Monday, January 5, 2009

Proof of Concept

The Kenwood Players did five old time hymns over at Oak Chapel on Sunday, mostly as simple instrumentals, and it went well. Both members of the congregation and of the players had good things to say about the experience. For me it demonstrated that just having some real orchestral instruments playing very simply arranged music in a small setting can elicit a good response from people.

The idea for part books of hymns for various instruments is a good one, though there's probably not going to be a generic version that will work in all cases, unless the harmonies are reduced to mostly I, IV and V chords with very simple accompanying riffs behind the melody. 

Another issue is that so far as I can see, no matter how old the hymn, collectors always use the exact same version in the same key in all the different hymn books. On the plus side, that means people are going to remember and associate that key with the hymn. Levitin says when folks are asked to sing well known songs, they very often match the pitches of the original.

The down side of the fixed key is that it's bound to not work well for some people's vocal range. Seems the answer might be to have a sort of appendix with small print versions of the song in several different keys.

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