Tomorrow we celebrate Thanksgiving in the United States. Wherever you live, this can be a time to reflect on and express gratitude and thankfulness. Gratitude is the inner feeling that you have received kindness. Thankfulness is the expression of that feeling. Both are positive and, though seemingly small, add so much to our lives. After all, if we don’t acknowledge the good things we already have, how can we receive more? The feeling of gratitude opens us to more positive feelings, including kindness and compassion toward ourselves and others.
“Angel” is a piece I wrote in 2003, on keyboard and harmonica. I hope you enjoy hearing it on lyre, Oriole soprano recorder, Oriole Dolce Duo (a double flute), and viola. Putting this together was a labor of love!
I wish each one of you a blessed, happy, hopeful, peaceful, and safe Thanksgiving, and many moments of gratitude and thankfulness now and every day!
I could wax poetic about the joys of playing a musical instrument! And indeed, there are many rewards. However, they don’t come at the beginning, when what you hear in your head sounds so much more beautiful than what you’re playing actually brings forth. The rewards wax like the moon, appearing with time, great patience, focused practice, and a healthy sense of humor! Meanwhile, you can still have fun and enjoy learning, as with this piece called “Carousel” that I wrote for viola and ukulele. If you want to learn a musical instrument, realize that it must be learned, that beginners aren’t supposed to sound like professionals–and play on!
“Wilt Heden Nu Treden” is the original Dutch title of the hymn we know as “We Gather Together.” Adrianus Valerius wrote the text in 1597, to celebrate the Dutch victory over Spanish forces at the Battle of Turnhout. The melody is a traditional Dutch folk tune, author unknown. Today the hymn is most often associated with Thanksgiving. You can read the English lyrics here.
I hope you enjoy hearing “We Gather Together” on lyre, viola, and Oriole (soprano) recorder!
The holidays are coming, whether we like them or not, whether we celebrate them or not, and no matter how different our celebrations may be this year than in years past! They are coming nonetheless, and it would be more positive to embrace them than to dread them, or wish they were different!
TO that end, I offer “The More We Get Together,” a Viennese melody composed by Marx Augustin in 1679. Its German title is “Oh du lieber Augustin.” In the United States, the tune is a children’s song, but it’s fun, and as strange as it may seem, also timely. We still need to get together with our loved ones, reach out and make new friends and contacts, etc. Even if our physical gatherings are limited, there are so many ways we can still get together for the holidays and all year long! As the song says, “The more we get together, the happier we’ll be!” I believe this to be true.
Today you’re listening to zither, Oriole (soprano) Recorder, and viola. That’s right, viola. You know, the middle voice of the string section in an orchestra… The instrument with its own individual clef for musical scores… The true alto, tuned a fifth below the violin and an octave above the cello… And the instrument that is the butt of nearly every joke in the orchestra… What? You mean you didn’t know any of that? Then you clearly don’t play viola! 🙂
Well, neither do I, at least not in the traditional sense. I hold the viola upright on my lap, more like a baby cello, and sometimes with a strap for support. Because of neck, shoulder, and back pain, I can’t hold it in shoulder playing position. I even removed the chin rest.
I also have more than normal trouble with the bow, especially in this position. So, I ditched the traditional long bow for a tiny–literally 4 inches long at most–bow meant to be used on acoustic guitar. It works. But it’s so short. This means that right now I can only play short notes, until I can purchase a different bow that’s easier on my right hand and arm. In addition, I’m playing with a rubber practice mute installed, to save my husband and neighbors from the full volume. So, no, I’m not traditional in this case. But dog gone it, I still want to play, and play I do!
I don’t have access to a multi-track device or software, so I recorded the zither, viola, and recorder separately, then mixed them. This takes a lot of time and is frustrating, but for now it will have to do.
One more thing… I know that at least one of my blog followers has perfect pitch. You know who you are. 🙂 Please accept my apology. I’ve had the viola less than a week, and I’m still working on intonation. A viola, like violin, cello, some banjos, etc, has no frets. So, you must learn, by a combination of sound and feel, where the musical intervals are on each string. Of course, there was a sticker on the fingerboard showing pretty colored lines for each note! But not being able to see made this a hindrance rather than a help, and I removed that as well. Correct intonation/pitch is the bane of every violinist’s, violist’s, and cellist’s beginning days. I’m not a total beginner, but it’s been years since I picked up a violin or viola. My intonation will improve, and thanks for bearing with me in the meantime!
Anglican bishop Reginald Heber wrote the lyrics to “Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty!” but the hymn was not published until after his death. The melody is called “Nicaea” and was composed by John Bacchus Dykes. This hymn endures into the 21st century in many Christian denominations. I remember singing it as a child, in celebration of the Trinity.
I hope you enjoy this arrangement on alto recorder and lyre!
“Over the River and Through the Wood” is a Thanksgiving poem written by Lydia Maria Child. It was first published in 1844 as “The New-England Boy’s Song about Thanksgiving Day.” An anonymous musician set the poem to the tune we know today. You may find it interesting to read Over the River and Through the Wood: 7 Fun Facts
by New England Historical Society, while you listen to this fun song on lyre and alto recorder!
“Day by Day” is a popular hymn, translated from the Swedish, “Blott en dag.” Karolina Wilhelmina Sandell-Berg wrote the lyrics in 1865, several years after witnessing her father’s tragic death by drowning. In 1872 Oscar Ahnfelt wrote the melody we still sing today. The Swedish lyrics were translated by Andrew L. Skoog, and the hymn first appeared in American hymnals in the 1920s. Though it is often sung at funeral services, “Day by Day” offers a comforting message at any time:
Day by day, and with each passing moment,
Strength I find, to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment,
I’ve no cause for worry or for fear.
He Whose heart is kind beyond all measure
Gives unto each day what He deems best-
Lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest.
I hope you enjoy listening to this hymn on alto recorder and lyre!
Pronounced “Sheebeg, Sheemore,” this Irish folk tune is often attributed to Turlough O’Carolan. “Sí” means “fairy mound.” “Sí Bheag” and “Sí Mhór” are two hills in Ireland’s County Leitrim, said to be ancient burial sites.
This is a beautiful piece, whether played as an air or a waltz–as it is here, and I hope you enjoy it on zither!