Sunday, December 29, 2013

Sunday morning sounds: Amazing Grace (Tune: Greenville) and The Star of Bethlehem, redone.

The now-famous hymn Amazing Grace showed up in 19th-century tunebooks and hymnbooks joined to a variety of melodies. My copy of Harmonia Sacra (Tenth edition, 1860) uses the tune Greenville, with the final phrase of each verse repeated in a four-measure refrain (with new melodic material).  AABA form, long before Broadway and pop songs of the 1910s and 1920s:



As printed, this is a little tough to play, because the tenor is placed topside and notated an octave higher. This puts the three parts out of order. To make it easier for me to combine the parts as a keyboard solo, I redid the notation.  The tenor is now in its "proper" place:

 

 Same thing with The Star of Bethelehem--tenor on top, one octave up: 


As before, I put the three parts in the right order on two staves:

 

I have no idea what happened to my text up there. Anyway, now you will hear the two tunes on my Casio WK-3800, with multi-tracking. (All me.) Perfect Sunday morning music (said the presenter):

CLICK HERE TO HEAR: Amazing Grace (Greenville); Star of Bethlehem.

Amazing Grace (Greenville)--Harmonia Sacra, 1860.
The Star of Bethlehem--Harmonia Sacra, 1860.

Me, on the Casio WK-3800, with engineering assist from Sonar X2 and Magix.


Lee


Lee

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas 2013!!



Fourteen carols, hymns, and Christmas songs played by me from a group of 19th-century hymnals, sacred tunebooks, and Sunday School song collections--not the kind of holiday stuff you'll hear at the mall or supermarket, and thank God for that. The books sitting on my Casio WK-3800 (above) are (L-R) Asa Hull's The Casket of Sunday-School Melodies (1869), Harmonia Sacra (1860), and L.O. Emerson's Merry Chimes (1865).  What fun I had deciphering 19th-century music printing (both round and "shape(d)" notes), but when work is this fun, it's not work.  It's fun work, not "work work."  If you know what I mean mean.  You do do?

The Harmonia Sacra tunes are the really Anglo-folk-sounding ones of the bunch--The Star of Bethlehem, The Star in the East, and Joy to the World.  They sound folk because of open fifths, parallel perfect intervals, and partly because they're in three, rather than the traditional four, parts.  JTTW uses the now-standard tune, Antioch, but its folksy setting--"incorrect" harmonies and all--makes it sound pretty different, at least to these ears.  Owing to my orchestration (tone choices) on the first two titles, you'll swear you're hearing a Ken Burns civil war documentary soundtrack.  Right period, anyway.

All of these are me, "live" on my Casio WK-380, multi-tracked with Cakewalk Sonar X2 and edited/sound-shaped by Magix Audio Cleaning Lab MX. You'll be hearing me separately recorded six or seven times.  Just what you always wanted for Christmas.


CLICK HERE TO HEAR:  Merry Christmas 2013!

The Sleigh Ride (J.C. Johnson, Merry Chimes, 1865)
A Happy New Year (The Casket, Asa Hull, 1865)
The Star of Bethlehem (Harmonia Sacra, 1860)
O Morning Star, How Fair and Bright (Nicolai, Arr. Bach)
Come, All Ye Shepherds
Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates (Anon., 18th cent.)
From Heaven Above (Martin Luther, 1539)
Hark the Glad Sound (Haweis, 1792)
Christmas Time Is Come Again (The Academy Song-Book, 1898)
"Twas in the Moon of Wintertime
Christmas Carol (R.M. McIntosh, Good News, 1876)
Star in the East (Harmonia Sacra, 1860)
Joy to the World (Antioch; Harmonica Sacra, 1860)
The Christmas Tree (The Casket, Asa Hull, 1865)

Lee



Thursday, December 19, 2013

Merry Mess-mas!



I refer to a Christmas--er, to a season/year-end event/holiday/Soltice/Day--filled with tension and stuff happening.  Our cat Cookie has a nose tumor, and his surgery just ended (he's doing oaky); our bathroom is being remodeled with the addition of a walk-in shower for Bev; new carpet is coming; a new bed is set to arrive; a pest-control outfit is trying to figure out what kind of critters are running around in our ceilings; a painter is coming; I have a bad sinus infection (ouch!!); and the holiday/year-end event/Solstice/holiday/Day formerly known as Christmas is just around the corner.  But are we stressed?  No, not at all.

