Monthly Archives: November 2008

Happy Holidays!

I know it’s been a long time since I’ve updated this blog.  I took a hiatus to recharge my batteries sometime during the summer/fall and I didn’t take the effort to update my blog.  I started tackling a couple of other new song ideas in the recent weeks but I don’t quite have anything ready for preview.  I’m finding that I am definitely a lot more prolific when I have a songwriting companion.  I guess that’s just the way I work.  Writing with someone else allows myself to think and compose out loud and get immediate feedback.  I guess I need that as additional motivation.   In any case, I guess I should start looking for a writing partner (e.g. Elise, if you ever decide to come back to California…).

Anyway, today’s post is my first example of arranging for four part SATB harmony.  Although much of the music core at the Y was classical choral theory, I’m wasn’t one one to usually write in that style.  Silent Night came about because the institute choir wanted something to sing for a last year’s fireside and I needed to work on my choral chops.  This explains why the piece itself is not too taxing. I kept things fairly straightforward to cater to the level of musicians in the choir.  Unfortunately, since I was accompanying the choir, I didn’t get a chance to hear whether the harmonies blended correctly.    I need to find a good choir to test the arrangement with and tweak any notes.  It sounds good in Sibelius (my notation software), but midi oohs and aahs aren’t very useful in helping me find me find any enunciation trouble spots.  If one of my readers wants to use the arrangement, let me know.  I’m curious for feedback.

A couple of my favorite spots:  The sus2 to sus4 chords to start out the piece.  The sus chords are scattered all throughout to give an ethereal sound.  I’ve always thought of Silent Night as being an international hymn of mystery (hehe), what with it’s Germanic origins. Contrast the tune with the happy bright melodies of Angles We Have Heard On High.  The sus2 and sus4 ‘s are meant modernize that choral aura a bit.

I enjoyed playing around with the repetition of the last line and making things a little different.  Sleep in heavenly peace becomes sleep, sleep, sleep in peace (measures 18-21).  There’s that essence of a baby’s lullaby in the original hymn, and I wanted to bring that out more.

The sus2 (accompaniment) and sus4 chord (choir) combination in measure 52.  The choir is supposed to just hit that chord and let it ring and reverberate around the room to give us pause at the spiritual wonder of the birth of our Savior.   And then measure 56 where the sopranos get to shine, like angels.  There the sopranos have to be careful or else it just turns into pure cheese.  But, if done right, it’s pretty.

The ending by the piano.  It’s peaceful.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the arrangement.  Constructive comments are much appreciated.  I’ll try and upload a recording of the accompaniment in the next week or so.  And, if I can kind some kind choir to let me record them, I’ll upload an mp3 of how everything sounds together.

Happy Holidays!


PDF: Silent Night – Arranged by Jared Ong