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Wienhorst: Sacred Music

]Click here to buy Wienhorst: Sacred Music from Amazon now. -- Richard Wienhorst's sacred music has a very contemporary, almost scary, yet inspiring sound. Richard was a weekend band musican, who sobered* up and decided to study music theory and composition. The "wicked" syncopations and dissonant harmonies he uses may well come in part from his early band musician years.

Wierhost came to love church music and later went on to become the chief instructor of musical composition at Valparaiso University. Although he sometimes forgot to shave, he was otherwise quite well prepared for his lectures and did a great job of introducting other wierd composers (besides himself) such as Karlheinz Stochausen. -- His setting of the Seven Last Words of Christ is quite popular in colleges and universities, but it too difficult for the average church choir. Wienhorst has said that his style is drawn from harmonies used by composers of the middle ages.

That may be true, but for sure, he introduces new elements, such as more elaborate syncopations and dissonances and sometimes strange endings, like, for example ending a movement on an "added 6th chord in the Eli section of the Seven Last Words. (The Seventh Word) "I kept trying to find another way, another chord to cadence on," he said quietly with a strong Midwest accent, "but the music just kept coming back to that chord -- the soprano line just kept coming back, insisting that it wanted to end on the 6th. There was no other way for me to end it." Wienhorst often likes to end a tune on a perfect 5th -- in the style of a lot of ancient music. Wienhost rarely cadences, or even uses a major triad. A perfect 5th (especially when sung) has a strange purity about it, perhaps because it fits so nicely into the overtone series.

Beause of his heavy use of 4ths, 5ths, and major seconds, some critics think his music has an Asian influence. "It's really funny," he said once, "...funny to read what musical theorists say about your music. The way they interprete it, the chord you use and so on. Often, I was not thinking in those musical terms at all when I was composing that music." "As a composer, you've got to keep growing," he once said informally to a group of music majors, while leaning on a bannister is the music building. "When you listen to music you wrote a year ago, you shouldn't really like it very much any more. Otherwise, that's a sign you're not growing and maturing as a composer."


NOTES:"sobered up " -- don't take me too seriously here. This meant as a friendly jibe at Professor Wienhorst.


Check out Wienhorst's "scary" but inspiring Sacred music at Amazon.

To learn more about music see also