29.12.05

THE OLD FAMILIAR CAROLS. Enroute to points north, I discovered a radio station that was playing nothing but Christmas carols (with the secular seasonals such as Sleigh Ride and Jingle Bells thrown in, which got me thinking about the physics of horse-drawn sleighs, but I'm still puzzling out what sort of snow would be conducive to "dashing through.") I claim no particular expertise in Christmas carols (that's William Studwell's job) but note some evolutions in the form, not all positive. The station had a limited playlist, sometimes offering more than one arrangement of a piece. O Holy Night received multiple playings, and the line "And in His Name all oppression shall cease" got me wondering how much of his Church's history Placide Clappeau knew. That he's French and the work is from the late Romantic era suggests something. The station also played something new in the mega-church style (modern harmonies, some brass, some singing kids, some contemporary phrasing) but as the entire program was pre-packaged without introductions I don't know what I heard.

I am hereby lodging a humbug against some pop arrangements of the standards. The absence of introductions hampers informed commentary. But if a fashionable young female singer is going to do Silent Night, it detracts to edit out all the difficult words and end each verse with "sleep in heavenly peace," no matter how sweet the sentiments.

Enroute south, I played the River City Ragtime Band's Christmas in Dixieland. The band's promotional material correctly notes,
Applying the Dixieland style to Christmas music is not sacrilegious. In fact, when the music was played to a minister, he suggested that the River City Ragtime Band was fulfilling the Biblical edict: "Make a Joyful Noise Until the Lord, All Ye Lands." The River City Ragtime Band interprets the word "Lands" to include "Bands."
True enough. That said, Go Tell it on the Mountain adapts to jazz combo better than, say, Good King Wenceslas.

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