I mean, AIEEEEEE!!!!

So, in the event I don't get to wish everyone a Merry Day/Solstice/Year-End Event/Toyotathon/Day/Saturnalia/FFRF-mas, etc., then consider this that.  ("This that?")  Whatever I just typed.

Did I mention, AIEEEEEE??


Lee

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Attack of the advertising track-downer thingies

So... Bev bought me Magix composing software for Nothing-to-do-with-religion-Mas, and so, naturally, ads for that software are popping up everywhere I cyber-travel, including on this blog. As an advertising tactic, how is that supposed to work? I mean, we already bought the product. Hello.

Count me as an advertising-bot skeptic.  That is, I think they function much more as an advertising concept than an advertising reality.  To wit, how many people buy (and re-buy) stuff they just bought?  How many people see an ad for purses/boats/cars/electronics and say, "I must have that, on top of the 10,000 other examples I've bought this week!"?  Tons of money must go into advertising bot technology, and I have to wonder if, in the cyber age, our culture's money, money, money attitude will do the Internet much good. The religion of capitalism--one that we're indoctrinated in from age 0--is that technological advancement goes hand in hand with the quest for profit (and vice versa).  What if that relationship is, in fact, flipped when we're talking about cyberspace?

Anyway, I'm not interested in buying the program Bev just got for me, but thanks anyway, Magix, and keep up the brilliant advertising scheme.


Lee

Thursday, December 12, 2013

What'chu lookin' at?



Sarge wants to know.  Sarge's full name is Sergeant Stripes (named by her former owner), and she's not quite a sarge, despite the stripes.  More like a petite-pawed Daddy's Girl diva.  And we love her profusely, diva or no.

She's also a messy eater, but don't tell anyone.  Except me, her cleaner-upper-after.

Sarge sent me to announce that my blog will survive (yay!) but with a format change.  A considerable change in format, I'm afraid.  No more vinyl and shellac ripping.  Sad, but true.  My reasons for doing so are too many (and too complicated) to list, but suffice it to say I no longer have the time.  And that's the truth, in spades.  As Bev gets elder, my elder care duties increase--the free time I once enjoyed is no longer available, and this blog has always been time-intensive, due in part to my fanatical devotion to sound editing. And, since I put up a lot of stuff, people expect a lot of stuff (and many expect past "links" to stay unbroken), and it's all my fault.  That is to say, perhaps I've promised a level of output that I can't realistically sustain (minus a staff).  I should have stuck to my original plan of a few tracks per week, but I didn't.  The thing is, when I started blogging in 2005, I had ZERO idea that my past, archived posts would be sitting out there, prompting "Why is the link broken?" comments.  I just jumped into music blogging with both feet, not knowing what to expect.  I remember how stunned I was when I first put up a site counter and discovered how much traffic I was getting.  For all I knew, no one was coming here.  Not.

Anyway, lots of great experiences here.  For one thing, it's great to get noticed in the blogosphere, given the considerable odds against same.  I was even in the Top 40 most visited blog posts back in 2006--briefly, but for a few hours.  I was rubbing shoulders with Crooks and Liars, Michelle Malkin (glegh!), and others.  Just as quickly, I returned to being a regular blog, but what a moment!  And it's been a joy to find that the stuff I put up is stuff people want to hear--and, in some cases, keep.  Especially after my message board experiences, in which my musical interests were met with "Is this guy nuts?" silence, mostly.

Music blogging has been fun and challenging, and I wish I could keep it up.  But with less free time, with a more rabid copyright-cop effort (1950 Merv Griffin Christmas sides MUST be protected from sharing between we cyber-rabble, you understand), and the awkwardness of thousands of "broken" links hanging around like silent ghosts in cyberspace, the writing is on the LP jacket.  I mean, the wall.  But it's been fun.  A million thanks to those who have taken the journey with me (how sappy can I get?), and I hope you'll consider staying on with the revamped MYPWHAE.  I will explain....

The revamped MYPWHAE (and you can tell it's revamped on account of the dropped ( )'s) will feature me playing my own music, i.e. pieces composed by me, as well as hymns, old songs, etc.  In short, an All Lee Blog.  (Notice how I'm avoiding the word "vanity.")  If that's your cup o' Lee, I mean, Joe, I mean, tea, then... stick around.  But I suspect a blog of Lee Music is going to attract, and retain, somewhat fewer followers and visitors than the MY(P)WHAE of old.  Just a guess.

