December 9, 2013
Christmas A Cappella Mashups
I love this time of year. There's a renewed focus on family, generosity, joy, and wonder, and to me, the feeling in the air is palpable. True, we sometimes get wrapped up in the more superficial aspects, but it seems even those often stem from nobler sentiments. So each year I like to do something artistic, something that hopefully captures a bit of what I value about the holiday season. And this year, I tried something a little unusual that combined several of my passions - music, technology, and almost a mathematical or scientific experimentation. In the process, I tried to maintain a respect for the old with a nod to the new.
I started with a list of traditional Christmas songs, and I organized them into three categories: 3/4 time in a minor key, 3/4 time in a major key, and 4/4 time in a major key. I wanted to experiment with a "mashup" of songs of similar character such that overlapping them might create a new and interesting twist. I looked for three songs in each category which felt similar, unique in their own right, but sharing common attributes that made them feel like musical siblings. Then I recorded simple piano versions which I used my computer to overlap in different ways. I tried my best not to change any of the songs too much, but allow them to interact as they may. What I discovered was an organized chaos with happy accidents of lovely harmonies and interesting dissonance. Then, as a sucker for a cappella music and Christmas carols, I set about the task of turning them into Christmas A Cappella Mashups. I completed one in the 4/4 major key category, and one in the 3/4 minor key category:
"Christmas A Cappella Major Mashup" consists of Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, Angels We Have Heard On High, and O Come All Ye Faithful. "Christmas A Cappella Minor Mashup" consists of Shchedryk (made popular with lyrics as Carol of the Bells), What Child Is This?, and We Three Kings.
For those of you who are so busy you find it hard to fit everything in, where in our modern multi-tasking culture we believe we must squeeze as much as possible into every moment to get as much as possible out of every moment, consider this my time-saving way to pack six Christmas carols, three at a time, in under four minutes. Who says you can't have it all?
So in the spirit of the season, I offer these as my gift to you. Feel free to download and share as you wish. I did get them professionally mastered (shout out to my man Earle Holder), because I wanted them to sound as good as possible. I wish you a Merry Christmas, and a joyous holiday in however you choose to celebrate.