Category Archives: Music

Be Still My Soul

So about 5 years ago, I recorded an arrangement of Be Still My Soul that Jolie and I did.  When writing the arrangement, I wanted to create the sense of deep overwhelming emotions that occur throughout life’s journey.  And that, in the end, it is the atonement that allows us to overcome.  The hymn represents faith and knowledge that He understands all.

Anyway, through one thing or another I got busy and never really put it online.  I thought it’d be good to finally publish i.

Link: Be Still My Soul

Sheet Music: Be_Still_My_Soul_arranged_by_Jared Ong

I’ve also submitted it to a sheet music competition, so if you’re so inclined, feel free to click the link and vote for it.

 

Silent Night 2012

Apologies for such a long delay between posts. I’ve been working on various projects, including a Children’s education website, web commercial, and a primary children’s song. Just a lot of backlog here that I need to get around to posting.

My goal this holiday was to finally publish the initial version of Silent Night that Jolie and I worked on in 2010, which was a solo version of the SATB I wrote in 2008. Anyway, I finally got around to putting the Youtube video together and putting the mp3 on iTunes. I hope you guys like it.

You’ll notice that If you compare the audio in the Youtube video against the iTunes mp3 and/or the sheet music, you’ll find there are a few subtle changes. When I initially wrote it, I had the refrain at measures 52-55 repeat “Christ is Born.” This is what Jolie ended up singing. I later realized that it would be more powerful to have the piano play the second refrain. Same thing goes with measure 79.

Also, at measure 60, the final produced version has Jolie singing a 5th higher than notated (Bb instead of an Eb). This was a change I made after hearing her do the first run through. I actually had to call her back into the studio (i.e., my bedroom) and re-record that line. The sheet music also still shows an Eb.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, and I hope you enjoy the video.

Click to purchase in iTunes
Click for sheet music

Give Said the Little Stream SATB

Here is the finished version of Give Said the Little Stream, arranged in a choral setting.  Compared to the version posted below, this has a lot more four part harmony, especially in the 2nd half of the song. I decided to be nice to the basses and tenors and removed the high G.  The basses do have an Eb (over Middle C), but this line is doubled by the tenors so the basses can just lip sync as needed.  One of the areas that I really tightened up in this version were the added harmonies in the third verse.  The 4 part harmony creates a slightly different feel when compared to the solo version. The choir haromonies makes the piece sound a little bit more grand and there’s less of that “children’s song” feel that is present in the solo version.   Overall, though, I’m happy with how it turned out.  Now I just need to find a big enough choir to double check everything!

-Jared

PDF: Give Said The Little Stream SATB

A quick update

So, despite the lack of updates to this blog, I have been rather busy.  I’m finishing up a primary song with a friend that is shaping up nicely. The melody is pretty, the lyrics are meaningful.  I’ll try and record that soon so that you can take a listen.

I’ve received wonderful e-mails from people who wanted Give Said the Little Stream in various arrangements (e.g. add flute, add SATB, etc).  I most recently finished the SATB, it was a fun challenge to try and convert the song into a choral piece. I kind of wish that I had done a series of posts similar to the posts on “I Know It’s You.”  It would have been nice to record my thought process and reasoning during the composition process.  I did some of the arranging so late at night that I can’t remember why some of the chords ended up the way they are currently notated.  Such is the life of a composer I guess.

Anyway, this attachment is still very much a work in progress and will probably been changed a few times.  However, I’m guessing that a few people might be interested in this, so here it is.  I tried to duplicate the melody in the Soprano, Tenor, and Bass lines during the chorus to make it easier to sing.  I did do an evil thing and make the Bass sing a high G (hehe >:) but I will probably change this in a future revision.

As for recordings, I’m going to try and get Jolie in the studio this month so we can do some more upbeat arrangements.

Cheers,

J

PDF: Give Said The Little Stream SATB Combined

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

So, Jolie and I recorded a version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow during one of our evening recording sessions at my place.  Originally, it was supposed to be a submission on Taxi.com.  Unfortunately, the response was they wanted something a little bit more upbeat (think Israel Kamakawiwoʻole’s ukulele version).  Our version is slower in tempo and more ponderous.  I guess in my mind I was referencing Eva Cassidy’s amazing version during the composition process.  I felt I’d be happy coming even half as close to the atmosphere created by that seminal recording

We actually had a lot of fun recording the arrangement. It was one of those quick things you do in a half an hour where after taking a step back, you realize you were kind of lucky.  Since the recording was a spur of the moment thing, Jolie kind of just sung along while I experimented with different piano lines.  I took a different approach from some of my other arrangements by making the piano be more of a background component.  Block chords, low registers, empty spacing.  As Professor Simpson used to say, “a bed for the vocals to lie on.”  I wanted to capture all the things I heard in the song: mysteriousness, solemnity, joy, wonder.

