George Frederic Handel is among the greatest songwriters of the oratorios in the baroque period. Oratorios are characteristically religious-themed songs composed for solo singers, choirs and orchestra. Unlike opera, oratorios are sung in church and concert halls and do not involve dramatization. Handel's oratorio Messiah is one of best-known compositions among the Western music. The most recognizable component of this remarkable work is the Hallelujah chorus which is traditionally performed worldwide as part of the Christian Easter celebration (Landgraf & Vickers, 2009). There are different elements of the Hallelujah chorus, but two parts manifest themselves than others. Identifying the texture and melody of the Hallelujah chorus is easy. Overall, texture and melody in the hallelujah chorus create contrast helping to make it feel magnificent and rich.
One can effortlessly notice the layering of sound in the Hallelujah chorus which is a combination of homophony and polyphony creating the texture. Homophony is present in the opening line where the choir is singing a single melody line with the word hallelujah. It is possible to notice the many melodic seconds used in this introduction which occurs in other parts of the piece as well. Polyphony equally occurs in various melodic lines that exist in the chorus. This is noticed once there is a change from all voices following a similar melody to where there occur many melodies simultaneously. Approximately half a minute in this piece succeeding the homophonic introduction, a baroque style polyphony follows. Echoes of 'Hallelujah' is combined with a new line 'for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth' creating polyphony.
The other aspect of texture is the use of dynamic, note duration and tempo which also help bring some interest. For instance, after a cheerful 'hallelujah' introduction has happened for some time, the volume drops creating another mood. This is immediately after horns and forte volume. In another instance, when the voices are singing "the kingdom of this world..." there is a part four choral-like setting. However, it is quite hard generalizing on this aspect even when there are elements one can point out. This is since dynamics can vary from one oratorio to the other. In the case of the Hallelujah chorus, there is no key contrast since the piece is mostly along the fortissimo and forte lines. Similarly, the note duration has no contrast too. Tempo is somewhat constant throughout the chorus.
It is also possible to notice some sequences of sounds that create a linear aspect in the hallelujah chorus. This is the melody of the chorus, and one can hear that it is being moved around from section to section. There are four different themes, and all of these them are contrasted. Each of the themes produces different sounds. There are sopranos, tenors and basses. For the hallelujah chorus, in the first place, it is the sopranos that are heard. After that, one can hear the tenors and basses and lastly the altos and tenors.
In conclusion, texture and melody can be attributed to the chorus' power and magnificence. Handel exhibits grand inspiration in this composition. The texture and the melody combined creates a contrast that in general help in making the piece interesting and exciting to listen to. Despite premiering a long time ago, this magnificent chorus is still fresh like it was composed yesterday.
Landgraf, A., & Vickers, D. (2009). The Cambridge Handel Encyclopedia. Cambridge University Press.
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