Thanks, all.  And you may have noticed that few archived posts remain.   That's because I deleted them.  Funny--I thought this would be a week-long task, what with 2000+ posts, but I did it in one sitting.  Blogger makes it pretty easy, really.  Deleting the blog would have been easier, but you don't get to keep a blog you've deleted.  So I opted for cleaning out the archives.

Again, a much better option than having dead posts sit around, confusing anyone who stumbles upon them.  And understandably.  So, stick around if you like cat photos and Lee playing hymns, songs, and/or his own compositions (Christmas at Halloween, Halloween in Space, Godzilla Suite, Fiscal Cliff Suite, various preludes, offertories, and mini-fugues, etc.).  The MY(P)WHAE of old, however, is no more.  I write this with a mixture of regret and relief.  I loved it, but minus a staff (and, God knows, a budget!), I really can't do this anymore.  This aging Boomer thanks you for your support.  Those who choose to take off, I'll hate you forever, but otherwise no hard feelings.  (:  Just kidding, just kidding.

Your humble cyber-servant,

Lee

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Christmas Concert, 2013 (Introducing, "Have a P.D. Christmas")




A public domain Christmas concert, featuring your favorite blogger/musician, me.  The first zip contains two versions of my new song, Have a P.D. Christmas--one with a vocal (me), the other without.  Yes, you get to hear me sing.

The words:

Have a P.D. Christmas,
Stay in the public domain.
Don't think, because the stuff you post is old, that they'll stay away.

Have a public domain Christmas,
Be careful of what you're hosting.
Or Santa Cop will put a stop
To your Christmas posting.

Lee Hartsfeld, 2013


(Copyright notice: Anyone swiping these brilliant lyrics without permission will be lashed repeatedly with a wet noodle.  Copyright valid throughout time and space.)

Have a P.D. Christmas (Hartsfeld)--Lee Hartsfeld

My only excuse is that I was working fast.  I recorded from a scribbled semi-arrangement, laying down piano, jazz organ, and alto sax tracks.  I ad-libbed a bass line to give things more movement, and I managed to get two (combined) vocal tracks with my ultra-cheap microphone, a microphone that nearly refused to work with my Roland Duo-Capture.  I used to have a lovely, high-quality Radio Shack mic, but I left it out where one or more of the male cats was able to "mark" it--so, into the trash it went.  Cat pee goes badly with just about everything, especially electronics.

The tones are from my excellent Casio WK-3800, and the multi-tracking was accomplished on my Sonar X-2 program.  Then edited and echoized on Magix.  Yes, that was.  A sentence fragment.

The second zip contains fourteen Christmas hymns, carols, and pop numbers.  Two are repeats--Santa Claus (Up on the Housetop), and The One Horse Open Sleigh, which has received more than 1500 downloads at Box.com (since Jan., 2011), making it my all-time champ in that regard.  It's the song as it originally existed; I'm playing it from an 1872 tunebook.  The music:


I think I came up with some cool instrumentations on these--a few sound like medium-sized chamber ensembles.  Laugh at Casio at your own peril, I say....

Christmas Carols, Hymns, Songs--Lee Hartsfeld, Casio WK-3800.

Let the Earth Now Praise the Lord
God Is Working His Purpose Out (Kingham)
Christ Is Born in Bethlehem
Herr Jesu Christ, wahr Mensch und Gott (Zachau)
Christians, Awake! (Wainwright)
The One Horse Open Sleigh (James Pierpont)
Santa Claus (S.S. Myers)
Come Hither, Ye Children
Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne (Matthews)
On the Night When Jesus Came (Polish carol)
Today the Virgin Has Borne a Child (Swedish carol--Middle Ages)
On Jordan's Banks 
Come Thou Precious Ransom Come
Christ Is Born of Maiden Fair (Dr. Gauntlet)

Played by Lee Hartsfeld, Casio WK-3800

These zips should survive.  After all, there's no 1950 Merv in the bunch.  No 30- and 40-year-old singles no one ever heard of, etc.

There's something I wanted to add to my essay, but I can't remember what.  It'll probably pop back in my head about 4:30 am or so.


Lee


Saturday, December 07, 2013

Public-domain Christmas concert

Later today... a public-domain Christmas concert, featuring your blogger.

Stay tuned.



Lee