Anthem 22 – Magnus Dominus

Welcome to Anthem 22 in my attempt to write a new choir anthem every week for a year. I’m Kevin Mulryne and I hope you will enjoy listening to my progress throughout 2024. Please do visit the website Anthem52.com, follow along on x.com – @realanthem52 or Instagram – @realanthem52 and send me a message to show@anthem52.com.

I hope you will notice a marked difference in the sound of the anthem this week. A strange confluence occured when I went looking for choir plugins that incorporated actual words, not just generic Ah or Oo sounds. Firstly, I found one almost immediately that looked great and secondly, it was on offer for 60% off! Thirdly, after some recent invoices of mine for audio editing work had been paid, I was in the position to just about afford the plugin. It’s called Hollywood Choirs by EastWest Sounds. The name is, perhaps, slightly off-putting as I’m not sure the Hollywood blockbuster style of choir would necessarily fit my anthems too well but, in fact, the plugin has a huge range of moods and modes. It’s highly configurable so there will inevitably be a steep learning curve for me, as they say, but, without doing any tweaks at all, the voices are much better than the previous choir plugins I have used.

However, the joy of the plugin is that you can indeed program it to sing words. It has a feature called ‘wordbuilder’ where you can type in words in English, phonetics or its own system called ‘votox’. The choir has been recorded singing many hundreds of sounds and the software is pre-programmed to blend these together to make recognisable words. It even has the capability to sing in a range of European languages including Latin.

I haven’t had time to work out exactly how to use the wordbuilder so I’ve had to just leave everything at the default settings, even the words it is using. So when you hear the anthem, it won’t be singing the right words but I hope you agree with me that it already sounds a lot more natural than my previous Logic Pro efforts. Clearly, I am not saying it is as good as a real choir but I think it will help me a lot to hear what the anthems could sound like if sung by humans.

An interesting complication to using this new software is that I had to write the parts out in separate lines, not the compressed score approach I have been used to using. What I realised when listening back to the anthem yesterday is that this has resulted in more freedom in my writing, particularly between the soprano and alto parts. There is a lot more swapping of pitches in this anthem – by which I mean the altos sing higher than the sopranos at times, due to the shapes of the vocal lines. I think this is positive and I’m seriously considering always writing like this in future. An unexpected bonus has sprung out of the constrictions of using a new plugin!

As for the anthem itself, I chose another of the psalms set for this week, xlviii (98). I only ended up using the first couple of verses and the last one.

Here are the words:


Words for Anthem 22:

Great is the Lord and highly to be praised :

in the city of our God, even upon his holy hill.

For this God is our God for ever and ever :

he shall be our guide unto death.

It ended up in C major after I had to lower the pitch and I threw in a key change to A major just to see what would happen. Interestingly, the change sounds more natural when performed by the Hollywood Choir than it did in the default Musescore sound. Perhaps that’s no surprise.

There is quite a lot of movement in all parts and I tried out delaying the resolution of cadences which gives in intriguing sound, I think.

I don’t think this anthem is particularly catchy or memorable but I like the overall sound and feel. I didn’t pay very much attention to things like consecutive 5ths – rather I just let the writing flow. When it came to considering dynamics, I’m not sure I got it right. On returning to the anthem in the future, I might even add a different section in the middle to provide more contrast. It is rather short and it could have stayed at the same volume throughout – hence the need for more contrast, perhaps.

In the Logic Pro version, I’ve once again messed up the dynamic range which is far too wide and necessitated messing about with the file once I exported it and put it in my podcast software and on the YouTube version. More time and attention needed there, definitely. However, I’m quite pleased with both the overall effect of the anthem and how it sounds via the new plugin.

Anyway, see what you think:

Well, what do you think? Let me know on X.com @realanthem52, Instagram @realanthem52, as a comment below or via email show@anthem52.com

I hope you will join me next week for a new episode (perhaps featuring my second interview – will I ever record another?) – and a new anthem – only 30 to go – but until then the question remains – will I make it to Anthem 52?


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