Nov 292014

In General Conference, October 2014, the Tabernacle Choir presented a lovely rendition of “If I Listen With My Heart,” arranged by associate director Ryan Murphy. Ryan has generously made the score available here so you can use it in your own choir. Here’s the performance from October:

This version is deceptively simple. A friend in the choir mentioned that because of the intervals and breath control, it was more difficult to learn than it appeared. You might want to schedule a couple of extra weeks to work on it. 🙂

Nov 172014

You know that amazing feeling when you actually manage to finish something? Not just sorta finish, with a few loose ends that you’ll get to… um… eventually. I mean really finish?

The last few scores and page updates for my Christmas album with Allyse Smith Taylor are DONE. Fertig. Terminado. Acabado. Gotowy. 完成した. (All translations provided by Google… so I might have missed.)

Not all the new things are huge this time, but since there are are several of them, I’ll just do them list-style. In addition to new recordings for each of these…

Yzma New YearDid I meet my self-imposed deadline for all of these? Nope. But done is done, any way you want to say it, and I feel like a party is in order.

Next up: The recent SATB rendition of “If I Listen With My Heart” done by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir during LDS General Conference, courtesy of associate director Ryan Murphy. This will have to wait until I recover from all this excessive celebration, so look for it after Thanksgiving.

*Just a note on the guitar chords: I generally don’t do guitar chords. I don’t play guitar, and every time I add guitar chords to a song, the guitarists I know tell me I’ve used the wrong form of the chord, or that they would have done it differently, or that I’ve put in something nonexistent or… or… or… It *is* true that you can express complex chords in different ways, and apparently the way I choose is the wrong way. Every. Time. For this song I’ve used the simplest possible form of each chord. If you guitarists out there want to write in something else, feel free. Just don’t tell me about it. 😉

Oct 312014

This is week three of the Christmas Music Deluge. I just realized (with a self-congratulatory smirk) that I have, so far, been able to meet my goal of one update per week until finished. We’ll see if that new leaf stays turned.

Todays additions:

In the Bleak Midwinter“–a new setting of the beautiful old traditional hymn, with words by Christina Rossetti and melody by Gustav Holst:

The arrangement is available for SSAA and SSATB. Ohhhhh this one was fun fun fun to arrange!


When the Son of God Was Born“–a new accompaniment and obbligato for Alto/Baritone duet.

Both of these settings have obbligatos contributed by the amazing April Moriarty.

As always, all these tracks may be downloaded free in 128kbps MP3 format from the individual song pages. If you want higher-quality files, or the CD (with it’s really Christmassy artwork!)…

The album containing these and other Christmas recordings is available from CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon, and all sorts of other places I can’t keep track of. It’s also available on CD, and through tomorrow, it’s on sale for $2.50 per copy.

Filed under “Look What I Found…” If you’d like to hear what the choral version of “When the Son of God Was Born” can sound like, here’s a gorgeous rendition in Polish by the Wyższobramski Chór Kameralny, directed by Piotr Sikora.

Next up: New accompaniments, and cello and violin obbligatos for the remaining tracks. And then… a long winter’s nap. 😉

One quick final note…I’ve noticed that SoundCloud’s players are behaving badly in older versions of MSIE. If you can’t see the players above, you may want to update your browser. Or try Chrome. 🙂

Oct 242014

In this latest installment of the Christmas Music Deluge, I’ve added a new arrangement of “Gesù Bambino,” (Pietro Yon/Frederick H. Martens) for Solo, SSA or SSATB choir.

I love the original dearly just the way it is, so in arranging it I tried to do something a little different. This arrangement is designed to be a bit more upbeat and sound a bit more modern. Here’s a recording from Allyse Smith Taylor’s Christmas album.
Available on CD: “On a Still and Starry Night” (All CDS)
Flute by Anne Lauritzen
Also new this time is a duet arrangement of “Born to Wear a Crown, with optional flute obbligato. Here’s Allyse’s duet with James Loynes.
Available on CD: “On a Still and Starry Night” (All CDS)
Flute by Anne Lauritzen
Until now, this song was available only for SATB or SSA. If you’d like to hear the choral, listen to this lovely recording I found of one of the Ogden Institute Choirs singing it a few years ago at a Church Music Festival. What a lovely performance!

