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Musicians and the Pandemic

Musicians Need Help too

Our hearts go out to anyone suffering from the current virus worldwide. Virus or not, there are always people worse off than any group of people we might mention. Right now musicians are already suffering.

You can help out by listening to their music via streaming platforms like Spotify, Apple Music (iTunes), and Amazon Music. Big name groups probably don’t need help. Instead, try to listen to people who you have not heard before. The artists make money for every song played. Also consider purchasing a track or album. If an artist has a donate button on their website, consider making a donation. Links to get you started are listed below.

If the pandemic continues very long, the economic impact to everyone could be severe. Musicians, at least the lesser known musicians, the truly independent musicians, whether teachers, church musicians, local performers or composers/arrangers are already suffering.

As a church musician, I no longer have a congregation to play for. (We do not have the financial resources or equipment to try and do live services over the internet). It is still up in the air whether I will continue to be paid. If not, nearly 50% of my annual income is gone.

Few musicians perform entirely by themselves. Even a concert pianist has support personnel. Currently there are practically no music performances for live audiences and only the big name performers, who probably don’t need any help can manage concerts via the internet. Most performing and teaching musicians will be unable to effectively do things over the internet.

Teachers can’t teach as effectively via the internet as in live settings. Recording studios, even home studios are no longer operating. And there are many more things negatively impacting musicians.

In my situation I always have taught piano lessons via Facetime or Skype, but thanks to a terrible ISP (AT&T) I have a very, very slow DSL internet connection (never more than 3Mbps!) so what I hear and see is never ideal quality. So, while the idea of doing things over the internet is a great ideal, the infrastructure, at least in rural America simply does not exist.

Here are some links to get you started:
Spotify (Listen for free)

Apple Music (iTunes)

Amazon Music

Google Music

And of course we can be helped with every piece of sheet music you buy or by taking music lessons over Skype or Facetime.

Everyone stay safe. Wash your hands often, avoid crowds, don’t go anywhere unless you have to. If you are sick, think you are sick or someone in your household is the same, stay home.

Categories
Albums Church Music Recordings Website News YouTube Videos

New Album Released

Hymns – Plugged In

I’ve been at it again. A new album is now available. It is title Hymns – Plugged In.

A collection of traditional hymns set in contemporary styles using all electronic instruments.

Available at: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B083TPXRBP as well as on Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon and all digital music sources.

Here is a demo of the whole album:

Categories
Arranging Church Music Other Website News

New Free Music available

Free Music

If you didn’t know it, my website has quite a few complete pieces available for download for free. There are also some free titles that would be of use to teachers or students, particularly as related to music theory. Unlike many free products out there, you don’t have to register, you don’t have to give me your email address. Just download what you want.  You’re welcome to click on the donate button found on several of my pages if you’d like to help me stay out of debt.

Click on this link https://jamesgilbertmusic.com/index.php/music-catalog/#free

The original descriptions from when they were sold:

Volume one: AMSTERDAM (Praise The Lord Who Reigns Above) – BLESSED NAME (Blessed Be The Name) – CONVERSE (What A Friend We Have In Jesus) – GALILEE (Jesus Calls Us) – MESSAGE (We’ve A Story To Tell To The Nations) – NEAR THE CROSS – SALVATION – ST THOMAS (I Love Thy Kingdom)- SURRENDER (I surrender all)- WEDLOCK (God Is My Strong Salvation) -Parts are included for treble clef C Bb Eb and F instruments.

Volume 2: AR HYD Y NOS- BRADBURY (Savior Like A Shepherd) – CRIMOND (The Lord’s My Shepherd) – ST DENIO (Immortal Invisible) – WEB (Stand Up For Jesus) – CRUSADER’S HYMN (ST ELIZABETH) (Fairest Lord Jesus; Beautiful Savior) – I AM THINE – MY SAVIOR’S LOVE (I Stand Amazed) – O HOW I LOVE JESUS – PROMISES (Standing on) – RESIGNATION (My Shepherd Will Supply). Parts are provided for treble clef C Bb Eb and F instruments.

