Category Archives: Kindle

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.

MIDI project

Among my regular activities as a musician, I was hired to work on special MIDI project.

I thought you might be interested to hear some of the details.

There are a number of churches that have organs but nobody to play them. Many of the organs are midi capable but the midi files they can find online are, let’s face it, not the greatest. Most them sound like they weren’t played by an organist (or for that matter anyone with any accompanying experience). Others consist of only one verse of a hymn or they don’t have introductions. Others are only on channel one. Many organs don’t use channel one as their ‘Great’ manual and this leaves out the pedals, always on a different channel. Yes, one could create their own midi files, but that’s a lot of work. They could edit the files they find off the internet, but generally speaking, they would require too much editing to make them ideal.

So, I was hired to travel to the Orlando, FL area to record some hymns on an organ with midi capability. The organ in question uses channel 12 for the great, 13 for swell and 14 for the pedals. That is not typical for organs, but this unit (an older Rodgers organ) was designed to be supplemented with an external sequencer/sound module that uses channels 1-10 for general midi sounds. The organ also used sysex codes to change the pistons and stops. I recorded one hymn at a time onto a Roland external sequencer (an RD-70).  Rather than try and set tempo on each hymn, we just recorded at the default tempo of 120. A so-called ‘free form’ recording.

We were able to capture the sysex codes to be able to use when editing sequences on a computer. In total, I recorded about 100 hymns and a few ‘service’ pieces. The client the midi files will eventually be used with is an Episcopal church so we focused on them as well as some hymns that span all denominations. The session took about 2 full days with plenty of breaks. I used my iPad where I use the app forScore to view the PDF files of the hymns.

It would have been helpful to have people singing, not so much to adjust to their singing as a good accompanist would, but rather to help me remember which verse we were on and not to forget to include an introduction. There were several titles that I forgot an introduction or I played one less or one more verse than was in the hymnal. I did some post-production on the computer to take care of those issues.

Since most organs use channels 1 for the Swell, 2 for the Great and 4 for the Pedals, it is an easy thing to edit the hymns I did so they can be played on any organ with midi capability. (Channel 3 is used for a Choir or Positiv, if present). Unfortunately, every organ manufacturer and every model within their companies use a different method for selecting stops or picking pistons (aka presets). Since different organs have different stops to choose from, it is impossible to do midi sequences of hymns that automatically select appropriate registrations unless I know the midi implementation and stop list of each organ that wants to use the sequences. However, if someone is willing to sit at the organ console and select a piston or stops just before each hymn plays, then it is quite possible and very realistic to provide high quality hymn accompaniments.

There is a great deal of discussion in some churches about how terrible it is to use the organ and how old-fashioned it is. I say nonsense. Most likely those churches have suffered at the hands of an accompanist who really doesn’t know what they are doing (even if they think they do). Or the instrument itself was the wrong instrument for the auditorium. When the church I play for recently got a new organ with a top notch speaker system – a pipe organ was out of the question for such a small facility and the musical needs the church has – I had one person tell me they never really liked the organ, until now. Now they really like it. Most people just thought it sounded much better. The point is, if you want good music in a church, you need a great accompanist and a good instrument. You’ll be surprised at how many people really do like those ‘old-fashioned’ hymns when played by someone who knows what they are doing and how much they really don’t like drums, synthesizers and guitars playing a bunch of music that stylistically is 20 years behind the times and is being attempted by a bunch of amateurs.

If you’d like to read more about how to be a good accompanist, visit the Amazon Kindle store and check out my book In the Shadows but still in the Spotlight.  It gives some good tips on how to be a better accompanist.

So, loaded with these sequences, it was time to put them to test in the real world. A small church too far away for me to play there and make it to my current church has a midi capable organ similar to the one I recorded on. The church has its 5 general pistons setup from soft congregational accompanying (1) to loud festival hymns (5). The church emails me a list of the pieces for the coming Sunday. If it is one of the ones I already recorded, I double check it to make sure it has the right number of verses, an intro and the right piston changes at the start and, if needed, between verses. If it isn’t one I’ve already recorded, I get the hymn into my computer sequencer – I use the DAW Reaper for my recording work – add piston changes and make sure all is correct. I then email the church the sequences. The person on that end copies the .mid file to a floppy. (And yes, they still make 3 1/2 inch floppy disk drives and drives). He puts it into the sequencer, hits play and that’s it. For special situations, like an upcoming patriotic choir accompaniment, I utilized the sounds on the sound module (strings, winds, drums, etc) in addition to the organ.

The results? The vicar of the church, who I know and who regularly hears me play for services, says it is just like having me there playing the organ. The breaks between verses, the breathing spots, introductions and stop changes are exactly like if I were there. I’m very pleased with those results.

For you? Even if you do contemporary music, if you have any instrument or sound module that is midi capable, it is possible for me to create a high-quality midi accompaniment sequence of your music. Just insert the disk (or usb memory stick), select the piece and hit play. For those with midi capable organs, I can provide the hymns just like described above.

That’s why I’ve not been doing much here on the blog.

I have posted a few new videos on my YouTube channel. Do check them out when you get a chance.

If you are on Spotify, here are some playlists you may want to check out:

http://open.spotify.com/user/jlg-gnv/playlist/5amPipKSeCefguofXXbtJV

http://open.spotify.com/user/jlg-gnv/playlist/4COYvc3upBFoabQy6nfwJ8

http://open.spotify.com/user/jlg-gnv/playlist/1LrdQ4tq9BRwyN8rVMJim8

http://open.spotify.com/user/jlg-gnv/playlist/64gzlDm2FIgX693FBAZG7T

http://open.spotify.com/user/jlg-gnv/playlist/0sG01jRAD22KlYO6j7PIcV

Enjoy.

(edit: removed some redundant text 6/29)