Dear 100 Hour Board,
During the Christmas season, my local classical station played Christmas music. It was great! There are so many wonderful carols from around the world. I particularly enjoyed the choir pieces. Sometimes they would play songs recorded by MoTab or the BYU choirs. I noticed that I could pick out a Mormon choir instantly, as readily as I could pick out a choir with boy sopranos. Why do you think Mormon choirs have such a distinct sound? How would you describe it? Why haven't others copied our sound, and why haven't we tried to sound more conventional?
-My Name Here
I know what you mean about choirs being recognizable. One time watching General Conference, I tuned in during the opening hymn so I missed the announcement of who the guest choir was. Because of their sound though, I was certain it was the BYU combined choir as opposed to any other local choir, and I was right.
The MoTab and the BYU choirs are quite distinctive. This is likely due to the fact that we only have a few people who've been directing those choirs for years, as well as only a few people who write the arrangements. That cultivates a fairly distinctive sound. Culturally, there's a certain style of music and singing that members generally like, which adds to the distinctiveness.
You're not the first to notice this. Ronald Reagan said, "No one sings the anthems of America quite like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir." On top of that, he dubbed the choir as "America's Choir." There aren't a lot of choirs out there that are trying to do what the MoTab does, and that sets them apart. It's their distinctiveness that gets them their recognition, so there's no reason to sound more like everybody else.