Volume 3: AZMON (O For A Thousand Tongues To Sing); CWM RHONDDA (God Of Grace And God Of Glory); TOPLADY (Rock of Ages); JOYFUL SONG (Praise Him Praise Him); GORDON (My Jesus I Love Thee); HENDON (Take My Life And Let It Be); BUNESSAN (Morning Has Broken); LYONS (O Worship The King); PICARDY (Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence); In The Garden; Love Lifted Me. Parts are provided for treble clef C Bb Eb and F instruments.

Enjoy.

Categories
Arranging Church Music Organ Music Sibelius Website News

Recent additions (Nov 2018)

Late October additions to catalog and Soundcloud

Listen to my contribution to a collaborative effort with Spitfire Audio. (Alas it wasn’t selected as part of the song).

I added 3 new sheet music titles to the sheet music catalog (https://jamesgilbertmusic.com/catalog.php)

Two versions of the Hallelujah Chorus from Messiah. One for solo organ and one for Brass quintet:

https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20928934

https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20928932

A solo organ arrangement of Beneath The Cross Of Jesus.

https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20928930

I have some instrumental ensemble (orchestra) titles coming soon. If you have any suggestions for what type of music you’d like to see me add to the catalog, please comment below.

Enjoy..

Categories
Arranging Website News

Sheet Music: Collections vs. Singles

I’m taking a break from writing about the individual tracks on my new (July 2018) album. I will return to them.

I sometimes wonder if anyone is reading these blogs of mine, I’d love to know. With practically no comments or interaction from anyone about my blog, I’d love to hear from you in comments or the contact form on my website.

Earlier in 2018 I wrote that I was no longer selling my keyboard music as single titles but would instead be selling collections of my music. After experimenting with that for a few months I’ve decided to go back to selling titles individually. The benefits of  having only collections available were outweighed by administrative and organizational elements that the average buyer of sheet music probably isn’t aware of.  For example, keeping track of which titles are contained in which collection and which filenames are associated with those collections & individual titles.

Whether it be keyboard, bells, instrumental groups or solos, I’ve only ever had one collection sell well. That being my Huge Classical piano collection book. This is probably due to classical music always being more popular than sacred or popular music arrangements and that few of the titles in that collection are available elsewhere from me.

The thought occurs to me that maybe with digital music, people prefer to buy individual titles. Is it because the total price is cheaper? Is it because, unlike with collections, they don’t end up buying titles they don’t want. (That’s my reason for preferring singles to collections. I’ve quit buying Hal Leonard Jazz Piano Solo series books because I end up with too many titles I just don’t care anything about ).

I’d really love to see a discussion of what you like or what other musicians you know like. Are there other reasons why people don’t want to buy collections in digital form as much as singles? Or maybe I’ve got it wrong. Maybe people do like collections better than single sheet music.

Categories
Albums Arranging General Organ Music Piano Lessons Reaper Recordings Sibelius Website News YouTube Videos

May 2018 update

Current news

I’m always looking for subjects to write about here or tutorial to do on YouTube. Please use the comments section to give me some ideas.

I’ve not shown a map of where people are buying and performing my sheet music for some time, so here’s the latest (as of Mar 31, 2018)

I’m making some changes to the music catalog. Rather than offer individual keyboard arrangements, I’m only selling collections. I have 8 piano solo collections available. As time permits I will remove organ solos from the catalog and only offer collections. It is easier to manage collections.

I have no plans for anything on YouTube at the present time. This is for two reasons: 1) Nobody who watches my videos on YouTube has bothered to let me know what they want to see and 2) YouTube no longer allows me to monetize my channel and nobody who watches my videos has donated anything to keep it going.

