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Old 10-29-2010, 01:35 PM
Sherry C's Avatar
Sherry C Sherry C is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Bad Axe, MI, USA (The Tip of the Thumb of Michigan)
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Default Christmas program music


I use Composer not only to get sheet music, but often times to create backing tracks for performances. This year for our kids' program at church, we decided it would be cool to hear the Christmas story as told by the animals. The basic idea is that we have different animals along the way tell things from their perspective. There are five songs, and there will be a narrator that ties things together. We decided to do "mask opera" this year as money is a bit tight for costumes, and we need to be flexible in case someone has to switch roles. Holding up a mask is easy

The following are the General MIDI (GM) versions of the songs. I'm using some soundfonts as well as Garritan Personal Orchestra for my accompaniment versions, which have the final annotations. I think you can still get the gist of what's going on.

So, we have:
1. Donkey Song - This song is the trip to Bethlehem as described by Mary's donkey. Totally original, though modeled on the "mozy" song.


2. Wise Camels and Horses - Traditionally we think of three wise men and three camels, because of the three gifts mentioned in the Bible, and all the creche manufacturers think three is a good number However, such a caravan would most likely have contained a number of different animals, and having a conversation between haughty camels and clueless horses seemed like a fun take on this trip. Traditional tune, to connect the conversation with the journey.


3. Herod's Cat - The feel of this song ties in somewhat with the Camels and Horses song, and I owe Michael Dodd a debt of gratitude for the inspiration and chord progressions from his Herod's Waltz. If Herod had an animal at the palace who was a know-it-all and would have the gall to talk down to camels and horses, it had to have been a cat (apologies to those who own cats and like them )


4. Sheep Song - Sheep are fairly timid and not so smart, so it was rather fun coming up with a song that would reflect what they might have thought about the appearance of angels in the night. Thank you, Mr. Tchaikovsky, for the perfect accompaniment


5. Sleepy Little Stranger - The only other totally original song, and is sung as a sort of lullaby by the stable animals. Some of them know more than others about what is going on, and it's a bit of back and forth between them. The General MIDI (GM) version posted here does not have the annotations for which animals do which phrases.

These are close but not quite performance-ready. I'm planning to make videos of the melody and lyrics to use as the accompaniment and for the kids to be able to see and hear the music. I've found this to be very helpful when performing songs

For what it's worth, for the original music songs, I don't play keyboard worth squat. But I can hear what I want to do in my head, and so I record the rhythms into Composer by banging them on the keyboard (the pitches don't usually sound so good - you'd think I'd be able to play piano by now, as much as I bang on it to compose songs) and then go back and change the note pitches. It works for me

If you have any suggestions for improvements, I'm all ears

Music is to the soul like water is to green growing things.
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