The 128kbps audio files from Allyse’s album are available free on the individual song pages. You can get the high-bitrate files from CDBaby or iTunes. There is also an accompaniment tracks version available both from CDBaby or iTunes.

Also, until November 1, you can get the “On a Still and Starry Night” CD with vocals by Allyse Smith Taylor for $2.50 per copy.

Next up: “In the Bleak Midwinter” and… hmmm… well, I haven’t decided yet! Hopefully within the week again. (Did you notice I actually managed it this week? **pats self on back** 🙂 )

Oct 182014

And it’s only October! How does *that* happen? 😉

This year’s carol, “On a Still and Starry Night,” is available as an easy hymn-style one-pager, or as a vocal solo or SATB anthem, both with violin obbligato. There’s also a new vocal/flute duet, “The First Noel,” based on the piano solo I arranged years ago. (You see? I really do respond to requests. It just takes me a decade or two.)

On a Still and Starry Night CDBoth these songs and 11 others have been recorded by the lovely and talented Allyse Smith Taylor, and are available on a new CD titled “On a Still and Starry Night.”

As usual, you can download the 128kbps files free from the individual song pages, or get the high-bitrate files from CDBaby or iTunes. There is also an accompaniment tracks version available both from CDBaby or iTunes. (If you prefer, these also find their way onto Amazon… eventually.)

The album is also available on CD, and as a Merry Christmas from us to you, until November 1, you can get the “On a Still and Starry Night” CD with vocals by Allyse Smith Taylor for $2.50 per copy, plus shipping.

Here is “On a Still and Starry Night.”

Available on CD: “On a Still and Starry Night” (All CDS)
Violin by April Moriarty

And here is “The First Noel.”

Available on CD: “On a Still and Starry Night” (All CDS)
Flute by Anne Lauritzen

Next up, hopefully within the week, are arrangements of “Gesu, Bambino” and a duet setting of “Born to Wear a Crown.”

Oct 132014

The nice folks at a company I had not before heard of–Forte Notation software–contacted me and offered a copy of their Pro edition in exchange for a review here on the blog.

Of course, one cannot review notation software without something new to notate, so I concocted a short, simple little accompaniment for LDS Hymn #206, “Away in a Manger” or any similarly-harmonized version. This one-pager can be used to accompany a vocal or instrumental soloist, choir, congregation or whatever you please. The song page is found here. No recording is currently available.

I used Forte Notation to create the score and learned a few things about the software in the process. So, without further ado… **drum roll**

In General…

I get asked often about notation programs. Very often. If you are looking for a notation program, my advice is simple: try what’s out there, and get whatever fits your preferences and your budget best.

Forte software is a good candidate to try. It does what you expect it to do without trying to do too much. It produces pretty copy, and has a few bells and whistles to go with the inevitable irritations present in one form or another in all notation software.

If you’re interested in specifics, read on.

From Download to Print

Forte Notation Products

The Forte Notation line of products

Take a look around (that “en” means English. This is a German company–you can have the site auf Deutsch if you like) and you’ll find it clean, well laid out and easy to navigate.

That pretty much sums up the software as well.

Download and Installation

Download and installation are typically easy. The install screen begins with a “Welcome!” and ends, of course, with dire warnings about copying, etc. Notably this software can only be installed on one computer at a time (unlike some others that allow two installations per license, Finale for example), so if you have a desktop and a laptop for travel use, you’ll have to buy two copies.

There’s also an extension module, the “Forte Player,” that is included in the Premium edition, or available for $49 with any of the others.

