Friday, January 2, 2015

Still More of My Harmonizations

Here are more of the hymn tunes I wrote for the final expansion of my book Useful Hymns, of which I just ordered a proof copy from Lulu this morning. With the exception of ERSTANDEN IST they are all melodies that I wrote and harmonized within the span of about a week on either side of Christmas. For what it's worth, 75 percent of my harmonization of ERSTANDEN IST is a realization of a bass line written by Michael Praetorius.

My composing process was pretty unromantic. I sat down in front of the computer with the file of hymn texts in front of me, worked out how the rhythm should go, hummed a tune to fit it, and typed it straight into Microsoft Word without passing the piano or collecting $200. I spent parts of two evenings in front of the TV with my parents scribbling the tunes down on musical notation paper - 26 of them jammed together on 5 single-sided sheets - then spent a good part of my four-day Christmas weekend harmonizing them and typing them into Finale.

The mechanics of getting the music into the hymnal were the biggest challenge. Because the melody font wouldn't embed properly, I had to copy and paste the tunes from Word into Paint, save them as BMPs, trim them in Photoshop to eliminate extra canvas, drop them into Word and adjust the line breaks and pagination as I went. As for the harmonized arrangements, I printed them as a PDF from Finale, flattened and cropped them in Photoshop, saved them as JPGs, and dropped those into the appendix at the end of the Word document.

So, if the book ends up looking like a hymnal, no thanks whatsoever will be owed to the software engineers who could by now, and long since, have created a straightforward process for doing all this.

And so without further ado, other than trimming the JPGs in Photoshop one last time...
This is for, duh, an Advent hymn.

This is for a hymn depicting Jesus' return as a royal wedding feast.

This is for a paraphrase of Isaiah 55.

This is for a Christian burial hymn.

This is for a paraphrase of Psalm 118.

This is one of two tunes for a Communion hymn I wrote in 1992.

This tune is for a hymn on the Passion of Christ.

This tune's hymn was inspired by a church's mission statement posted above its main entry.

Here's the second tune of that Communion hymn.

This tune is for a paraphrase of Psalm 116.

I adapted this tune to fit two texts with different meters. In one hymn the third phrase ends with the last note of bar 6; in the other, that note is the pickup to the fourth phrase.

This tune is for a hymn on the idea that the church is "in the world but not of the world."

This is the one I didn't write. The Praetorius bass line peters out toward the end of the third phrase.

This tune is for a paraphrase of Psalm 68. More to come...

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