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A New Design for the Baha’i Choral Music Website

June 27, 2024, in Articles > Music, by

Back in 2016, we were thrilled to announce a new resource for sharing Baha’i Choral Music online. Now we’re delighted to learn that the site has been completely and beautifully revamped to make it infinitely more useful!

The completion of the final continental Baha’i House of Worship in Chile and the emergence of national and local Temples is bound to exponentially increase the need for Baha’i-inspired choral music. The updated Baha’i Choral Music site is designed to help burgeoning and existing choirs around the world find beautiful pieces to sing and for composers and choirs to share their own repertoire online, thereby making Baha’i-inspired choral music from around the world, in many languages and styles, available to everyone.

We recently caught up with Lorraine and Alan Manifold, the site managers, about what the new website offers:

Can you tell us why you think this site is needed and what is available on it?

Lorraine: We hope that this depository of Baha’i-inspired choral music will provide both emerging and established choirs with music that they can learn and sing in a Baha’i Temple or in their local communities. Abdu’l-Baha wrote, “Music is regarded as a praiseworthy science at the Threshold of the Almighty, so that thou mayest chant verses at large gatherings and congregations in a most wondrous melody and raise such hymns of praise at the Mashriqu’l-Adhkar to enrapture the Concourse on High.” A letter on behalf of the Guardian stated, “Shoghi Effendi would urge that choir singing by men, women and children be encouraged in the auditorium…” With that sort of encouragement, there is no doubt that Baha’i choirs will flourish for centuries to come.

Choirs can supplement their current repertoire with songs from this ever-growing online collection. For the vast majority of the songs, the score is available for immediate download. Some also have audio files that allow people to get an idea of what the songs are like, or even “teaching tracks” with each part recorded separately to help choir members learn them quickly.

What is new in the redesigned site?

Alan: We have added a number of new features and lots of new songs. At the end of 2023, we had approximately 650 songs listed, but we now have over 1000, with more being added as they become available. There are songs in 45 languages, and from more than 300 composers.

The revamped site allows “filtering”–limiting what songs are displayed by specific criteria–and filters can be set on voicing or language. The “voicing” of a song, such as “SATB” for soprano, alto, tenor, bass, “SSA” for two soprano parts and one alto part, or “Round”, gives choirs the information they need to select songs that match their membership. While most of the songs are in English, the site has a good representation of songs in Arabic, Spanish, German, Persian, French, and Hindi, with a smattering of songs in other languages. The site now also lists the source of the text, for example if they come from the words of Baha’u’llah, Abdu’l-Baha, or the Bab–which can help when selecting repertoire for a specific commemoration–as well as dates of composition where known.

It’s also easy to click on a composer’s or arranger’s name to get all the information we have about that composer, along with a list of the compositions that we have from them on the site. From there, you can click on an individual song to see the full information about it and to download whatever files are available.

The biggest change is the ability for composers to upload songs to the database themselves. A submission form permits composers to identify themselves, to fill in information about the songs they’ve written, then to upload scores and audio files for new songs. We review these and they get them added to the site as soon as possible.

All of that sounds really exciting! I’m sure Baha’i choirs around the world will be able to benefit from this database. What are your hopes and plans for the future?

Alan: The site will become even more useful as more songs are added to it, so we want to encourage composers and choirs everywhere to take a look at the site and add any songs that aren’t already present. Click on the Submit Songs tab and follow the instructions. We love sheet music in PDF format, but are also happy to get individual tracks for each voice part of a song, as not everyone reads sheet music.

Making the score and parts available for free download isn’t the only option. Composers who sell their music or prefer to have people contact them directly can submit a link to purchase the music or an email address or contact form. If there’s a composer who isn’t comfortable with technology or one who has passed away, someone else can submit songs on their behalf (with appropriate permission, of course).

Lorraine: We’ve passed the milestone of 1000 songs and hope to grow quickly to 1200 and more, but we need help to accomplish that. We’d like composers and choirs to look at their repertoire and add even a few songs to the site. Do you know of songs in different languages or in a language where we only have one or two so far? Do you have songs that have been sung in any of the new (or old) Temples? Can you give us additional information about any of the songs we have already listed? Do you know of Baha’i composers that are not yet listed on the site or more information about the composers already listed? Let us know about any of these things. In addition to the new Submit Songs page, we have a Contact Us form where you can report any additional information that we don’t already have, give us a head’s up if the site isn’t cooperating with you, suggest new features, or ask us any questions.

Of course, we hope the site will be helpful for choirs immediately, but we also see this collection as a source of detailed information for future historians about the emergence of Baha’i-inspired choral music. The more complete and well-rounded the collection, the more perfect will be the picture that future researchers can paint of this aspect of Baha’i history.

Thank you so much, Alan and Lorraine, for taking the time to share this with us!

Be sure to check out the redesigned!

Posted by

Sonjel Vreeland

In her innermost heart, Sonjel is a stay-at-home parent and a bookworm with a maxed out library card but professionally she is a museologist with a background in English Literature. She currently lives on Prince Edward Island, an isle in the shape of a smile on the eastern Canadian coast. Sonjel is a writer who loves to listen to jazz when she's driving at night.
Sonjel Vreeland

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