also have an unusual
 relationship in this work. The piano part contains the emotional heart of the work, the internal feeling of
 questioning oneself; the choir effectively “translates” the music using the text. In this way the piano represents 
our subconscious and wordless thought stream; the choir is of the conscious mind that attempts to decipher this 
stream in real time.

There are many chant-like melodies within Songs of the Questioner, some of which are taken directly from the
 nightly compline service that we took part in during the Oxford institute. For me, chant embodies a point of
 contact between the natural mind and the human spirit, a brief moment in time when a community can reflect 
upon the connection between the physical world and whatever it is that animates us spiritually. As musicians deal in time, space, and the spirit constantly, the benefits of engaging in chant as a part of the questioning process cannot be overstated.

—Thomas LaVoy

See the premier performance of The Questioner

Westminster Williamson Voices: James Jordan, Conductor
University of Aberdeen Chamber Choir: Paul Mealor, Conductor

Categories: Choral Vocal

Topical: Meditation

Number of Pages: 40

Language: English

Format: Softcover


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