Follow the on-screen prompts (watch it if you update Java or you’ll end up with the obnoxious “Ask” toolbar), hit run, enter your activation code, and you’re rolling.


Forte startup screen

The initial startup screen. Isn’t it a nice green?

The initial screen is a very striking green. Extra style points right there. 🙂

The program automatically updates (with your permission) at startup. This can be changed if you choose.

It also has an autoplay startup sound. Ugh. That was the very first thing I disabled. (Word to the wise: ditch the autoplay. It’s NEVER a good idea.)

First Use

My First Rule of New Software is this: poke around a bit before you read instruction manuals. You won’t understand them if you don’t, and if you’re lucky, you won’t need the instructions at all.

So I load a sample score and hit “Play” – no sound. So I click the Playback tab, then “Use VST”, assign Piano 1 to each staff and… hey presto! Sound. Playback follows the notes, turning them red, and automatically scrolls through the measures though you can also adjust these default behaviors.

Looking at the sample scores, all the individual elements look fine… but somehow the sample scores aren’t terribly pretty. As I find later, you can make your own scores look much, much better than ones included. (Another word to the wise: you might want to use your sample scores to show off the best your program can produce.)

A Score from Scratch

The score wizard is great. You can add all the elements you want in one place. Later on you’d want to use templates, but this is a good way to start. The elements you add are all editable later.

One possibly counter-intuitive thing is choosing a key signature. Listing the keys by letter name in circle of fifths order is fine and dandy for people who know about such things. If you’re music-theory challenged, this will be annoying. We’ll call it a learning opportunity.

Double click anything, and you get… options. Change font, add measures, change note durations, alter spacing, etc. etc. All sorts of good stuff.

You can use any of your installed fonts for text on scores. Size, style, etc., are all editable. Something I can’t figure out how to change is font leading–to me a few text elements look a little loose.

As soon as you get used to the terminology in the program, it’s pretty straightforward. You don’t add staves, you add “instruments.” Step entry is “Step Recording.” Things like that.

Forte's "ribbon menu"

Forte’s “ribbon menu.”

I like Forte’s ribbon menu. It puts the choices under each menu heading one click away instead of two. That doesn’t sound like much, but when you’re bleary-eyed at 3 a.m., trying to meet a deadline, every keystroke you can save counts.

Entering notes manually

I’m ready to make some music. The first thing I’ll do is enter a line of notes by hand. It’s not readily apparent how this is done, so I’ll make my first foray into the Help file.

The help function uses a very a typical setup, which is a good thing since it feels familiar. For the most part, they seem to have done a good job on the Help document, though there are a few places where you’re told to click something but not where that something is. (This is a pet peeve… if I’m supposed to click something, don’t make me hunt it down.) For example, “Select the “Notes” tab from the “Input” pallette.” The “Input” pallette is found on the “Home/Elements” menu, so why not mention that? Ah well, it’s something that I’d probably have know if I were more familiar with the program. But then, I wouldn’t need the help file. 😛

Mouse clicking notes into the score turns out to be very easy and smooth. Very intuitive.

Step Recording

Step Record is easy, accurate and fast. I really like the way this is implemented. Nice job, Forte! It’s found on the “Record” tab.

Realtime Recording

Okay, this isn’t quite fair, because I never use realtime recording for notation. It requires too much accuracy and makes you play like a robot. Why practice playing like a robot?

The realtime record function is easy to set up and use, so I give it a try, but as usual, I don’t play accurately enough to make it an effective option for me no matter how I quantize the input. So, the jury is out on realtime recording. It seems just as good as any other notation program’s realtime recording–but on this I’m no expert.

