Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sunday songbook concert, featuring me at the keyboard

The first seven selections on this playlist (featuring me at the cutting-edge Casio WK-3800) are from the book pictured above, which is my beat-up copy of the abridged version of 1865's  Worship in the School Room.  The really cool thing about this songbook? That it was intended for use in Freedmen's Schools!  I only recently found out the year of this collection, since mine is without a title page.  Thank you, Internet.

The seven selections are: Ives; Oh, Shall I Wear a Starless Crown; The Land Above; Shining Shore; Oliphant; We'll Not Give Up the Bible; and Radiance.  The longer titles are text titles, and the shorter are tune titles. All credits are composer credits.  Now you know.

The other selections--mainly 20th century pop hymns by such gospel wizards as Charles H. Gabriel and B.D. Ackley--are from a host of other hymnals and songbooks cluttering my bookshelves.  And there's a 17th-century chorale by (I think) Samuel Scheidt.  I'm mostly sure it's him, but it's from a photocopy, and I neglected to write down the composer's name.  But I'm very nearly on the cusp of being mostly positive it's a Samuel Scheidt arrangement.

And there's a hymnbook version of Pictures from Life's Other Side, attributed (words and tune) to Thoro Harris and copyrighted 1930.  Seeing as how 1) the tune goes back at least as far as the late 1800s, and 2) Smith's Sacred Singers had a huge hit with it in 1926, the 1930 copyright and the Harris credit are likely banana oil.  And, in fact, I followed it up with an 1896 version of Pictures credited (words and tune) to Chas. E. Baer.  Could it be the original?  Dunno.  Same text as Harris; different (but similar) tune.

These are all played straight from the songbooks, i.e. as written.  However, I was creative with the tone choices--hence, piano/organ combinations, tubas, banjo, guitar, flute, etc.   The most "authentic" renderings of these pieces would be vocal, of course, since they were all written for SATB (soprano, alto, tenor, bass).  Hymns as written make dynamite quartet and glee club selections, accompanied or otherwise.  Download today:  The Land Above

Oh, Shall I Wear a Starless Crown (T.E. Perkins)
The Land Above (Rev. Alfred Taylor)
Shining Shore (George W. Root, 1856)
Oliphant (Arr. Lowell Mason, 1832)
We'll Not Give Up the Bible
If Your Heart Keeps Right (B.D. Ackley, c. 1912)
The Way of the Cross Is the Way (Gabriel, 1917)
Ich dich hab ich gehoffet Herr (Samuel Scheidt?)
In the Light of Jesus' Smile (Gabriel, 1921)
My Master Was a Worker (Barnby, 1889)
How Firm a Foundation (Tune: Protection; Arr. R.M. McIntosh)
Pictures from Life's Other Side (Thoro Harris, 1930)
Pictures from Life's Other Side (Chas. E. Baer, 1896)
Sound the Battle Cry (Wm. F. Sherwin, 1869)

Lee Hartsfeld on his Casio WK-3800; multi-tracking done on Sonar X2 software; editing and effects on Magix Audio Cleaning Lab MX.


Aging Child said...

Lee, these all sound good so far (haven't listened to the full suite yet)... and they've got me wondering: is your equipment/programming flexible enough that you can reproduce how these old hymns would have sounded, say, played on the church organ back in the 1870s or so? And aside from some tinny-sounding cylinders, do we HAVE any truly clear idea exactly how the congregants would have heard them?

Thanks as always, good sir!

Kind regards,
A. Gene Childe

Lee Hartsfeld said...

Hmmm. No, I don't have anything that period-specific, unless we assume people were listening on a reed organ. (There's a good reed patch on here.) Another thing: In the late 1800s, a lot of churches had quartets to sing special numbers, and I imagine they sounded like the quartets we hear on cylinders and early 78s, even though some of these were studio creations.

I'm being creative with these. Though I'm sticking to the hymns as written, I'm tossing in banjos, tubas, etc. In fact, I'd better revise my essay--the part about "no arranging."