Searching for Martyn Noble - 6 results.

1. Forget not my law
Martyn Noble

Duration: 2'00"
Ensemble: SATB unaccompanied
Grading: Medium
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This piece speaks about how we should never forget what is right and to follow our own hearts. We should never allow mercy (to others) or truth to leave us, instead we should bind mercy and truth "about our necks" and write them to our hearts; for if we do this, we will find favour, good understanding and respect not only to God, but also to our fellow people.

To me, these words speak about hope, faith, trust in what is good and optimism; we should never take it upon ourselves to do what is best for us but, instead, to do what is right for all.

This charming, reflective and quiet piece for unaccompanied SATB is ideal as an introit or a short anthem and can be used throughout the year. It is a tonal piece in E major, punctuated with suspensions to emphasise the reflective mood, mixed with the occasional chromatic chord to add character. The middle section starts in the relative minor and climaxes on the words "write them upon the table of thine heart" before working its way, slowly, back to the home key, finishing with a nice "crunchy" cadence. It is a simple but effective piece with a small amount of six-part writing in the final few bars.

2. I say unto you which hear
Martyn Noble

Duration: 5'00"
Ensemble: SATB organ
Grading: Medium/Difficult
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"I say unto you which hear" has one clear message: love your enemies. These words, taken from Luke 6, encourage us to help others, not for the reason of expecting anything back in return but purely for selfless kindness. For if ye "love your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; [and] your reward shall be great... for [God] is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil."

This piece starts with a very simple, quiet, thoughtful utterance of the message accompanied by the organ pedals alone. This opening melodic theme keeps coming back throughout the piece in the organ part, sometimes very clearly, sometimes less so because those which hear will be reminded of the message of selfless kindness.

The piece then takes a very emotive journey trying to convince people that this message is a good one: "Bless them that curse you", "unto [them] that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other", "Give to every [hu]man that asketh of thee", "And as ye would that [people] should do to you, do ye also to them likewise". The pinnacle of this piece is the contrast between good and evil, which shows the difference between the slightly slower, quieter, less dissonant sections talking about what thank have ye if we expect things in return for our kindness, and the much more dissonant, faster, unison sections explaining that "sinners also do even the same", before an eruption of emotion, almost anger from the organ, about the fact that not enough people are listening to this message.

The opening message returns after this and we enter the final section of the piece, which begins with a very peaceful C major chord, upon hearing about our reward. The piece builds and builds, ending with a very grand, full organ exclamation of the message.

I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,
Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.
And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloak forbid not to take thy coat also.
Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again.
And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.
For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them.
And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same.
And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.
But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.

3. Evening Service In F Minor
Martyn Noble

Duration: 8'30"
Ensemble: SATB organ
Grading: Medium/Difficult
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This setting of the Magnificat and Nunc Dimitis in the key of F minor pushes the boundaries between dissonant and consonant relationships. There are quiet sections with very simple harmony accompanying a solo voice, but there are also much more dramatic and dissonant sections that contain loud organ chords comprised of both a tritone and a major seventh that rise chromatically.

The Magnificat begins fairly modestly until it is interrupted by the organ, with its use of dramatic false relations and chromatic harmony which the choir then copies. A much more sombre mood is then utilised for "his mercy" with a slowing down of the harmonic rhythm, before more dissonance is explored, building to the climactic "mighty from their seat" with its use of bold, unprepared suspensions, accompanied by chromatic block chords from the organ. It eventually winds down to the very peaceful section which starts with "He remembering … his servant Israel" before eventually finishing on a quiet unison note from the sopranos and altos.

The Nunc Dimittis is much quieter and slower with a more reflective, contemplative feel to it. It explores the strings of the organ with cluster chords whilst the choir have long, slow-moving and slightly tonally-ambiguous lines above it. From bar 15 however, it builds and builds, getting more and more spiky in its harmony until at the end we have the vocal lines in unison with some intense harmony from the organ underneath. This then leads back into the dramatic Gloria.

The Gloria is very dramatic and is definitely the focal point of this work. After more dissonance from the organ introduction, the Gloria is led by the choir with loud interjections from the organ. Eventually the organ erupts, breaking the tension, and material from the start of the Magnificat is reintroduced before eventually finishing with a glorious final cadence with an (optional!) top C from the sopranos over an F major chord. The pedals have the final say however with a cheeky, descending motif that goes through Ab and Gb before settling on the tonic.

This piece is set for four parts only with optional divisi for the final four bars of the Gloria.

