Submitted by Stephanie Magaro
Repertoire and Resources Chair for Middle School Voices
Using William Blake’s 18th century poem, “Tyger” by Elaine Hagenberg is a perfect combination of old and new, familiar and unfamiliar, legato and staccato, and energy and intensity. Middle school voices could use either of the voicings available. A more advanced ensemble or junior high festival choir with changed voices would enjoy the SATB version. At the middle school level, the SA voicing could easily be used for a treble choir of any level, or with changed voices doubling at the octave. An emerging Baritone range would be perfect for the alto part down an octave, and a mid-voice change would sit well on the soprano part an octave lower. As many choirs are in an era of building back up, two part music gives singers the confidence and success they need. Much of the available two-part music that we typically see is too “young” for our teens who are desperate for meaning, depth, and inspiration right now. “Tyger” is contrary to that–musically and technically interesting, and with textual depth to grasp.
Elaine Hagenberg, also headlining at our summer conference in 2022, generously provides free score perusal and discussion guides on her website. There is plenty of room for learning and discussion as the students analyze a famous poem and work to personify the beast of the tiger through their performance of this piece, written in 2021.
Although you can find many different choral settings of this text, Hagenberg’s arrangement is unique and most fitting for middle school or a young high school level choir. It is fresh and new and with the accompanying materials on her website, it far surpasses other arrangements. She uses powerful unison parts to compliment the thrilling, programmatic piano accompaniment to depict the fierceness of the tiger. The mixed meter setting of the text is a challenge, however, one that middle school students will “buy into” due to the excitement of the rhythms of each phrase. In the middle section, a steep contrast with a legato section pulls the listener in as they beg the question, “Did he who made the Lamb make thee?” If you are looking for a set of songs, it would be a great addition to include Elaine’s setting of “The Lamb” which is written for SSA and would also be conducive to a treble choir or middle school choir with changing voices doubling on octaves.
A wonderful, engaging piece that is an even stronger choice because of Elaine Hagenberg’s generous resources available totally free through her website! What a gift of song and great teaching resources! And, an opportunity to thank her in person by signing up for the summer ACDA-PA conference at Messiah University! Her music is available for digital download or print copy through the GIA publisher website.
Perusal score: https://www.elainehagenberg.com/_files/ugd/26cb0c_b6ae589af2dd4295bd7a96e9a5bcbba5.pdf
Resources: https://www.elainehagenberg.com/tyger-satb or https://www.elainehagenberg.com/tyger-sa
Free Piano Accompaniment: https://soundcloud.com/elaine-hagenberg/tyger-piano-accompaniment
Free Discussion Guide Download: https://www.elainehagenberg.com/form-disc-guide-tyger