As always, check the sheet music catalog for new titles. At least once a month, sometimes more often there are new titles.

After 15 custom arrangements for a single client I must be doing something right. If you have a beginner/intermediate instrumental group or a church orchestra in need of arrangements, let me know so I can write it for you.

I’m always “playing around” with my various sound libraries and live instruments in my home studio. Look for at least one new album out this summer, if not two.

I continue to teach piano lessons locally and via Skype. So, no matter where you are in the world I can teach you. I can also tutor on composing, arranging, music theory and more. Drop me a note if you are interested.

 

Categories
Arranging Church Music Organ Music Website News

New Additions to the Catalog

New Additions

The sheet music we have available is in a variety of styles for just about every imaginable combination of instruments. Some were written & used in church; some were written for teaching and educational settings; some are just fun to play and some would make great background music in a video.

I’ve added the following Solo Organ titles to the catalog recently (March 2017):

Down At The Crosshttps://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20707177 — A good piece for Lent or Communion

Lord, Who Throughout These Forty Dayshttps://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20707178 — Another excellent piece for use during Lent

The Lily Of The Valley https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20707179 – An upbeat, fun to play setting of this tune.

There Is A Fountain https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20707180 — Another piece well suited for Lent or Communion

To see all the titles I have available (currently around 1,000) visit https://jamesgilbertmusic.com/catalog.php

 

Categories
Arranging Church Music Organ Music Website News

Feb 2018 Sheet-Music additions

More additions to the catalog

Here are the latest additions to our sheet-music catalog. Including sheet-music and individual audio tracks, we approach a total of 1,100 titles available.

Breathe On Me — A setting of the hymn tune NOVA VITA for orchestra — https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20701580

Come Down, O Love Divine — An arrangement of this hymn tune for solo organ — https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20701582

Memoriam — Based on the original piano solo, this piece is for solo orchestra — https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20701584

Now Thank We All Our God — A setting of NUN DANKET for solo orchestra — https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20701581

Once In Royal David’s City — This Christmas time piece is part of our Any Size Church Orchestra series. Playable by as little as 1 orchestral instrument and keyboard or a full concert band or full orchestra — https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20701585

Onward Christian Soldiers — A setting of this very popular hymn. Part of our Any Size Church Orchestra series. — https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20701590

Visit our Catalog Page to see all of our titles and recordings.

Categories
Arranging Church Music Organ Music Website News

New Sheet-Music

New Sheet-Music

I’m trying to compose or arrange more music than I usually do. Since I am a church musician, the obvious music to write is music of a utilitarian nature. That is, write music I can use or that another church musician can use. Click on the link for each title to see sample pages and listen to sample recordings.

Onward Christian Soldiers    For Solo Organ https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20688328
When recently called upon to play for a memorial service as part of a regular church service, this title was requested (on organ). Surprisingly with my hundreds of organ titles I’d purchased over the years and arrangements I’d written, I did not have an arrangement of this for organ. I needed something that could work as a less marching, military sounding piece, so I put this together.

Breathe On Me [NOVA VITA] For solo piano https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20688329
This was a title scheduled to be used one Sunday morning so I decided to write an arrangement to use in that service.

Memoriam For solo piano. https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20688330
For the same mentioned memorial service I needed something during communion. The congregation likes me to play the communion music on piano. For you music theorists or those that are good at analyzing music, see if you can figure out the relationship with “On Eagle’s Wings” that a soloist sang earlier in the program. (Good luck with that).

TO GOD BE THE GLORY Piano hymn accompaniment https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20688331
From time to time our church likes to have a service with only piano and a bit more gospel oriented music. They also like alternate harmonizations or accompaniments during hymns. I adapted this from a similar organ hymn accompaniment also available in my catalog.

