Dec 302013

Bauman album cover
A couple of weeks ago this lovely CD showed up in my mailbox. It came to me because three of my arrangements are included on it: “Be Still My Soul,” “I Need Thee Every Hour,” and “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing.”

The artist on this disk is Sara Noel Bauman, an extremely talented violinist, who took each of those arrangements (as well as eight other selections, including two of my personal favorites, “Bring Him Home” from Les Miserables and “Clair de Lune”) and made them her own. Sara is currently concertmaster of BYU’s Chamber Orchestra, and as you listen to the music on this album you can see why. Her interpretations are flawlessly executed, but more importantly, they are simply beautiful.

Here’s her take on “Be Still, My Soul”:

And here is “I Need Thee Every Hour”:

Sara is using the proceeds from the sale of this album to fund a future Chamber Orchestra trip, and in charitable support of education for underprivileged children. Purchase this album at This is one you’ll listen to over and over.

Dec 032013

Well, not exactly silent, but definitely a treat.

Several years ago, my brother learned American Sign Language after a surgery damaged his vocal cords and he could no longer speak. The voice loss, fortunately, lasted only a couple of years, but his love for ASL was permanent. His love for the language–though not his proficiency!–rubbed off on me. I think ASL (and it’s counterparts in other countries) renders some of the most beautiful and touching musical performances I have ever seen.

About a month ago, Susan Layton, an actress and ASL performer, contacted me for permission to use my arrangement of “Silent Night” in a video she was producing. I was delighted to agree, and the finished video is just too beautiful keep to myself. She pulled together lovely vocals (performed by Stacie Wiese, accompanied by Sarah Spangler), a sweet concept, and a touching, artistic interpretation. Here’s the result:

What a beautiful performance. Thank you Susan!

Dec 012013

Swirly Christmas TreeOne of the greatest things about self-publishing is that you can write Christmas music any time you like. For example, during the Christmas season.

One of the worst things about self-publishing is that you tend to write Christmas music at the wrong time of year to be useful. For example, during the Christmas season.

Case in point: Here’s a new Christmas piece, titled “A Holy Child is Born,” for vocal solo (with optional harmony for the third verse) and violin obbligato. In this track, the vocals AND the violin are provided by my wonderful friend, Sarah Crowther. Needless to say, she didn’t do both at once.

The lyrics to this one are unusual for me. I tend to write in full sentences–with (*gasp*) occasional run-on sentences thrown in for good measure. This particular song contains a lot of fragments–short phrases that I used to try to describe the picture of that first Christmas as I was seeing it with my mind’s eye.

There are a couple more Christmas things floating around in my head that will probably show up here in the next week or two, just in time to be of no practical use until next year. I should put up the tree, flock my windows and bake sugar cookies in July and see if it motivates me to produce Christmas music any earlier. Hmmmm… since the thought of that is making me grin, maybe I will. ๐Ÿ™‚

Oh… I’ve been meaning to mention this for awhile, so this is as good a time as any. One of the questions that pops up quite often about site content is, “Why is this vocal demo in a different key than the score?”

The answer lies in the way the vocal demos are produced. I write a song and send it off to a vocalist, and then the conversation tends to go like this:

Seven Sharps et alVocalist: Can I have this 3 semitones lower?
Me: Um, sure, but that puts the last verse in 7 sharps, and every pianist in the world is going to hate me.
Vocalist: Oh, no problem.
Me: Right.

So I change the key, and the vocalist records the demo beeeautifully and I am thankful that I caved. But alas, when I go to publish the score, I proof it at the piano and realize that yes, every pianist in the world is going to hate me. And since I truly cannot brave the wrath of every pianist in the world, I publish the score in the original key.

If, knowing this, you want the score in the key used in the demo track regardless of its billion sharps or flats, it’s because you have to brave the wrath of only one pianist. In this case, just download the .pc file (assuming it’s available) and transpose to your heart’s content. When I hear the explosion from over your way, I will plug my ears and smile in smug satisfaction, knowing I did my best and that this meltdown is, for once, not my fault.

Happy December!