MIDI Imports

Now, on to my favorite way to notate music. I like to record my accompaniments into my sequencer without a metronome, using all the expression I can muster. I compose much more naturally that way, and since I’m a bit of a drama queen when it comes to piano accompaniments I HATE playing to a metronome. Even Finale’s Hyper-Scribe function doesn’t do it for me. After the accompaniment is recorded, I quantize the MIDI into strict rhythm and import it into my notation program. So I’ll try it that way…

I find this to be just as simple in Forte as in any other program I’ve used. There’s always going to be some cleanup to do, especially since you have to tell your program where to split between hands and there will be some overlap.


Forte will scan from printed music, with varying success. (All such functions have varying success, and you always have some cleanup to do.) It will also play back from scanned files. I personally don’t have much use for these functions, and I’ve found that they are often more work than simple manual entry, but many people find them handy.

Entering Lyrics

Entering lyrics is another impressively easy function. You move from one note to the next when you hit a space, hyphen or underscore. Melisma lines look great. Editing can be done in the score, or in the properties menu where you’ll find the text in a block.


Perfect, at least on this simple little one-pager.

Some Annoyances

Realistically, every program has them. Here are a few I ran into:

  • Changing meters in any number of measures in the middle of the project is likely to mess up your entire score, and it can’t be undone.
  • Graphic import is clunky and awkward to use.
  • As far as I can find, no cross staff notes.
  • Metronome markings can’t be moved, nor can you specify a range of tempos. You’ll have to use a text line if you want more than it gives you.
  • The “Loop” function in playback mode freezes the program for me… every time. So no looping for me. 🙁

Customer Service

To see just how good the company’s customer service is, I sent two e-mail requests for clarification of certain features, after checking to make sure they had not been discussed in the FAQ (yep, I read those) or on the message board (which doesn’t appear to get a lot of traffic).

The answers came in half a workday, almost simultaneously. One answer was perfect and told me what I needed to know. The second looked like a copy/paste based on some keyword/phrase and didn’t address the question asked. ***sigh***

Printing the Final Product

Forte Notation will print to any device you have installed as a printer, including PDF writers. It will also export to .jpg using various dpi settings.

Here’s what the printed files look like:

PDF     96dpi jpg     300dpi jpg     .fnf (Forte Notation–will only open in this program)

For comparison, here’s the same score as I would notate it in Personal Composer:

PDF     .pc (Personal Composer–will only open in this program)

How does it stack up?

Forte Notation is not going to give the likes of Finale or Sibelius much competition. Those programs have twice the bells and whistles. They’re also twice the price, so check the feature lists carefully if you’re in the market–you may not need all the extras, and if you won’t use them, you don’t need to pay for them.

Here are feature and price comparisons for Forte, Finale and Sibelius:

Feature comparison
Pricing: Pro: $229 Home: $99 Basic: $24 Forte Free: $0 (All are available for free trial. Academic pricing is available.)

Feature comparison
Pricing: Finale: $600 Print Music: $120 Songwriter: $50 Notepad: $0 (All are available for free trial. Academic pricing is available.)

Feature comparison
Pricing: Sibelius 7.5: $600 Sibelius First: $120 (Both available for free trial. Academic pricing is available.))

Will I Use It?

In this case, no. Here’s the deal breaker for me: though there is a free version, it will not transpose files created in other versions. My site users really do need this function, and since it’s not available, Forte won’t do for my own use. This is, admittedly, not a common requirement, but hey, it’s what I do. 🙂

Should You Try It?

If you’re looking for easy-to-use, intuitive software at a reasonable price, I’d say absolutely. Download the free trial version and see if the interface suits the way you work, the way you think and your pocketbook. If it does, this could be a good fit for you.

Sep 262014

…I came up with a Christmas Card Carol, alas, too late to post the score. So here it is as the first offering of the Christmas barrage that is about to begin. It’s called “Star of Wonder,” and it’s set for vocal solo only, with optional violin obbligato. The recording includes vocals by James Loynes, and violin by Sarah Crowther.

Here’s a YouTube video–just lyrics as the song goes along.