When I Survey The Wondrous Cross  for Orchestra https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20688327
I have a few versions of this title for different instruments. As a popular title I decided it would be good to have an orchestra/large ensemble version as those titles have always been popular

Categories
Arranging Church Music Kindle Organ Music Other Piano Lessons Recordings Website News YouTube Videos

Year 2017 in Review

Goodbye to 2017

To start the blog being moved to this location, I thought I’d start with an article reviewing the past year, 2017, and my musical efforts.

Personally, two things impacted me more than anything else.

First, Hurricane Irma impacted where I live more than other hurricanes in the past have. (I went through Andrew in Miami in 1992 and 3 storms in 2004 here in North Florida). Took probably a month to two to get back to normal. Even now, at least one major highway is impacted due to flooding.

Secondly, I had a USB hub short-circuit or something. It ended up frying the USB ports in my desktop. I had to replace the computer and go through the tedious process of reinstalling software and customizing things to my liking. Of course, the unexpected expense was not welcome.

Most exciting for me (or terrifying I suppose) was one day when I was practicing before my piano students arrived at the church in Micanopy. I saw police go by outside. The short story is that there was a credible bomb threat against two churches in town and a device was found by the propane tanks at the opposite end of the church from where I was. I left the building. A few of my students got to review theory down the street at the library. The crude device would never have gone off let alone caused any serious damage.

Throughout the entire year I released 51 new arrangements or compositions. I performed as a solo pianist three times. Once for a public concert featuring TV & Film music. The other two were for private parties. I played the organ for several funerals this year – more than usual and for at least 3 of them I knew the deceased.

I continue to play for church services at an Episcopal church in Micanopy, FL. It is a good, steady gig at a church that actually sings, sometimes in 4-part harmony, and appreciates music from Gregorian Chant to praise/worship music. (Although they lean more toward the older music than newer).

I continued to coordinate the Concert Series for the above mentioned church. The 2017/2018 series will have 8 concerts, all high-quality performers.

My piano lessons locally and via Skype continued to go well, although I am always wanting more students.

My parent’s cat, featured some years ago in a YouTube video with original music died. He was around 15 years old.

A review of all my music compositions and arrangements follows:

January through March

I released 2 new arrangements and adapted 2 original compositions.
I did one arrangement for a Toronto, Canada church/school for a Reformation celebration.

I’ve also been working with a church in Houston arranging material for their all-volunteer band/orchestra that consists of mostly 12-18 year olds.

Abide With Me — A 12/8 flowing arrangement for solo piano of this familiar piece with large ending. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20407440?aff_id=104230

Was Lebet, Was Schwebet (O Worship The Lord in the Beauty of Holiness) — This was originally a custom arrangement for a Canadian school as they planned to celebrate the anniversary of The Reformation. A hymn accompaniment for Brass Quintet and organ. Suitable for any accompanying of congregational singing. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20407433?aff_id=104230

Missles of October — An original piece, originally for instrumental ensemble. Here adapted for solo piano. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20407445?aff_id=104230

Christ is Made The Sure Foundation — An original piece, originally for choir. Adapted for solo piano. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20441509?aff_id=104230

April through June

During this period I released 19 arrangements or compositions.

All People That On Earth Do Dwell — An unaccompanied setting of All People That On Earth Do Dwell for Soprano, Alto and Tenor or 3-part choir. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20456550?aff_id=104230 Popular Title

BROMLEY (O Trinity Of Blessed Light) — An instrumental hymn accompaniment of this hymn tune. It is intended to be played by any combination of instruments (with keyboard). It consists of two verses of the hymn, each in a different key with a modulation between the two. Parts provided for C, Bb, Eb, F, Alto Clef and Keyboard instruments http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20456546?aff_id=104230

Jesus Keep Me Near The Cross — A contemporary blues, jazz style arrangement of this gospel hymn, Jesus Keep Me Near The Cross. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20456548?aff_id=104230

Amazing Grace, How Sweet The Sound — The popular tune NEW BRITAIN, best known as Amazing Grace here arranged for solo piano. This is a fun, upbeat piece with hints of contemporary and classical music. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20441507?aff_id=104230 Popular Title

