Creating Inspiring Descants for Choir, Organ or Instruments

Joyce Shupe Kull

Monday, June 20, 8 AM
Meeting Room 335.B-C

This workshop will include techniques for creating effective hymn descants for choir, organ or instruments.

Who has not wanted to add an uplifting descant on the final verse of a hymn, and looked in vain for the right setting? When writing original descants, one must carefully check for public domain hymns—and there are quite a few—or ask permission (which means planning ahead). Although we cannot all be David Willcocks, most can create original descants that add interest to a final stanza, illuminate the words, help the congregation sing better, or provide a festive touch, perhaps with a trumpet.

Participants will examine examples of choral, instrumental and organ descants, identifying strong features, such as rhythmic and contrapuntal interest, while avoiding weaknesses, including poor melodic lines. The advantages of each medium as well as the appropriate uses of descants will be discussed. Attendees will receive a summary of techniques for writing descants, plus suggested hymns and resources.

Former AGO Councillor for Education, Joyce Shupe Kull, FAGO, ChM, DMA, believes in empowering people to be creative in their services for the spiritual benefit of the congregation. She has presented workshops on Creative Service Playing for local chapters and national conventions, and she has helped to prepare over 49 AGO Certification candidates. A recognized Bach performer and scholar, she has been active in both the Denver and Boulder Bach Festivals. She is also a member of the Anglican Association of Musicians (AAM). After serving churches throughout the U.S. as Director of Music and Organist, including interim Director of Music and Organist at Saint John’s Cathedral, Denver (2003-2004), Dr. Kull is devoting her time to recording and composition, as well as preparing her pedagogical materials for distribution. 

You can download a copy of the workshop handout here.