Hard Times Come Again No More #Music

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If I didn’t know better, I would say this song could have been written just yesterday. That’s how relevant it still is. Yet the American songwriter, Stephen Foster, especially known for his Civil War-era songs, wrote “Hard Times Come Again No More” in 1854. The song asks the fortunate to consider those less fortunate than themselves–something we would all do well to consider.

It was originally written in the key of G, making it a breeze for banjo, guitar, and fiddle players. Here I play it in C, on zither and recorder, and you’ll hear me sing 3 verses.

We all know that hard times will come again, unfortunately. Still I hope you enjoy this arrangement of Foster’s timely classic!

Trentham/Breathe on Me, Breath of God #Music

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“Trentham” was composed by the British organist, Robert Jackson, in 1878. It is one of several musical settings for the hymn, “Breathe on Me, Breath of God.”

The lyrics were written by Edwin Hatch, also in 1878. They are based on John 20:21-22, which read, “Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost.” [King James Version (KJV)]

This is a hymn for Pentocost, but this being the coming of the Holy Spirit, it is a beautiful hymn at any time of year.

I hope you enjoy this arrangement played on alto (UK treble) recorder and zither!

“Sweet Blessings” by Anne Crosby Gaudet #Music

This beautiful piece was composed by Anne Crosby Gaudet. She is a wonderful harpist, pianist, teacher, composer, and arranger from Canada. “Sweet Blessings” is an elementary level harp piece that’s easy and comfortable to learn and play. Anne kindly gave her permission for me to share “Sweet Blessings” on Mystical Strings! I’m playing zither (also called plucked psaltery), because the ringing metal strings are especially lovely.

Anne’s performance video can be found
here,
and her video tutorial for learning part of the piece is
here.
I used both the performance video and the tutorial to learn “Sweet Blessings” and picked out the rest by ear.

If you read sheet music, you can
purchase “Sweet Blessings” here.

I’m not affiliated with Anne or her shop. I just really enjoy hearing and playing this piece, and her teaching style is warm, accessible, encouraging, and helpful!

Even though this is a harp piece, you can use the video, tutorial, and/or sheet music to learn it on another instrument, the same way I learned it on zither. You’ll be glad you did!

Thank you, Anne, for your wonderful music and teaching time and for allowing me to share this piece!

Lullaby of the Ages DSE #10 #Music

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I wrote this song in June. You can listen to the lyre arrangement with lyrics
here.

Today you’re hearing alto recorder, then lyre and zither played together. The melody is on zither, with accompaniment on lyre. Note the bell-like ringing in this arrangement, made possible by having two sets of strings.

This is the tenth and final piece in my
Double Strung Experiment Series.

The next time you hear mention of double strung something, it will be a harp! I’ve had fun and learned a lot while arranging and playing this series, but I will also be glad to sit in a chair and play! I’ve been sitting cross-legged on the floor to make room for holding the lyre and zither balanced precariously on my lap!

I hope you enjoy this piece, and as always, I appreciate any comments and feedback you want to share!

Thanks, and thank you for listening!

Gratitude DSE #9 #Music

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I wrote this piece in 2010, on a small Celtic lap harp on which I took a few lessons. I’ve lost that old harp recording, but you can listen to a ukulele version with lyrics
here.

This piece is also part of my
Zither Review,
as well as the
Lynda Lyre Review
I posted in March.

So, why this piece, and why am I sharing it yet again?

First, it’s a calming melody written especially for healing music sessions, and who doesn’t need more of that? 🙂

Second, this is the ninth in the
Double Strung Experiment Series.

Now you can hear the piece as if it had two voices. That is, the melody is echoed, and two sets of strings put the echo in the same octave, similar to the ukulele version, instead of one being an octave higher than the other.

If this makes your head spin, pay it no mind, and just enjoy listening! You will understand. 🙂

If you’ve read and listened this far, I really appreciate it! I’d also love to know if you have a favorite out of the versions I’ve linked here!

Swing Low, Sweet Chariot #Music

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There’s an all too rare appearance of alto recorder along with zither today! The recorder tends to be loud, so I put a makeshift mute on it. Unfortunately, it flattens the pitch along with making it quieter. But I hope you still enjoy listening to this familiar tune, an African-American spiritual first recorded in 1909 by Fisk University’s Fisk Jubilee Singers.

Fall Letter to God #Poem #Music

“Wings of Autumn,” original song on zither. After the poem is the ukulele version with lyrics.

