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Tónskáld

Sleep, Happy Child (Christmas song)

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Posted (edited)

This is a piece for a capella SATB choir, 4- or 8-part. The recording will give you nightmares so listen at your own risk (I had to sing and record each part separately—with a little help from a pitch alterer for those soprano and alto notes). Don't get too crazy with the recording; it's far from perfect, and it's really just an approximation of what a choir might sound like singing it. I also made some changes to the lyrics so what's sung doesn't always match what's written.

I'm mostly interested in feedback on the piece's musicality. I'm hoping it reflects the meaning conveyed in the lyrics (the score has those). Writing for human voices is probably my favorite form of musical composition, and I had a TON of fun putting this one together. If all goes well, it will be played at a local college's Christmas candlelight service!

As always, I look forward to your input! Thanks in advance!

Edited by Tónskáld
Edit: I've attached the updated version of the score—feedback welcome!
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I'm actually impressed that you were able to pull together a demo of such good quality.  It's not the easiest music and doing multi-track recording is an art of its own. 

William Blake's poetry is always a great place to start.  I assume you're aware of the place of this particular poem in history, but for anyone else out there reading this later, this was part of Blake's "Songs of Innocence" and "Songs of Experience," written in response to reporting of horrific child labor conditions in Britain.  Blake, and later Dickens, and Elizabeth Barrett-Browning, among others, tried to use their literary skills to change hearts and minds and get legal reforms passed to protect children from poor backgrounds from abusive working conditions.  Blake did a lot of contrasting of innocent, peaceful childhood with the more common fates of children at the time.  

The harmonies in your first "sleep, sleep" section do a nice job of foreshadowing that line between sweetness and danger, very appropriately to the text and larger context of this poem, and then "all creation slept and smiled" is just lovely, and you keep turning the dial back and forth on the tension throughout the piece.  It works very well.  

Conventionally, here in the US, your tenor line should use a different clef, if you write this out as four separate staffs, but I don't know what is common with publishers where you are.  

It might be helpful to provide a piano reduction for rehearsals.

Sounds lovely!  I hope you get a recording of the Candlelight Service!

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@pateceramics I was worried the beginning dissonance would come across as out of place, but I'm glad you saw (or heard) it in context!

I also forgot to attach the updated score. It seems so foreign to me to hear bass notes sounding in the treble clef, so I always change the tenor to bass clef when I'm writing the music. Then without fail I forget to change it back! 😂I totally forgot about a piano reduction; I'll fix that in the very near future!

Your feedback is extremely helpful... and hopefully they'll choose this piece for the service!

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I attached the updated score. You can download it in the first post of this thread. I'd appreciate any feedback/pointers you may have.

Thanks!

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I'd double check your key signatures compared to your markings of accidentals.  For example, at letter C you have an Eb marked in the soprano part.  There is already an Eb in the key signature.  

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2 hours ago, pateceramics said:

I'd double check your key signatures compared to your markings of accidentals.  For example, at letter C you have an Eb marked in the soprano part.  There is already an Eb in the key signature.  

 

Yep, and an F# in the alto line a few measures later. I would think Sibelius would have automatically fixed that... never thought to check. Thanks for pointing that out!

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