Degree Name

Master of Music

Department or Program



Davenport, Susan G.


When searching for appropriate literature for any choral group, there are many considerations to take into account: the musical abilities of the singers, the type of accompaniment, the vocal ranges and tessitura in the parts, the language of the text, etc. One primary consideration would be the divisi or number of parts within a piece, which can sometimes be a good measure of the piece’s difficulty. Put simply, more divisi generally means that the singers must be able to sing more complex chords with more independence. So it might seem that pieces with a great deal of divisi would be a poor choice for very small groups with limited musical abilities. However, more divisi in a piece does not automatically render it more harmonically complex, but often functions to thicken the sound through doubling of notes in other voices or the accompaniment. Conversely, a piece of choral music that comprises just two vocal parts might seem to be too simple for a group with strong musical ability. Actually, there is a wide variety of two-part music that can not only prove musically challenging to such a group, but also provides ample teaching opportunities in rehearsal as well as a satisfying musical experience for both ensemble and audience. I will discuss five such pieces for two-part women’s chamber ensemble, all of varying levels of difficulty, and address them regarding several points: history, form and structure, conducting and performance considerations, and reviews on available recordings.