What self respecting robot doesn’t love a rousing round of Holiday carols? Here are four carols presented by my house robot band, The Singing Sines, including two where they decide to sing.
The first track, ‘Hark! The Herald Robots Sing!’ was actually recorded back in 2007, but has been remastered for this release. ‘Hark!..’ is a whimsical electro look at ‘Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!’ with a strong four-on-the-floor dance hall feel. My desire was to create a fun and upbeat version of ‘Hark…’ that would appeal to both fans of traditional carols and modern electronic music.
Of note: ‘Hark!…’ features the first known recording of my house robot choir, The Singing Sines. As this was their first time in my studio they were obviously nervous and had trouble enunciating at times.
The original, ‘Hark! The Herald Angels Sing’ has a very interesting history. The lyrics predate the commonly heard music by over a hundred years. Charles Wesley wrote the original, somber hymn in 1739. His co-worker George Whitefield then changed the lyrics to what we commonly hear today. The music that we commonly hear for ‘Hark…’ is actually from a secular cantata written by Felix Mendelssohn in 1840 to commemorate the invention of the Gutenberg printing press. It wasn’t until 1855 that William Cummings combined the Whitefield lyrics with the Mendelssohn music to create the song we all love and recognize today.
I have always loved the ‘Ukranian Bell Song’ (more commonly known as ‘Carol of the Bells’), primarily because unlike most Christmas songs, it is in a minor key. This minor key made it very easy to imagine the song played out in a dark, almost evil setting. When I did my original version back in 1992 I took this dark and evil inspiration and put it into song. At the time I was working with old 4 voice MODtracker software, so that version is very simplistic and rough. This is my 2011 take on my original version. It is not your everyday, take home to Mom version.
The ‘Ukranian Bell Song’ was originally written in 1904 by Ukranian composer Mykola Leontovych and based on a traditional pre-Christian folk chant used during the spring to welcome the new year in the Ukraine. So like many Christmas songs, this one has its origins in a very non-Christmas past.
‘Good King Wenceslas’ is a truly international Christmas carol. The melody itself is from a 13th century Finnish spring carol. The lyrics we know today were written in the mid 1800′s by English hymnwriter John Mason Neale. The lyrics are based on the legends/myths/stories/histories of an actual Bohemian Duke, Saint Wenceslaus I, who was immediately considered a martyr for his good deeds upon his assassination in 935.
This carol is told more like a story than most carols, with a third person narrator and two main characters. As such, I decided to present it as a story played out by three voices. I had my robot choir, The Singing Sines, break into three groups, the Narrator, the King, and the Page and try to bring something different to each character. The results: A light airy narrator style, a mild, if not worried, page style, and a stern and noble king style. I do believe the group that worked on the King imagined themselves as William Shatner.
This was all placed over an aggressive and glitch enhanced dub step style music track. It came together quite nicely. Well played Singing Sines, well played.
Any quality Holiday collection should include at least one slower, quiet song, and this final beautiful, lesser known carol fills that need and fits in nicely with the other three pieces.
The music for ‘Bring a Torch, Jeannette Isabelle’ was originally written as a dance for French nobility in the 16th century. It became more well known as a Christmas carol after its English translation in the 18th century.
Pianos, strings, a slow pulsating bassline, and a complete lack of percussion fulfill all that is needed for this beautiful waltz. The nice thing when working with such a piece is that I can focus on the melody by allowing subtle accompaniments to fall in around the melody. After the first three songs, the listener can calm down and just drift along with this one.
If you like what you hear, the download button in the player will take you to my store where you can purchase one or all of the tracks on this EP. The EP is available on a pay-what-you-want basis, including free.
Thank you for your interest in my music. I appreciate all of my fans who take the time to listen and/or download my songs.
Hark! The Herald Robots Sing!
Music: Felix Mendelssohn (1840)
Lyrics: Charles Wesley (Mid 18th century)
Ukranian Bell Song
Music: Mykola Leontovych (1904)
Good King Wenceslas
Music: Finnish traditional (13th century)
Lyrics: John Mason Neale (19th century)
Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabelle
Music: French traditional (16th century)
All songs arranged and produced by Jim Furey.
Recorded and mastered at The Robot Junkyard.
Published by MixiM Music.
Copyright 2011, Jim Furey