Be proud of me though… this year’s Christmas Card Carol is already finished, along with a couple of other new things. They’re part of an album I’m working on with Allyse Smith Taylor that will be out in a couple of weeks. 🙂

Aug 292014

‘Bout time eh? 🙂

I’ve been immersed in Christmas music for the past few months, working on a new album with Allyse Smith Taylor. There will be some old favorites as well as some new things on it. It should be ready in a month-ish… I hope… so in the meantime…

Here’s a song called “The Hands That First Held Mary’s Child” that I’ve just fallen in love with. Have a listen:

You can get the SATB here, among other places. There are other voicings available, including SSA and TTBB (They have a lovely sound file for this one).


Jul 032014

…a new compilation CD. That I finally finished. Hallelujah. It’s called “He is My Song,” and here’s a list of what’s on the disk, with links to the song pages and a description of the new material that’s been added:

Last but not least, the Personal Composer files are now done and posted for all the tracks included, so transpose to your heart’s content.

Here’s a playlist so you can listen to the whole thing if you’d like, and info on where to get the album or any part thereof:
Listen to this album…
Get this album…
…or any of its tracks using these links:

As always, free 128kbps downloads for most tracks are located on each song page.

There’s also an accompaniment tracks album available. Here’s the playlist and info for that one:
Listen to this album…
Get this album…
…or any of its tracks using these links:

As always, free 128kbps downloads for most tracks are located on each song page.

Happy Thursday! Have a lovely weekend.
Jun 162014

It didn’t quite seem fair to post this on Father’s Day because even though it’s about my dear old dad, it made me laugh at his expense, so I figured I’d save it for the day after.

I received an interesting e-mail from one of you awhile back, though maybe “amusing” would be a better word. My mother and I laughed over it until we cried. I tried to respond, but the e-mail address included bounced, so if this e-mail came from you, please know that you made my day… week… month… okay, I’m still laughing.

The e-mail as originally written (somewhat abridged) is the text in black. My thoughts as I read it are in red. Here goes:

Dear Sally,

My son and I were at the local Wal Mart on the pickle isle when we ran into the cutest old man. (Islands shaped like pickles… little old men wrinkled up like pickles… so far so good.)

He noticed my son and started talking to him about being a scout and lots of fun facts about scouting… (Stalker alert… stalker alert…)

…not to mention that if a wasp stings you it will emit a poison into you that will cause other wasps to sting you as well…(Whoa, that happened to my dad once. Wasps chased him around for weeks.)

We were having the most delightful conversation with this stranger when he asked me if I liked music. (Oh. No. Dire forebodings… cue the horror movie underscore. )

I said “I love music”!

Then he said, “go to this website, it’s my daughter’s, you won’t regret it”. (Seriously? Again? Why oh why didn’t I publish under a pseudonym?)

Out of courtesy I rustled around in my purse to get him a pen and paper to write it down for me. (Oh good. NOBODY can read dad’s handwriting. I’m safely anonymous.)

When he finished and I looked at what he had written down I immediately recognized it as your website. (Shoots down that theory. So… hopefully you thanked him and escaped while you had the chance?)

My jaw dropped and I looked at my son, who also knew who you were from me talking about you. I said to your dad in amazement, (oh don’t… don’t do it…) “Do you know who your daughter is?” (**sigh** Don’t say I didn’t warn you.)

All the while he just stood there beaming with pride (Aaaand here’s where fact turns to polite fiction… he just stood there? beaming? not talking? and I believe this?) as a dad naturally would… He just stood there and smiled and I was so grateful to be talking to your dad and to be able to tell him how much you had been a blessing in my life and you didn’t even know it.

We continued to talk a little more… (“We.” Meaning “he.” Yep.) He was so delightful. My son and I were very entertained (Meanwhile, mom was where? Undoubtedly waiting for him in the car.)

