- ‘Tis the Season
December 1, 2013
One 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.
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:Vocalist: 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.
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.
- God Will Provide a Lamb; and a cantata finally finished
October 12, 2013Last night was a landmark for me… I actually finished something. Something big. And complicated. And boy am I patting myself on the back!
The Praise to the Lord Cantata page has been a placeholder for (oh my… **blushes**…) two years(!) while I struggled to keep up with life. Last night I finished formatting the last score and converting the last file. It’s finally available in its entirety. That means…
The SATB version of “Lying in a Manger” is also available. Many of you have written asking me when it would be posted, and it’s finally ready for you. (BTW, I have begun to dread questions that contain the word “When…?” ) It’s actually SSATTBB… but you can omit the harmonies in the TTBB and SSA sections to make it a simpler SATB.
It also means that another of the songs from Heather’s lovely project, “Reaching for the Light,” is now uploaded and available. This song is also from the aforementioned cantata, and is called “God Will Provide a Lamb.”
Since I was old enough to read, I have been particularly affected by the story of Abraham when he was commanded to sacrifice his son, Isaac. I remember sitting on my mother’s bed with an old, old, old red-letter edition of the Bible, reading the story and looking at the full-page color plate that faced the scriptural page. (The picture was much less gentle than the one at the left!)
It wasn’t until much later that I recognized the event for what it was: a real-life “parable” about the sacrifice that Jesus Christ would make for them, and that He has made for me.
This song describes that real-life “parable.”
Here’s Heather Prusse singing the track, beautifully as usual:
The song is available in both SATB, and low- to medium-voice solo.
- For the earth is the Lord’s…
September 25, 2013
Ahhhhh…. the word conjures up so many wonderful associations…
…gathering as much family as you can cram into one house… roast turkey… sweet potato casserole… eating way too much… pumpkin pie with real whip cream… eating way too much… raucous family games…
In the US, our “Thanksgiving” holiday falls every year on the fourth Thursday of November. It’s a day we set aside for gratefully remembering our blessings and the heritage we’ve been given. Oh, and did I mention eating too much?
Late in October, my wonderful little LDS Institute choir here in Colorado Springs will present a concert to kick off our Thanksgiving season. This year, as the choir considered the theme for the evening, we landed on the idea of the amazing earth our Heavenly Father created for us, and all the wonders in the world around us.
We chose as our title song, “This Is My Father’s World,” a beautiful hymn composed at the turn of the 20th century. The words were written by Maltbie D. Babcock (1858-1901), and the poem was set to music by Franklin L. Sheppard (1852-1930). I have adapted the words and melody for this arrangement for SATB choir, and also for medium-low voice solo. The solo will easily transpose up a couple of steps for you higher voices; I’m not sure you’d want to lower it, as it will probably get lifeless and growly set any lower.
Here’s a rendition of the solo version, sung beautifully as usual by Mr. James Loynes:
Our choir spent about half an hour on it over the last two weeks, and we’re finding it pretty easy to learn. The SSAATTB split for a couple of chords on the last page is quite manageable, so don’t let its looks fool you. (The piano accompaniment does end in four sharps for the last verse and chorus, so consider the abilities of your accompanist. I wouldn’t want them all looking for me… )
- It’s a good thing they recycle those youth themes… ;)
August 6, 2013While my kids were teenagers, I guess I was more focused on youth themes and managed to get new music up early in the year. Since my kids are no longer in the youth program, it’s been getting later and later into each new year that I actually manage to get the music done and posted. Maybe it will help when the grandkids are teenagers.
However late it may be, the new song this time supports this year’s youth theme:“…stand ye in holy places and be not moved …”.
The song is titled “This is Holy Ground,” voiced for solo with optional harmony or SATB choir. An optional obbligato for oboe (or other C instrument) is included for use with both versions. The words are a reflection of this idea:“…holy places have more to do with
how one lives than where one lives…”(Harold B. Lee)
The demo recording is another of the tracks done for me by Heather Prusse:
Also new this time is a duet version of an older song supporting yet another youth theme, “Arise and Shine Forth.” The duet is sung by Heather Prusse and James Loynes:
Perhaps I’ll be more timely with this year’s youth theme. Since in the past some of the themes have been rotated and re-used, maybe it will be a repeat of one that’s been done before, and I can claim to have been several years early with an existing song. At any rate, I should get better when my oldest grandchild enters the youth program. (In only 7 more years??? That can’t be right.)
- I love it when a plan comes together.
July 25, 2013
For as long as I have known Heather Prusse and James Loynes, I have wanted… longed… ached… to get their voices together on a song or two. Finally, with this latest new song, we managed it. (They actually did another duet together as well… it will follow shortly.)
The new song is titled “He is My All,” for either medium-voice solo or for mezzo/baritone duet. Heather and James sang it together, though they were never in the same room at the same time, nor indeed even on the same continent. Ain’t technology grand?
Here’s the track. Enjoy!
My idea is that there is music in the air, music all around us, the world is full of it and you simply take as much as you require.
(Sir Edward Elgar, 1857-1934)