Celtic Postlude — When this piece was written, it was popular to have church services that focused on or used Celtic music. This piece is a modern interpretation of an Irish style of music. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20441506?aff_id=104230 Popular Title

Piece in F minor — A piece for concert band in F Minor. An upbeat, almost dance-like piece. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20441502?aff_id=104230

Praise The Lord, Ye Heavens Adore Him    — The hymn tune HYFRYDOL has been set to many different lyrics. Besides this one “Praise The Lord, Ye Heavens Adore Him,” the title “Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus” is well known. This is a fun, upbeat piece to play. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20441508?aff_id=104230

Amazing Grace    — A setting of the hymn tune NEW BRITAIN, best known as Amazing Grace. For Orchestra. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20441503?aff_id=104230 Popular Title

Nearer My God To Thee    — A setting of the hymn tune BETHANY, best known as Nearer My God To Thee. This is the song the band on the ship Titantic played as the ship slowly sank after hitting an iceberg in 1912. For orchestra. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20441504?aff_id=104230 Popular Title

The Star-Spangled Banner — An arrangement of the US national anthem, also known as The Star-Spangled Banner. For Orchestra. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20441505?aff_id=104230

Awesome God — For Woodwind Quintet. A full arrangement of this popular praise and worship piece.  http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20440218?aff_id=104230

Brass    Bridge Over Troubled Water — For Brass Quintet. An arrangement of this popular Simon and Garfunkel tune. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20436729?aff_id=104230 Popular Title

Crazy — For String Quartet. A country, bluesy setting of this piece made popular by Patsy Cline. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20436742?aff_id=104230

Day By Day — For String Quartet. A classical piece in the style of Mozart. Based on the hymn tune BLOTT EN DAG (Day by Day). http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20436745?aff_id=104230 Popular Title

Fairest Lord Jesus — An arrangement for Brass Quintet of this classic hymn. Also known under the title Beautiful Savior. Hymn tune: ST ELIZABETH     http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20436743?aff_id=104230

Halleljuah Chorus (from The Messiah) — A setting of the chorus from The Messiah, for woodwind quintet. A popular, highly requested title, great for any group. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20436751?aff_id=104230 Popular Title

Jesu Joy Of Man’s Desiring (Bach) — For Brass Quintet. This popular piece, often heard at Weddings or Christmas time is from BWV 147. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20436744?aff_id=104230

Prelude in E minor (Chopin) For String Quartet. An arrangement of this popular Chopin piece. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20436747?aff_id=104230

The Sound Of Silence — For Woodwind Quintet. A setting of this popular Paul Simon piece. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20440215?aff_id=104230

July through September

The God Of Abraham Praise — An arrangement of the hymn The God of Abraham Praise for SATB choir with piano accompaniment. Hymn tune name: LEONI. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20520291?aff_id=104230

Waiting and Watching — An original composition for orchestra. A minor, reflective piece. For Orchestra. Many parts are doubled so it can be played with a smaller than average group. Piano reduction provided. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20520293?aff_id=104230

LAUDATE DOMINUM (O Praise Ye The Lord) — An instrumental hymn accompaniment of this hymn tune. This is designed to be played by any combination of instruments with piano. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20520292?aff_id=104230

ST GEORGE’S WINDSOR (Come Ye Thankful People Come) — An instrumental hymn accompaniment of this hymn tune. This is designed to be played by any combination of instruments with piano. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20472175?aff_id=104230

There Is Power In The Blood — A new setting of this favorite gospel hymn. For solo piano. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20472177?aff_id=104230
Popular Title

There Is Power In The Blood — A fun to play arrangement of this audience favorite. For Orchestra. There are many doubled parts in this arrangement which means it can be played and sound just as good without all the listed instruments. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20470069?aff_id=104230
Popular title

