Monday, December 1, 2014

The Christmas Music Zone

It's now December, which means it's safe to listen to Christmas music everywhere you go and not get the stink eye. I know that many of you have your favorites, but there's always room for more fantastic Christmas music in your repertoire - especially if you don't want to hear "Blue Christmas" for the tenth time today.

"Deck the Halls" Mannheim Steamroller

When I start listening to Christmas music, this selection from Mannheim Steamroller's Christmas album is usually one of the first things I queue up.

The reason I love it: It reminds me of decorating the Christmas tree when I was a kid, as well as my siblings and I having pantomime concerts featuring this music.


"Glory to God" Glad

This is not a familiar Christmas carol. Instead, it's derived from the angels' words in Luke 2.

The reason I love it: This is one that I as a musician love to dissect, and break down each part that is sung. I loved it so much, I actually wrote out the parts in college and had a group sing it!


"Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" Doug Hammer

A new addition to my Christmas favorites, I bought the sheet music to this one. It might take me a while to conquer.

The reason I love it: Of all the festive carols, this one usually ranks near the end of my rankings. However, this take on "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" is simple and soft - a treatment that this piece usually doesn't have.



"Gloria" Michael W. Smith

Even though this piece was released 25 years ago, I didn't hear it until college. Even though I'm only showing the final piece here, the whole album should be listened to from start to finish to really get the most out of it.

The reason I love it: While the carol is timeless, the arrangement of this piece has a lot of '80s vibes to it. I especially love the - what would you call it? - synth harpsichord at the beginning!


"Ding! Dong! Merrily on High" Canadian Brass

If you have lived all your years in the dark about the amazement of the Canadian Brass, then I really need to educate you. A fan of any sort of brass instrument should pick this one up.

The reason I love it: The piece builds up, with the beautiful chords and full sound hitting ears brilliantly.



"First Snow" Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Some people are obsessed with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra...and I am not one of them. They have a few good songs, but there's only one song that I love to bits, and that's this one.

The reason I love it: TSO thinks that they need to add aggressive vocals to a lot of their songs, which they don't need to do. This one is purely instrumental - with a rock/orchestral kick - that really keeps it fresh.

Oh, and I chose to use a house decorated and tuned with the song because that's so much fun!


"Carol of the Bells" David Foster

This might be one that you heard on the radio but never knew who did it. Well, David Foster is a popular Canadian music producer and arranger and has worked with Earth, Wind, and Fire, Kenny Loggins, and Chicago. And it seems like any time I hear a song he arranged, I go, "That's fantastic!"

The reason I love it: I tire easily of all the different "Carol of the Bells" iterations that are out there, but this one adds a B melody along with a fantastic ending that starts at 2:08.



I hope maybe you've found some new music to add to your Christmas playlist! Enjoy, and Merry Christmas!

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