…and then he realized your mom had been out in the car waiting for him all of this time, which was quite awhile… (**facepalm**)

We said our goodbyes’ and he scurried off, forever leaving an impression on both my son and I. What a sweet man and a very proud father he was…

I cannot tell you how many times in his long life he has done this sort of thing.

Dad doesn’t “scurry” any more, but if you happen to run into a friendly, garrulous old man making his way slowly down the pickle aisle… if he happens to ask you if you like music… please remind him from me that his wife is waiting in the car.

And tell him I love him. 🙂

Jun 142014

If you’re a poet wanna-be like I am, here’s a great little resource called Rhymedesk. Very cool. screenshot

For your edification and amusement, here’s a screenshot, complete with part of a set of limericks based on a passage from “Lord of the Rings,” that I did for a college course. Yeah, yeah, comic verse isn’t my forte.


May 112014

I think that for this Mother’s Day (in the US at least) I could not do better than to re-post a poem written for me by my daughter Holly. Is there a mother in the world who wouldn’t melt at having such a thing written for her?

      Quite often I look at my babies,
      And notice the features we share.
      Could I choose just what they’d inherit
      This would be my sincerest prayer:

      To witness creation’s magic
      And the pain a brother hides
      To shed the tears of compassion
      Give them my mother’s eyes.

      To offer the lonely friendship
      To patiently fill life’s demands
      To gracefully carry their burdens
      Give them my mother’s hands

      That they may always speak kindly
      Sing praises to Him and rejoice
      Share truth and hope with all nations
      Give them my mother’s voice

      Let them accept, love and welcome
      Let them learn the great Master’s art
      Give them charity, courage and passion
      Give them my mother’s heart.

      (Holly DeFord Wilson, from “Only Fools Are Positive“)

    I’m thinking that with a few little tweaks, that sounds like next year’s Mother’s Day song. Ya think? 🙂

    Happy Mother’s Day!

May 052014

In the August 2010 edition of the Ensign magazine, a lovely hymn titled “Come Home” appeared. We used it in our ward choir, and I liked it well enough that when the composer, Michael Moody, suggested that I arrange it for choral anthem, I was thrilled at the prospect. Since Heather and I were working on a project at the time, I also arranged it for solo with equal-voice harmony, and we included it on the “Reaching for the Light” album.

Here’s the result:

The title is suggestive of music that might be appropriate for a funeral, and while the lyrics would certainly be suitable for that use, the broader message of the song is simply a warm invitation to each of us to return to our Heavenly Father, to live forever with Him as an eternal family.

Scores for the arrangements of “Come Home” are available for SATB choir or for solo with optional equal-voice harmony. There is also a separate score for the obbligatos.

Apr 072014

The last couple of projects I’ve worked on have dealt with the visual arts. Let me help you to understand the irony of this.



I drew an avocado once, for an art class in high school. It even somewhat resembled an avocado. I have been so proud of this achievement all my life that I often mention it with pride to my children, a couple of whom are visual artists who put my poor little avocado to shame. “The Avocado” has become a bit of a legend in the DeFord household, complete with those clandestine sympathetic behind-my-back glances that so plainly say, “Poor mom!”

So, needless to say, when these last projects rolled around I didn’t do the visuals–just the music. 🙂

One project came about when I was asked to speak at a nearby Stake’s Women’s Conference in March. At the conference, they were going to display some really outstanding paintings by a member of the stake, Megan Rieker. (Check out some of her art here. Take a look at her “Women of Inspiration” gallery… gorgeous stuff! I particularly love this one.) A couple of weeks before the conference, Meg and I had a chance to talk a bit, and found that … drum roll… I had been wishing for slides documenting a beautiful painting as it progressed, and that she had a beautiful painting that she had photographed in various stages from start to finish. Funny how these things work out.

The resulting project is this video featuring “The Hour Draws Nigh” by Megan Rieker, set to the song “The Painter’s Hand.”

