I’ve hammered out the rest of the little prologue: “Who is there who singeth so, Nowel?” That’s not as involved as it sounds, since it’s only two more measures. Still, in a very organic kind of way, I’m letting the music evolve. I have that tinkling opening motive and the descending thirds of the chorus to play with now, so that’s something, and I’ve added an upward run through all kinds of chromaticism.
Next, like tomorrow night, I have to work on a body for the thing: what are the outlines of the verse? It’s got to be solid enough to bear repeating for the four verses, and I’d like it to be recognizable, i.e., so that if I interpolate the “Nowel” sequence in between, the audience will hear it anew when it returns. Sounds like I’m working towards a rondo form here.
I found an NPR broadcast of the 2003 winners. Very pretty, and very typically “choral,” with all kinds of mellow blendings and suspensions. I’m sure we’ll hear similar kinds of things this year. I’m betting lots of starry music, and lots of lullabyes, so maybe mine will stand out as all kinds of different.