4. Mass in D Minor
Martyn Noble

Duration: 11'30"
Ensemble: SATB organ
Grading: Difficult
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This mass plays around with the relationship between consonance and disonance whilst maintaining a level of dialogue between the choir and the organ. There are sections that are very still and meditative, such as the Benedictus which begins with a solo voice, and there are also sections of passionate chromatisicm and loud false relations, particularly in the Gloria, which ends on a loud D major chord from the organ with the choir singing (in unison) an F natural before finally resolving downwards onto the tonic.

The Kyrie alternates between unaccompanied choral sections with slower, simpler moving harmonies and organ interludes that start to explore more chromatic harmony.

The Gloria is definitely the most adventurous movement of this mass, not only in terms of dissonance, but also with its interplay between simple and compound time signatures, dynamic contrasts and a climactic, unprepared #4-3 suspension with the Sopranos on a top A#.

The Sanctus has two main sections of tension and release. One is very early on in the piece where the organ explodes with full organ chords (albeit with simple harmony). Further on, after a period of build up from the choir where false relations are starting to be introduced again, the organ once again interrupts but this time with much more adventurous harmony, a 32' pedal reed and an accelerando to build tension before an eventual release with an unaccompanied, quiet "Hosanna in excelsis".

The Benedictus is much tamer in its exploration of harmony and begins with a simple solo voice whose melody is then augmented in the tenor part. It ends with an open fifth chord in the relative major with a short tertiary modulation beforehand.

The Agnus Dei is much more contemplative and follows the same layout as the Kyrie, with alternating choral and organ sections. The organ interludes alternate with 4/4 and 3/4 bars to give a gentle rhythmic lilt. There is a much more subdued climax towards the end from the organ before the choir and organ come together for a final, peaceful "dona nobis pacem" ending in the tonic major.

5. Evening Canticles in C Major
Martyn Noble

Duration: 5'00"
Ensemble: trebles organ
Grading: Easy/Medium
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This delightful setting of the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis for trebles and organ suits all voice types with a higher vocal range. It is very approachable both in its difficulty and its harmonic language; simplicity is the key! However, with occasional spice in its harmonic language and frequent visits to related keys (and the odd time signature change) there is more than enough to keep the listener and performer engaged whilst maintaining a sense of cohesion throughout. There are also occasional, simple divisi passages that complement each other. If you are looking for a setting of the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis for higher voices that is approachable and charming, then this is an ideal setting to go for.

6. Earth grown old
Martyn Noble

Duration: 4'45"
Ensemble: SATB unaccompanied
Grading: Medium/Difficult
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Earth Grown Old is an Advent piece based on words by Christina Rossetti, and is set for unaccompanied SATB with a short section for double choir (or optional semi-chorus). It focuses on the thoughtful and penitential, although there are powerful emotional outbursts in the middle, with rich chromaticism and fighting dissonances (frequently clashing and resolving) being the focal point of an otherwise diatonic piece with softer, more charming clashes. The piece gives us a chance to stop and evaluate our own lives as we wait for Christmas to arrive, all whilst being aware that the Earth (grown old) has been waiting for much longer than we have, with "millions more lie[ing] hid between inner swathings of her fold".

Earth Grown Old has four different sections, the first characterising our busy lives, the hustle and bustle of everyday life, with a simple, almost monotonous, repeated harmonic sequence, with simple harmony and parts bouncing off each other.

The second section starts to introduce a mood of being frantic, emulating that we are "quickly told" by many people that so many others have been in the same situation we are in. Here we see much more chromatic, almost chord-cluster like lines, before firing into a vivace section where "we who live are quickly told" is repeated over and over again, creating the frantic mood.

The third section is the focal point of this piece, perhaps symbolising that we cannot wait anymore or we cannot continue with the monotony of everyday life and need a change in our lives. This passionate section splits into double choir (or SATB with semi-chorus) and not only plays with fighting dissonances (eg. a prolonged E major chord frequently trying to be pulled up by several F major chords in the first choir) but at its climax, starting with a unison line "burst[ing] through her mould" with the sopranos on a top A# accompanied with brief (but simultaneous) D minor and D# minor chords underneath before resolving to a wonderful 9-8 suspension in B minor.

The final section, the recapitulation, reminds us that throughout everything the Earth is there under us, with its "keen cold", still waiting.

Earth grown old, yet still so green,
Deep beneath her crust of cold
Nurses fire unfelt, unseen:
Earth grown old.

We who live are quickly told:
Millions more lie hid between
Inner swathings of her fold.

When will fire break up her screen?
When will life burst through her mould?
Earth, earth, earth, thy cold is keen,
Earth grown old.