|Published: December 22, 2020|
At time of writing this newsletter, we’ve just woken up after the longest night of the year, also known as Winter Solstice. While our friends in the Southern Hemisphere are experiencing the longest hours of sunlight, those in the North are celebrating the promise of sunlight hours returning. Wether you’re celebrating family, hope, love, Solstice, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza or time off work, the season of celebratory traditions is underway, if a little different this year.
Even though musical performances must be pre-recorded and streamed as “virtual concerts” this year, we singers are still finding ways to enjoy the music that makes the holidays special. What are your favorite holiday songs? Have you sung them yet this year? I happen to love “Silent Night” and see it as the quintessential song to sing on Christmas Eve. Did you know it was written in a panic on Christmas Eve day in Austria in the early 18th century?
Water damage to a church’s organ threatened to put a damper on the singing at mass that evening. A worried Austrian priest grabbed a poem he had written called “Stille Nacht” and walked over to a school teacher’s house. He asked the teacher to write a melody and musical accompaniment for the poem that could be played on guitar (hooray for guitars!) so they could sing even without the organ. Talk about last-minute! A few hours later and just in time for the evening mass, the now famous Christmas carol was born.
The intrigue doesn’t end there, however. Today’s well-known version does not have precisely the same melody as the Austrian teacher originally wrote. The 17th and 18th measures of the melody (“Sleep in heavenly peace”) were originally a minor third lower than we sing it now (it was also written in D major and 6/8 time, not F major and 3/4 time as shown below). Many believe a transcription error led to the alteration of the melody. It was an accidental tweak, but it stuck. Thankfully, both versions have survived and have become a part of the hymn’s appeal and identity. Which version do you like better? The red markup below shows the original melody. It may be just a few notes, but it’s at the climactic part of the song.
In this strange year, many of your plans have been abruptly rewritten, just like the melody of “Silent Night.” Despite the challenges, may your 2020 holiday season unfold with the comfort of a familiar melody, even if there have been a few tweaks.
Best wishes for this holiday season,
|Upgrade to Premium and check out the lesson, A Successful Mindset for Solitary Singing Work by Greg Barker, Ph. D. and VP of Publishing at Singdaptive, to learn how to move ahead with your singing in difficult times.|
Compression is an essential audio process that can make or break an audio recording. If you have never completely grasped the concept of compression, take heart. Many people, even those in audio, do not fully understand this term. For starters, you may be a little hazy on what it means because there are actually TWO TYPES of compression: data compression and audio compression. Read this article to hone your understanding of this important audio process.
Noah Aronson and Banot’s Solstice Mashup
No matter your struggles this holiday season, no matter your religious affiliation, no matter where you are on the planet, this solstice mashup will warm your heart while at the same time putting a little groove in it too. Thank you so much Noah Aronson and Banot for this beautiful and intimate message that light will return. The lush vocals and evocative yet humble instrumental backing is a medley of traditional solstice song, “Light is Returning,” and Hanukkah song, “Banu Choshech.”
Kathy Alexander is VP of Curriculum for Singdaptive. She was a staff writer for 6 years at VoiceCouncil Magazine and works for the University of Victoria as a practicum supervisor. Kathy is also a singer, vocal coach and choir director. Career highlights include guest appearances in Europe with Quannah Parker jazz fusion band in Norway, and back on the West Coast with Vision TV’s Let’s Sing Again, The Sooke Philharmonic Orchestra and the Victoria International Jazz Festival.