A Mighty Fortress — A rhythmic piece inspired by the hymn tune EIN’ FESTE BURG. For orchestra. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20467078?aff_id=104230

Amazing Grace — For Piano Duet. An upbeat, rhythmic setting of this all time favorite hymn. Hymn tune: NEW BRITAIN. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20467079?aff_id=104230
Popular Title

Near The Cross — A blues, jazz setting of this lesser known hymn tune. A fun and very different setting for SATB choir with piano accompaniment. Small choirs can sing the piece in unison or two-parts. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20465376?aff_id=104230

October through December

Once In Royal David’s City — For Solo Organ. A favorite Christmas hymn arranged in a meditative style. Hymn tune: IRBY.

There’s A Voice In The Wilderness — For solo piano. For Advent and Christmas. This arrangement is a majestic and festive setting great for a Postlude or Prelude during Advent. Hymn tune: ASCENSION

Now Thank We All Our God — For Solo Organ. A contemporary, upbeat setting of this hymn. Hymn tune: NUN DANKET

SAGINA (And Can It Be) — For organ accompaniment of congregational singing. Hymn tune: SAGINA. Most common lyrics are to the title “And Can It Be.” Alternate harmonization and descant.

Thou, Who At Thy First Eucharist — For Solo Organ. The melody by Orlando Gibbons in the style of a modern chorale prelude. Hymn tune: SONG 1.

At Calvary — For Woodwind Quintet. This popular hymn arranged for woodwind quintet.  http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20666098?aff_id=104230

I Come With Joy — For solo piano. An arrangement of this popular tune. From the Southern Harmony collection, the hymn tune LAND OF REST is often set to the lyrics of I Come With Joy,  a piece often used for communion. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20666093?aff_id=104230

I Remember You — For Solo Piano. An original composition, arranged and adapted here from the original choral piece. This piece could be appropriate for any spot in a church service, school program or recital. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20666095?aff_id=104230

Irma’s March — An original composition for orchestra. A march like feel, a sense of forward motion throughout. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20666091?aff_id=104230

Kyrie from Missa De Beate Virgine — For Solo Organ. An arrangement of this piece by Josquin Desprez. From one of the earliest Renaissance settings of the Mass. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20666092?aff_id=104230

Rejoice, Ye Pure In Heart — For String Quartet. An arrangement of the popular hymn. Tune name: Marion. A fun, syncopated arrangement. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20666097?aff_id=104230

Amazing Grace — An arrangement of the hymn tune NEW BRITAIN – Amazing Grace – for SATB choir with piano accompaniment.    http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20657604?aff_id=104230

Amazing Grace — For String Quartet. A lively, fun to play setting. Hymn tune: NEW BRITAIN. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20657616?aff_id=104230

Amazing Grace — For Woodwind Quintet. An arrangement of the popular hymn. Hymn tune: NEW BRITAIN. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20657617?aff_id=104230

EVENTIDE (Abide With Me) — An instrumental hymn accompaniment designed to be played by any combination of instruments along with piano (or organ). http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20657609?aff_id=104230

NEW BRITAIN (Amazing Grace) — An instrumental hymn accompaniment designed to be played by any combination of instruments along with piano (or organ). http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20657611?aff_id=104230

NUN KOMM, DER HEIDEN HEILAND (Savior of the Nations, Come) — An instrumental hymn accompaniment designed to be played by any combinatoin of instruments along with piano (or organ). http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20657613?aff_id=104230

SLANE (Be Thou My Vision) — An instrumental hymn accompaniment designed to be played by any combination of instruments along with piano (or organ). http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20657615?aff_id=104230

This Is My Father’s World — For SATB, unaccompanied choir. In addition to rich harmonies, the piece ends with a flowing descant. Hymn tune: TERRA BEATA. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/20657606?aff_id=104230

Please check back often. I plan to be more active with the blog than I was last year.