The final product is just piano and vocal. It’s simple and uncomplicated.  But when I listen to it, I feel as if there’s soul to the music.

For those who would like the mp3, please visit iTunes:
http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/somewhere-over-rainbow-single/id444783190

Children’s Songs

One of my recent projects was to try my hand at writing a few children songs. This was actually harder than I thought. Make things simple, but not too simple. The structure needs to be long enough to be catchy, but short enough where the child doesn’t get lost in the music.

Luckily, my wife was a great sounding board for the various ideas I had. She’s very nice in providing negative feedback as gently as possible.

“That’s not bad honey.” (Translation: That’s very boring and it needs lots of work).

“I like that lyric honey.” (Translation: The rest of your lyrics are kind of generic and bland)

Another great thing about having my wife help critique is that she listens to this type of stuff all day. My coworkers would probably go crazy if they heard me listening to children songs at work all the time.

After the music past the wife test, I ran it by the 3 year old. If he likes singing it, this is a good sign. A few weeks ago we drove down to San Diego from Orange County, and I plugged in the Evo in the car stereo and played the songs for him. He seemed to like them well enough. A few days later, my wife told me he was running around the house singing them to himself. Woot!

Anyway, here are the two songs. The first one is called “I Can Be Just Like The Sun” and is supposed to get kids out the door, away from TV, and making new friends.  The second song is called “I’m A Rollercoaster”.  It’s pretty much about being a rollercoaster.

I Can Be Just Like The Sun
By Jared Ong

Verse
When the sun beams bright today
I know it’s his special way
He tells me “go out and play”
To make new friends with you

Chorus
I can be just like the sun
I can smile for everyone
He tells me “go out and play”
To make new friends with you

Verse
When the sun beams bright today
I know it’s his special way
He tells me “go out and play”
To make new friends with you

Chorus
I can be just like the sun
I can smile for everyone
He tells me “go out and play”
To make new friends with you

He tells me go “out and play”
To make new friends with you

MP3: I Can Be Just Like The Sun

I’m A Rollercoaster
By Jared Ong

Verse
All aboard
Climb on everyone
Here we go
Careful you hold on

Up Up Up Up Up Up Up Up

Chorus
I’m a rollercoaster
I’m a rollercoaster
I’m a rollercoaster
Heading for the ground

I’m a rollercoaster
I’m a rollercoaster
I’m a rollercoaster
Going down down down

Verse
Up the hill
Hold on everyone
To the top
Careful you hold on

Up up up up up up up up

Chorus
I’m a rollercoaster
I’m a rollercoaster
I’m a rollercoaster
Heading for the ground

I’m a rollercoaster
I’m a rollercoaster
I’m a rollercoaster
Going down down down

I’m a rollercoaster
I’m a rollercoaster
I’m a rollercoaster
Stop

MP3: I’m A Rollercoaster

Silent Night

It’s Christmas Eve and I’m here at my sister’s house here in Seattle. The adults are trying to put the children to bed, but my niece is singing “Glo-oo-oooo-ria” at the top of her lungs. I find their anticipation of Christmas fascinating. I remember when I used to lie awake at night, imagining what latest toy or video game awaited me underneath the tree. Now my favorite time of Christmas Eve are those last few hours before the traditional chaos of Christmas day. The tired adults are relieved to have finished the stocking and Santa surprises for the next day. After decomposing on the couch, they sit in silent contemplation of life and loved ones. For some reason, it’s this simple time of the holiday that’s become one of my favorites.

Anyway, as an early Christmas or late Christmas Eve gift, I’m attaching an unfinished demo of Silent Night that I recorded with Jolie. I hope you enjoy the music.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Jared

Silent Night demo 1 arr by Jared Ong

The First Noel

Happy Holidays everyone!

