Sunday, 19 December 2010

Bleak Wording

We've only had a slight dusting of snow this time around, so the service took place today taken by one of our members with participation from others. Once again I was music maestro please, although I can't read music as such. The system we've got, where I've prepared a CD, and sit behind a curtain and deliver, is virtually as good as having an organist. I sit where the organist once sat, and now the congregation is trained to follow a fixed delivery of music, and does not expect the 'organist' to make any adjustments towards the singing. Plus the music can be an organ, a piano, any instruments, and can vary.

The church soon gets an installed sound system. I (pictured, drawing by Lesley) or anyone else will have the use of a double CD player, a mixing desk, incredibly powerful speakers, a new additional fixed radio microphone and the capacity for expansion via the mixing desk (for example if using computer files via a laptop). We'll have the sound in stereo. CDs or any other method of delivery can be prearranged or just use the double thing. I'll be like a church DJ, able to move sliders and the rest. Cue the music.

We've already renewed books. An old hymn book died a death recently with a new book delivered that behaves like a supplement. The carol booklet was different too, but some had words changed. Some of these word changes are awful.

We wanted to use the Harold Darke (I discovered it was by him) tune for In the Bleak Midwinter, and I sourced some music. Unfortunately the music wasn't helpful for an untrained congregation to sing it, and sound wave editing couldn't smooth anything out sufficiently. So given the existence of a .MID file (computer generated) I was able to produce music writing (excuse my ignorance regarding the correct terms) and do a lot of copying and pasting took place at that 'music processing' writing level. Each redoing of the written music produced a sound file of new instrumentation on a chamber music template and thus produced a verse 1 with an intro, verses 2 and 3 that were verse 1 without the intro, and a verse 4 that took account of the bizarre fact that the last verse had a last line of five syllables not three. Saved as sound files (.OGG), a sound editor then joined them together via waveform copying and pasting. No human was involved in playing an instrument at any stage. I'd made other efforts with this, indeed created a Cranham version too, nice and simple, but this effort at editing took a couple of hours due to mistakes made and learning fast.

I'm going to reproduce the terrible last verse so people with a sensitive disposition should look away. What on earth these words mean I do not know, but they are surely worse than the original. I have no idea what this 'magic spell' could be.

Once more child and mother
Weave their magic spell,
Touching hearts with wonder
Words can never tell:
In the bleak mid-winter
In this world of pain,
Where our hearts are open
Christ is born again.

Stuck between a mythical rock and a hard place we sensitive Unitarian types may as well just have the old words and hold our noses. Some folks stayed away because it was Christmas based today, and after all that's why they ARE in a Unitarian chapel after all.


Lesley said...

Oh dear! I think we use the same carol sheets when we sing in the pub and everyone has the wtf expression on their faces!

Pluralist (Adrian Worsfold) said...

You've just given me an idea...