Looking for more music like British Sea Power's "Men Together Today"
February 4, 2009 9:28 AM   Subscribe

What kind of music is British Sea Power's Men Together Today (listen, 0:40), if any particular type? I want more but can't figure out what to search for. It's not Gregorian chant.

Men Together Today is a beautiful/haunting little interlude that kicks off an album of modern alternative music by British Sea Power that is not anything like it. It sounds like monks singing in a monastery. I thought it was Gregorian chant, and I've seen it described as that, but it really doesn't qualify as that given what I've read. Gregorian chant is a melody sung in unison, like this stuff. And it uses Latin words. This, on the other hand, is multi-part and uses harmonizing. And they aren't using words, just various forms of "ahhh". I love it but it's so tantalizingly short, and I haven't been able to find anything else quite like it.

The only thing I've found that's similar is a song from Iolet: Music from the World of Anathem as linked in a question here yesterday. But only track 3 - Proof Using Finite Projective Geometry. And I don't actually like that one all that much. Not nearly as rich and pleasing. But it's wordless and monk-y sounding at least.

I've seen it described as Gregorian-like, Gregorian-style men's choir, chant, operatic, men's chorus, male voice choir, a groaning choral blip, and "a lifeboat crew in full voice." The band described it as "the antidote to a football (soccer) chant." None of that is much help in searching.

Know of anything like it?
posted by Askr to Media & Arts (6 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Oh, while the stuff with ladies singing in the choir is also nice, in this case I'm specifically looking for the men-only kind with the deep voices in there.
posted by Askr at 9:34 AM on February 4, 2009

Organum? If BSP recorded that themselves then you'll probably have bother finding a CD of music exactly like it. Here is a similar example by Perotin of the Notre Dame School (another.) Similar melodies to this exist in Plainsong, but that's just one single melody. It might be worth looking through the medieval music category on Wikipedia. Note: I am no expert and have only dipped my little toe into this kind of music.
posted by fire&wings at 10:09 AM on February 4, 2009

Response by poster: Hey, you're onto something there fire&wings. Thanks! It's not as deep as I'd like but is heading in the right direction. I'll explore that category for more.
posted by Askr at 12:38 PM on February 4, 2009

Polyphony in the style of early English Church music (a liitle later than Organum and Palin Song) . It doesn't get better than Thomas Tallis' 40 part motet Spem in Allium (those are boys voices). You should also check out the East European, especially Georgian, male voice choirs.
posted by tallus at 12:41 PM on February 4, 2009

What you're hearing is a double choir: one group are doing a drone, which establishes the tonality; over that another group are singing a tune in harmony. The "crunchy" dissonances you're hearing are when the harmony lines cross within a whole or half tone of the notes of the drone.

tallus has it. You're either going to want to go to the medievals (in which case there will likely be high voices, women's or boys', in the choir) or you're going to want to go to Slavic polyphony. The Georgians have a long tradition of polyphony in both church and folk music, some of which involves singing over a drone; the Bulgarians love crunchy dissonances.

To get you started, here's some Slavonic chanting
a Georgian male voice choir
and a BBC piece on the London Bulgarian Choir, who've often performed with British Sea Power. (a quite good slow song starts at 4:43.)
posted by Pallas Athena at 4:06 PM on February 4, 2009

Check out Italian Treasury: The Trallaleri of Genoa, recorded by Alan Lomax in 1953. Genovese longshoremen singing in five-part polyphony!
posted by Etaoin Shrdlu at 3:02 AM on February 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

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