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Ding Dong! Merrily on High

Ding Dong Merrily on High is a Christmas Carol, and in this picture is a book with the words "A Christmas Carol" on it, as well as assorted christmas decorations.

An exciting arrangement of “Ding Dong Merrily on High” that will challenge the choir whilst still providing interest and variety for all parts.

Arranged for SATB Choir (without accompaniment) by Ben Clapton, each part takes the melody at some stage. As such all parts are actively challenging and highlighted throughout the performance.

Initially arranged in 5/4, the verse has a sort of Mission:Impossible, uneven waltz feel to it. Then in the chorus, it changes to 7/8 which brings the waltz feel into the other direction. In closing, there is a standard arrangement of the verse and chorus in 4/4, which utilises rich harmonies and intersecting parts that brings to life the “evetime song” that exclaims “Hosanna in Excelsis!” 

All parts have opportunities to take the melody. The altos take the first verse, and the sopranos take on the melisma in the chorus. The Second verse sees the tenors take on the melody, while the sopranos once again take on the melismatic chorus, being joined by the altos in a descending line that brings out the waltz falling over itself feel. Finally, in the third verse in 4/4, the Basses take on the melody with the upper parts providing the rich harmonies, with the final choruses passed between the female and male voices.

About Ding Dong Merrily on High

The well-known melody first appeared as a French secular dance known as “Branle de l’Official” in a dance book written by Jehan Tabourot. George Ratcliffe Woodward later penned the English lyrics to “Ding Dong Merrily on High” and was first published in 1924. Then Charles Wood added a harmonisation to the French Melody. While the carol is in English, it is particularly noted for the refrain which is in Latin, in which the vowel sound “o” of Gloria is extended to a 33 syllable long lyric through a lengthy melismatic melodic sequence.

Gloria, Hosanna in excelsis!

(Glory! Hosanna in the highest!)

Buy Ding Dong! Merrily on High at Sheet Music Press

“Ding Dong!” SATB Arrangement (Unaccompanied) of Ding Dong Merrily on High. List price: $9.99.

More Arrangements and Compositions by Ben Clapton

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Nullabor

A minimalist piano piece inspired by a road trip across the Nullabor, the stretch of road between Adelaide and Perth in Australia.

After an interrupted start, it expands into a molto perpetuo that depicts the continuous movement as you drive across this large continent. It expands, and changes in style, yet there is familiarity through the sections. It then cuts – almost abruptly – into a slower, reflective space. Driving across for the first time, there is a sense of awe that comes at certain parts, as you reflect on what you are doing. But that reflection can’t last forever, and it transitions back into the molto perpetuo once again. The piece closes with more reflection, remembering the incredible journey.

This piece would be excellent for a recital or performance. Length: 13-14 minutes. If you are performing this piece, please let me know through my socials – Ben Clapton Music on all the platforms – or as a comment below – so that I can send through some encouragement.

Solo Piano Composition. List Price: US$6.97.Buy it here.

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The Stations of the Cross

For String Quartet and Narration. Composed 2014. 4 Movements. AUD$40.

 

A number of years ago now, when I was 21, I was housesitting over Easter. I watched The Passion of Christ on Good Friday. Through watching it, and thinking about music (as I was want to do at the time, studying Classical Music), I realised that there weren’t many compositions that explored this idea of the Stations of the Cross. While there are many examples of pieces relating to Easter, such as Bach’s St Matthew Passion or St John Passion, I couldn’t think of any that actually combine the stories as is found in the Stations of the Cross. Part of the reason is probably because many versions of the Stations of the Cross include extra-biblical material – that is, parts that have been accepted into the stations through tradition, and weren’t actually biblical. So I decided that I would start writing a piece based upon the Stations of the Cross.

First, I found a version of The Stations of the Cross to follow, which was the one that Pope John Paul II followed in 1991, which I chose because the 14 stations were based on passages from the bible narratives. Of the 14 passages, there’s 3 from Matthew, 3 from Mark, 5 from Luke, and 3 from John. I decided to write for String Quartet and Narration, mainly because I knew how to write for strings, and would be able to utilise the colours and effects effectively to evoke the text. In terms of overall arrangement, I decided that it would work best in 4 movements – the first covering the first 6 stations, then the second with stations 7 to 9, the third with stations 10 to 12, and the final movement with stations 13 and 14.

I originally wanted to base this work from a relatively popular translation of the text, however the number of verses was more than their fair use policy allowed, and upon seeking out permission to use it, I was going to be charged a large amount to use the text, for a licence that would only last 3 years. (As it’s been 7 years since I started this, I’m glad I didn’t shell out the money). As such, the text comes from the Open English Bible, an “open source” Bible released into the public domain. The Narration is notated, but is only intended as a guide as to where it starts, and roughly where it finishes. The narration is intended to sound as natural as possible, but lining up with the elements in the music.

I started by writing prose notes to describe my thoughts as to how each of the four movements would come together. The notes that follow are largely based off those notes, along with what it actually ended up as. Continue reading The Stations of the Cross