(There’s also a version without vocals, and download information… check the song page. 🙂 )

The other project was an assignment from the LDS Church Music office, to arrange “I Am A Child of God” as background for a video to be shown during the 2014 General Women’s meeting. It presented a few interesting challenges: it was an 11th-hour sort of project, and needed to be done quickly; it was still in the planning stages, so there was no specific length, no specific voicings, no specifics at all, really!; and … well… spin it as I might, here was the real challenge… this beautiful children’s song has been arranged so many times by so many talented people that I was unsure whether or not I could come up with anything fresh. As it turned out, the video itself was so sweet it didn’t matter much what I did anyway!

David Zabriskie did the orchestration; the video footage features wonderful people from around the world. The sheet music is just piano and a melody line. For suggestions on how it might be used, see the “I Am a Child of God” song page.

So much better than avocados! 😉

Mar 262014

Sometimes I wonder why words on certain topics spring to mind and demand to be written into lyrics. In some cases, I never find out, but today was different.

The insistent topic du jour was “forgiving others.” This wasn’t a topic I had intended to approach. In general, I’m not an unforgiving person. I don’t hold grudges. I wish I could say this is a virtue, but alas, it’s mostly due to a poor memory.

“In such cases as these, a good memory is unpardonable.”
Elizabeth Bennett in “Pride and Prejudice”

Today the Lord wanted me to learn something–to make me see the subject in a new light. As I pondered and studied and wordsmithed (is that a word?) and followed bunny trails of thought, it was the bunny trails that led me to the enlightenment He intended me to find. Let me try to put into words the insights that came mostly through feelings:

Suppose my neighbor offends me. There is hurt done on many levels: the one offended, presumably the innocent party, hurts; the one offending suffers damage to his soul, i.e., hurts; and the Savior of us all bears the hurt for us both.

The scriptures tell us that the Savior has “borne our griefs and carried our afflictions…” That He suffered “the pains and the sicknesses of his people.” So when offense is given, or when offense is taken, the Savior has suffered for that offense. He has felt that offense. He has paid for that offense.

What if I then demand restitution and apology from my neighbor, instead of forgiving freely and without condition? Could it be that I am demanding payment beyond what my Savior has already given? Am I, in effect, saying that the sacrifice He offered is not enough? That I require my mortal “pound of flesh” in addition to the flesh and blood of Christ?

And if I remain angry and bitter, refusing to forgive, thereby causing damage to my own soul and perhaps giving pain to my neighbor, I add the weight of all this additional hurt to the already incomprehensible load the Savior has borne. In the worst extreme, if I then cast stones, however figuratively, at my neighbor (because, of course, he deserves it!), doesn’t the Savior feel those stones and carry that pain as well?

It may be difficult–perhaps nearly impossible–to forgive my neighbor for his own sake; maybe I don’t love myself well enough to forgive for the peace of my own soul; but given the choice, I would not add one tear to the tears my Savior wept, or one ounce to the load He carried, or one drop to the blood He shed.

What I might not be capable of doing for my neighbor or for myself, I can and will do for Him.

I hope that made some sense. On re-reading it, I find that the feelings were much more potent than my words, but words are all I have.

And that’s doubly true… the lyrics are still just a text with no tune, and still in the editing stages, so no new song yet. I should probably have waited for it to be finished before trying to express these thoughts, but I wanted to put them in writing while they were still fresh to drive the lesson home in my heart. Maybe someone out there needs it as well, and can be the happier for learning my lesson with me.

Happy Wednesday!