Jolie and I have been working on recording a couple of Christmas carols to get us in the Christmas season.   This first one, an arrangement of The First Noel, is something I actually started in September.  I first began the initial sketches after receiving a request from a lady from Washington who needed some original music for their Christmas Nativity event.  She’d really enjoyed Give Said The Little Stream and wanted to see if I had anything else.  I thought her inquiry would be a fun project and so I started playing with a few ideas.

After experimenting with a few different carols, I knew I had a potential idea in The First Noel.  I recorded a few measures, and upon playback, immediately felt all Christmasy.  That was a good sign.  The first two verses came in the span of 30 minutes because  I knew what I  wanted to convey: images of fallen snow, a mother peacefully singing to her child, etc.   But when recording the initial demo, I abruptly stopped at the end of the 2nd verse/chorus.  I had no idea which direction to take the music.  So, I did the typical musician thing and put it on hold for a few weeks (e.g. forgot about it).

In late October, I revisited the arrangement by looking at some of the other verses contained in the carol.  The last verse  in particular stuck out to me.

Then let us all with one accord
Sing praises to our heavenly Lord
That hath made Heaven and earth of nought
And with his blood mankind has bought.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the King of Israel!

It was joyous, mysterious, celebratory.

I realized that, growing up, I’d sung the carol superficially. I’d always sung it as a narration, as I were telling a story to a nearby child.  The carol had always been about that story, and never about the act and joy of praise. Reading that last verse, I realized that I’d missed the true message of the carol when singing it.

I started writing the third verse with all those thoughts in mind.  I could hear the crescendo of the piano adding emphasis to the message, with the Fm9 bringing an aura of mysteriousness.  And finally, the refrain “Born is the King!” reminding us of the joy his birth brings to the world.   Both the third verse and the final refrain came quickly. And now, when I listen to the arrangement, that 3rd verse is my favorite part.

Merry Christmas everyone and I hope you all enjoy the video.

Jared

p.s. In terms of the mp3, Jolie and I thought it’d be helpful to put the music on iTunes/Amazon, etc.  This is all hard work (but fun!) and we know that there are those of you who are supportive of what we do.  Thanks for understanding!
iTunes Link
Amazon Link

p.p.s. Other arrangement notes: Some of you might notice that the meter of the arrangement is in 4/4 instead of 3/4. This was done to emphasize the chorus and really bring out the melody. Also, the third verse was changed a little bit from the last verse of the original carol in order to more facilitate a musical transition to the final refrain.

The First Noel Sheet Music

As promised, here is the sheet music for The First Noel.  Although I was originally planning on just uploading the piano/vocal version, I was able to put the finishing touches on the SATB arrangement last night.   I thought it best to upload the sheet music first as I know soloists or choirs like a little bit of lead time to find appropriate holiday music.  Jolie and I are working on a mp3 recording of the solo version which I hope to upload within the next week.

For any of you choir directors who are planning on having your choir sing the arrangement, I’d be most interested in your feedback.  Ideally I’d put the music through its paces with my congregation, but our choir is still getting its feet wet musically.

I also assisted Jolie’s help to record a solo version of Silent Night, so look for that in a follow up post in the future.

Jared

The First Noel (SATB version), arranged by Jared Ong

The First Noel (Solo Version) arranged by Jared Ong

Prepping for the Holidays

Sorry for taking a bit longer than expected with regards to Be Still My Soul. It is 99% done. I think this is one of these cases where I just have to put a version out there and then continue to tweak the mix behind the scenes. I definitely would like a set of new monitors (speakers) to do a better job of mixing the orchestra sounds.

In the meantime, I’ve been working on a holiday arrangement of The First Noel that I think everyone will enjoy. The accompaniment and piano/solo sheet music are all done, and I just need to get the vocalist in to record the vocal track. My target is to upload something the first week of November so that those of you who are looking for a new Christmas arrangement will have enough time to practice it. I originally wrote it as a solo piece. As the accompaniment evolved (it reminds me a bit of John Rutter), I definitely can hear a choir singing with SATB voicings. Since this will require me to rewrite the vocal parts and harmony, I am almost sure you’ll see the sheet music and mp3 versions of the piano/solo sheet music first.  For those of you who are following my blog, please let me know if you really are interested in a SATB version, and I’ll move it up on my priority list.  Seriously, I’m backlogged…I have arrangements of a bunch a pieces that need to be put down on paper (e.g. A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief, Did You Think To Pray, The Time is Far Spent, etc).

-J