All-day singings & conventions New compositions

Market Street

In going through some old files, I stumbled across this audio recording from the 2012 All California Sacred Harp Convention. After the Saturday session, there was a special singing of new tunes. One of those new tunes we sang was one I had written, a plain tune called “Market Street.” Here’s that recording from a decade ago:

The words are from the poem “Let the Light Enter: The Dying Words of Goethe,” by Frances Ellen Watkins Harper.

“Light! more light! the shadows deepen,
And my life is ebbing low,
Throw the windows widely open:
Light! more light! before I go.

“Softly let the balmy sunshine
Play around my dying bed,
E’er the dimly lighted valley
I with lonely feet must tread.

“Light! more light! for Death is weaving
Shadows ‘round my waning sight,
And I fain would gaze upon him
Through a stream of earthly light.”

Not for greater gifts of genius;
Not for thoughts more grandly bright,
All the dying poet whispers
Is a prayer for light, more light.

Gracious Saviour, when life’s day-dreams
Melt and vanish from the sight,
May our dim and longing vision
Then be blessed with light, more light.

New compositions

Two new tunes

Two Advent tunes: “Galilee” and “Prepare Ye the Way”.

It seems kind of pointless to post all these new tunes on this website. But when I post them here, somehow it gets them out of my head so I can stop thinking about them.

New compositions

Two new tunes

Wesport and Troops of Angels. Westport is the only new tune I’m really happy with from the past couple of years.

New compositions

Collection of tunes

I distributed a collection of 32 new shape note tunes at yesterday’s special Palo Alto singing. It’s downloadable from Google Drive.

I think most of the tunes are somewhere on this website (and one was printed in the old “Sing the Trumpet” publication). But some of the older tunes are significantly revised.

Can’t imagine anyone but myself will want access to these, but this makes it easier for me to access this PDF from anywhere.

New compositions

Three new tunes

Two tunes that go together: Psalm 12 and Psalm 13.

Plus Yolo Bypass.

New compositions

Two newish tunes

The first draft of Jacob’s Star was written in 2019, but a test singing did not go well; it’s been completely rewritten. The first draft of Heavenly Phrases was from 2014; again, test singing didn’t go well, now completely rewritten.

New compositions

Rays of Comfort

I wrote the first version of this in May, 2020, during lockdown. The original version was meant for singing on Zoom. I wrote a 4-part plain tune, then broke it up into solos spread out over four verses. That way, each voice eventually got to sing every part. Here’s the second page of the original version:

I posted this to the Sacred Harp Friends Facebook page. As far as I know, no one ever sang it. But it made me feel better to be able to do something musical during lockdown.

I’ve now revised this as a plain tune.

New compositions

Four new tunes

Four new tunes: HealdsburgPortlandI Will Go on My Way (first draft 2019, complete rewrite) — Hopedale.

New compositions Reflections on singing

Yet another new tune

New tune: Purisima Creek.

God knows why I’m writing so many shape note tunes these days. I think it’s because I have fewer outlets for music because of the pandemic.

Pre-pandemic, I was singing three and four times a week: in a traditional chorus, Sacred Harp, folk music jam session, and a quartet; and voice lessons on top of that. The pandemic stopped all that. But for the first year of the pandemic I didn’t notice that I was no longer doing much music, because I was working seven days a week.

Now we’re pretty much out of the pandemic, but it still doesn’t feel entirely safe to sing. Now I’m lucky to be able to sing a couple of times a month — outdoors, maybe distanced, maybe with a mask, depending. I’ve pretty much stopped singing online, as I just don’t find it as satisfying as in person singing.

What I really want to do is sing with other people. In the absence of actual choral singing, at least I can write music….

New compositions

Two new tunes

Two new tunes. Los Angeles is a complete rewrite of an old tune. Ukraine was sung by Palo Alto local singers a few weeks ago and it’s probably worth singing again.