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In Rick Wakeman's album The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, the song Lady of the Lake serves as a (45 seconds) intermede between the first and third songs of the album. Later in the album, at the beginning of Sir Galahad, the same melody is employed (but with changed lyrics) and it also 'separates' the previous song from the next.

Here is a clip for Lady of the Lake (followed by Guinevere at 0:45):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zt9GuAmRoo0

And here is clip for Sir Galahad:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LGeC-5_merY

As you will notice, both 'songs' have the following characteristics:

  • They are choruses
  • They are a capella
  • They sort of 'separate' the album into different sections; they feel like some kind of intermedes to the album

I find it gives the album a very 'medieval' vibe and I really like the harmonies from the chorus (makes me feel good). So here are my questions (in no particular order):

  1. Is this type of music a 'genre'? If so, what is it called. If not, is there at least a name that describes music that has the above characterstics?
  2. Was this type of music actually used in the past (in medieval times perhaps) and if so, was it used similarly (to 'separate') or was the chorus extended to last more than one minute for example?
  3. Where could I hear something similar?

Note: I'm not asking about the genre of the whole album, but really the 45 second excerpts I've linked. Thanks in advance!

  • It's kind of somewhere between Gregorian Chant & Madrigal, though afaik, it's neither of those [I'm by no means an expert on that type of music] It is a kind of 'medieval church' music, they all were back in those days, no-one else could afford composers. See if you like this, though it also has female vocals - dewolfemusic.com/search.php?code=CjojBz&id=15355227 - Done by a friend of mine :) – Tetsujin Jul 17 at 12:45
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This sounds to be composed in imitation of the style of the old European church hymns. It's perhaps best described as a "motet":

In western music, a motet is a mainly vocal musical composition, of highly diverse form and style, from the late medieval era to the present. The motet was one of the pre-eminent polyphonic forms of Renaissance music. According to Margaret Bent, "a piece of music in several parts with words" is as precise a definition of the motet as will serve from the 13th to the late 16th century and beyond.[1] The late 13th-century theorist Johannes de Grocheo believed that the motet was "not to be celebrated in the presence of common people, because they do not notice its subtlety, nor are they delighted in hearing it, but in the presence of the educated and of those who are seeking out subtleties in the arts"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motet

The most wonderful motet I know is Palestrina's Sicut Cervus, a 500 year old piece of music that still sounds as fresh as if it were written yesterday.

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There's nothing medieval about the sound of the voices or the harmonies of the piece. The harmonic language is firmly rooted in the eighteenth century, it's only slight more chromatic than the harmonies that J.S.Bach would have written. The music largely gets its sombre quality from the fact that it's sung by a male-voice choir. It sounds like something Rick Wakeman might have written in a harmony class when he was studying at the Royal College of Music

Adressing your questions:

  1. The genre is best described as "chorale".

The chorale originated when Martin Luther forked sacred songs in vernacular language from established practices of church music near the end of the first quarter of the 16th century. This music was partially based on established melodies of church hymns and known secular songs. In the 17th century the repertoire was enriched with more choral and organ settings of the chorale tunes.
The format was soon expanded with choral movements in the form of four-part chorales. Entirely new chorale compositions became rare after the Romantic era, but by that time the four-part harmonisation technique, as exemplified in four-part chorales, had become part of the canon of Western music.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chorale

  1. Composers such as Bach often placed these chorales as a concluding movement at the end of their church compositions. About a minute would be typical for the lenght of suc a piece.

  2. TouTube has plenty of examples of this type of music. A search for "Bach chorale male voice choir" will get you started. Or do a search for male voice choirs from Wales or Russia where they like this type of choir. Here's a link to one of the nicest Bach Chorales (but sung by a mixed choir).

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