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Fall Letter to God

Dear God,

Thank you for the changing seasons!

I’m really glad the pollen count goes down in Fall,
or does it?
We really don’t know anymore,
but you do!
I’m also glad for that!

I’m so grateful for the ability,
the opportunity,
the decision,
and the courage to talk to you!

There are some things I need to say.
I dare not discuss them with my fellow humans,
because everyone is so darn touchy nowadays!
They would think I was talking about them,
when really I’m talking about myself!

Nevertheless, Thy will be done!
Every now and then,
at least once in a blue moon,
would it be too much trouble
to have a day when I’m not sizzling inside like hot lava,
feeling angry at you-know-who (not you, the human I live with),
or worse, making him angry with me
by simply expressing an opinion
that doesn’t match his?

You know
it’s not just the current world crisis
making us this way.
It’s been like this
our entire marriage!
I say that
as if we’ve been married a long time.
But it’s only been 18 months!
And every month,
every week,
every day,
sometimes every hour,
it gets worse and worse!

Is it true what he seems to think,
that marriage means always
and
forever
saying
and
doing
what your partner wants,
just because he thinks it’s best?
And that
doing things this way
promotes harmony
in the relationship?

You’re heaps wiser
than either of us
will ever be!
So, I know
that you know!
Please, God!
Help me know the truth!

Am I insane?
Unreasonable?
Crazy?
Delusional?
Wrong?
Ungrateful?
Argumentative?
And all the other things
he claims?
Am I
really
that
bad?

If I am,
why doesn’t he leave?
After all, he’s the one
with all the money,
whereas I have none!

So, if I were in his place,
living with someone
I thought was so terrible,
I would leave!
Not sit around
complaining about it!

Please, God!
I need help!
And I know
you already know
what I have need of
before I ask!

I call upon your
love,
healing,
wisdom,
creativity,
and humor
(Or is it humour?),
and whatever else you grant me,
not to change anyone else!
But to change me
as you see fit!
Make me like a babbling brook,
always moving merrily along,
never getting stuck or stagnant,
so that I may live a life,
regardless of the people in it,
that is pleasing
to
you
and
you
alone!

Thank you, God,
for your time
and Almighty attention
to this matter!

Yours Truly,

Crystal


My response to Linda Kruschke’s
Paint Chip Poetry Prompt #39, Yours Truly.

Wings of Autumn on Ukulele

Enjoy the song with lyrics
here.

Scotland the Brave #Music

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This is a traditional Highland Bagpipe tune. I played it on a small, but still loud!, practice bagpipe many years ago, as well as on pennywhistle and soprano recorder. Here it is on zither, an instrument you’re probably familiar with if you’ve been following my blog for any length of time. It’s also called a plucked psaltery or lap harp. I hope you enjoy this fun tune!

“Little Boat” DSE #8 #Music

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I wrote “Little Boat” last month in response to one of
Sue Vincent’s
weekly #Writephoto prompts. If you haven’t heard the original lyre version, including lyrics, you can find it
here.

Today I’m playing the song on two instruments, melody on zither and accompaniment on lyre. This is the eighth in my series of
double strung experiments.

When I started, I didn’t plan on a series of them, maybe just one or two, to see whether, and if so how, I would handle having two sets of strings to play, with one set for each hand. Well, It’s been a success, and I’ve enjoyed arranging pieces to demonstrate the possibilities offered by this unique stringing. And the series was born!

When I do get a double strung harp at some point, I will record these pieces again, so we can all experience the real McCoy! Until then, I hope you’re enjoying these pieces in which the lyre and zither play at the same time!

Thank you for reading, listening, and leaving your comments and feedback!

Bon voyage!

“Kumbaya” DSE #7 #Music

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“Kumbaya,” also spelled “Kum Ba Ya,” is a well-known campfire song. I know I spent many happy Saturday nights around a campfire singing it as a child. Even those who couldn’t sing managed to catch on and make an effort.

No one really knows the song’s origin; in fact, there’s been some controversy surrounding it, as
this article
points out. To me it was, and still is, a common song that I, personally, have used to bring people together.

This is number seven in my
double strung experiments.
You will hear the melody played on zither, which has steel strings, and harmony on the lyre with softer, nylon strings. Notes of the melody and harmony echo each other at times. This is one of the many fascinating effects available on a double strung harp. As usual, it’s easier heard than explained, so I ask that you have a listen, and enjoy this peaceful arrangement!