Feb 072014

This post is going to be boring, informational, boring, instructive, boring, hopefully helpful… and did I mention boring? Unless, of course, you want more detailed information on transposing scores using the personal composer demo. Which a lot of you do seem to want. Soooo… hold on to your seats, and away we go…

First, a couple of general notes:

  • To transpose a score, you will need to download the score in Personal Composer format. It has a .pc extension. (The following sentence is in all caps, bolded, italicized, hmmm… should I make it red? or lime green?… because it’s the number one problem people have in trying to transpose files.) YOU CANNOT TRANSPOSE PDF FILES. Except manually. Which is a pain.
  • Not all songs have Personal Composer files available yet. I am adding them… slowly. The problem is, of course, life. And the universe, and everything. There is so much content on this site that keeping it in shape is simply an ongoing task that will last as long as I do. I know of no one willing to undertake the task when I die (or am translated, if I give up Diet Coke), so I really do hope to finish in my lifetime. However, I beg for your patience since it really is a time-consuming task.
  • The Personal Composer demo works only on PCs, not on Macs. I am truly sorry this is so, but there it is. If you have only a Mac, it is possible (one might say “very likely”) that you have a friend with a PC who can help you out.

Okay… now that the basics are out of the way here are the details, step by step.

  1. Download the Personal Composer demo. The download is about 5.5 Mb
  2. Install the demo program on your PC. (Not on your Mac. It won’t work.)
  3. Download your chosen .pc file. (Not .pdf file. It won’t work.)
  4. Open the .pc file (if it doesn’t open automatically) by either double-clicking the file in your Windows Explorer, or by opening the Personal Composer program and using the file/open command.
  5. Click the “Staff” command — bottom row, left-most button.
  6. From the tool menu that appears, select “Key Signature” — middle button.
  7. Click on the staff at the beginning of the section you wish to transpose. If you are transposing the whole song, that would be measure 1. A menu full of options will appear.
  8. Choose the appropriate menu options. These will be unique to you, so I can’t specify what they’ll be.
  9. When you are sure you have the correct options selected, hit “Ok.”
  10. If the music contains key changes, they will be adjusted automatically.
  11. Print your transposition AND PROOF IT CAREFULLY BEFORE YOU CLOSE THE DEMO. You can’t save your work in the Personal Composer Demo (hey, it’s a demo!) so be sure your transposition works for you before you close the program.
  12. There may be some cosmetic issues with the score–accidentals don’t always have enough space, stems don’t always end up the right direction, cross-staff notes don’t always beam correctly, that sort of thing. If it bothers you, you can clean these up.
  13. That’s all folks!

I really sincerely hope this will be helpful to anyone trying to transpose this music, because there’s nothing more in the storage rooms of my disorganized brain that I can dig out to shed any further light on the process. It looks complicated, but it’s really not that bad, so give it a try. As much as I’d love to, I can’t do transpositions on demand. Sleep is too important to me. 🙂

Happy Transposing!

Jan 192014

Last May, this song happened: “Only Love.” Last May? Yeah, it really was that long ago.

I wrote this song in collaboration with Josh Weed, who has become one of my favorite people. Josh gives his take here on how we came to write it together. I’ll admit this collaboration was a leap of faith. I don’t do a lot of collaborations, and when I do, it’s usually not with total strangers whose musical ability is a total unknown. After several nudges from the Spirit though, I realized that if I ever wanted to sleep again I would have to listen and obey. So I did.

Josh found it odd and amusing; I found it odd and terrifying. Fortunately, the Lord knew precisely what He was doing. He always does, even when we don’t.

In retrospect, I’m glad I listened, even if I felt mildly insane for considering it. The Lord always has his reasons when He guides us into unknown paths, and in this case I can now clearly see some of those reasons. Undoubtedly not all of them. I learned a lot from Josh and his lovely wife Lolly, and I felt when we finished that we had said what the Lord wanted us to say.

One of the things Josh wanted to do when we finished was to host a vocal competition so we could hear others singing it, giving each rendition a unique character and voice of its own. And so, at last, the semi-finalists in the competition have been selected. (No, I wasn’t involved in the selection. I’m too soft. It would inevitably end in a tie. )

If you would like to weigh in on the voting, see Josh’s blog entry here. The poll is on the upper right sidebar, and voting ends tonight at midnight. I’ll be posting the top three here on the site so others can hear them too.

Happy Sunday!