Before buying an arrangement for your choir, you want to know whether it is suited for the level of your group. On my website, the level of the arrangements is indicated on a scale from I (easy) to V (very hard). The same kind of scale is used by a number of well-known arrangers from the States.
How does this scale work? What does an arrangement of a certain level look like, and what does a choir have to possess to sing it? Let’s start at the extremes of the scale, at level I and V.
A choir of level I is singing the easiest music available. Arrangements for two or three parts are more suited than for four parts. In general, this kind of choir will sing only homophonic. The parts are simple and diatonic, without any chromatics. The harmonies are triads, because other harmonies will be too hard. Rhythmically, the singers will be able to perform a single syncopation, but more than a single syncopation will cause problems. Such a choir will tend to get flat quickly, so it’s wise to sing with accompaniment all of the time.
On the other side of the spectrum is a choir or vocal group of level V. In this group there are professional singers that are capable of singing from sight in a good way, singers that can sing chromatic parts with ease and any rhythm you might think of.
What does a choir in the middle of the scale, a choir of level III, look like? Such a choir is capable of singing five- or six-part arrangements and can handle non-homophonic parts. Such a choir loves to sing close harmony, thus chords including dissonants. Chromatics won’t be a big problem, as long as the chromatics are part of recognizable harmonies. Rhythmically, a couple of syncopations will be no problem. But when parts are rhythmically independent, it will take some practice to keep the music together. The singers know they should avoid getting flat, but they won’t always succeed in preventing it. This kind of choir will be loved on festivals, and sometimes even win prizes there.
Level II and IV
The two remaining levels fall in between the ones mentioned. A choir of level II is capable of singing four-part, but is most comfortable in homophonic arrangements. Chromatics are hard, but sometimes they are doable. Rhythmical parts with several syncopations will stay tough for the singers. Such a choir may sing chords with a single extension, as long as the function of the harmonies is clear.
The choir members in level IV will be the best amateur singers. The basses will keep any bass line without effort. Even the highest notes will be intonated well. The singers dare to sing anything. A lot of singers really know how to take care of a solo, but not all of them.
||Inexperienced singers||2 or 3-
||Singers with some
|4-part||A little chromatics||Triads with maybe one
||Experienced singers||5-part||Chromatics are possible||Chords with extensions||Independent rhythmical parts|
||De best amateur-
|6- to 8-
|Difficult jumps||Complex chords||Complex rhythms|