breathing & shop talk

Breathing is good. In the middle of the night last night, I sat up wheezing unable to draw a good breath. I frightened Eileen to death (who probably expects me to pop off from a heart attack some night since I talk about death a lot). After several long minutes, I began to be able to breathe. It was a frightening experience. Another reason to be glad to be alive.

I got up this morning and did some more composing. I am doing SATB settings of melodies with the name St. Nicholas. I have had the idea for a while that it would be fun to write three organ pieces based on tunes whose names are the names of my three grandchildren.

I keep finding tunes named St. Nicholas. I even sketched a little organ beginning a few years ago. I thought maybe I could jump start myself by starting over completely, since I wasn’t satisfied with the previous approach.

I began with the melody in the Lutheran Book of Worship (#167) which is  usually called HERR ICH HABE MISGEHANDELT and was composed by Johann Cruger (1598-1662). I did two completely different harmonizations. Here are the midi recordings of these two harmonizations.

I then did a little organ setting.

In the organ setting I used the technique of dividing the piece up into sections based on each line. Each line of the melody is preceded by a short counterpuntal introduction which uses motives from the line it is introducing.

Interestingly I was pleased with all the settings I wrote yesterday.

This morning I turned to the tune named St. Nicholas in the new version of the hymnal, Hymns, Ancient and Modern: Revised. I quite like this little hymnal. I purchased it and The New English Hymnal when I visited England for the first time in 2000. I bought them at the gift shop at Westminster Abbey.

The tune in HA&M (as Lord Peter Wimsey refers to it) was composed by one W. Ellis who lived from 1868 to 1947. It’s a solid example of beautiful English romantic melodies and harmonization.

I found it an interesting challenge to reharmonize it because Ellis made the  melody more harmonic dependent than the sturdy Cruger tune in the LBW.

I’m not as pleased with this reharmonization as I am with yesterday’s, but still I think I learned something doing it.

There is a tune in The Hymnal 1940 also called St. Nicholas. I put it in Finale, but am not considering using except as maybe the subject of another little compositional exercise. What interested me about this one is that it was paired with a translation of the Phos Hilaron which is a very early Christian hymn that was sung as the lights in the home were lit. I admire the text and have seen some very cool musical settings of it.

I know this is a lot of shop talk today, but it’s what’s on my mind.


About admin

This information box about the author only appears if the author has biographical information. Otherwise there is not author box shown. Follow YOOtheme on Twitter or read the blog.

2 thoughts on “breathing & shop talk

  1. I’m not planning to do anything about the breathing episode. I seemed to have accidentally breathed in when I was having a small amount of stomach acid reflux (ahem). It actually led to me vomiting due (I think) to that automatic regurgitation reaction that one has when something is at the back of the throat. Certainly if I have any more of this at all I will make a doctor’s appointment. But right now it feels like kind of a fluke dealy…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.