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Recording: Christmas Carols from the Attic

For many years, particularly in the month of December, I have been playing Christmas Carols in an arrangement by Peter Gerits. They are transparent two part arrangements of twelve well-known Dutch Christmas Carols, although a number of them have international versions too.

For a long time (as well), my wife had the idea to send a CD with these home-played Christmas Carols as a season’s greeting. For some reason (;-) stage fright, maybe?), I never started it in time nor completed it, even though I bought my little Tascam and recorded all kinds of pieces.

This year after the feast of St. Nicholas (Fifth of December) I picked up the little Christmas Carol collection by Gerits again. To my great satisfaction the routine of years had remained, so I decided on a certain evening in December to switch on the microphones and record them all in an ad-hoc fashion. Christmas Carols from the Attic!

I’ll start with an overview of the carols, I guess many people know them! 1. Gloria in Excelsis Deo (Angels we heard on high), 2. Komt Allen tezamen (Adeste Fidelis), 3. ’t Is geboren het Goddelijk Kind, 4. Hoe leit dit Kindeke, 5. Er is een Roos ontsprongen, 6. Nu zijt Wellekome, 7. De Herdertjes lagen bij Nachte, 8. Slaap nu, mijn Jezuke, 9. Te Bethlehem geboren, 10. Herders, Hij is geboren, 11. Maria die zoude naar Bethlehem gaan, 12. Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht (Silent Night). Note that most of the titles are Dutch, I hope that you’ll recognize the melodies!

The remarkable thing of this session was, that I intended to record them all. Not only one, not as far as I can get, no, just all. We shall continue, the late Dutch cabaret performer and artist Ramses Shaffy used to sing. Normally I tend to feel discouraged if some recordings fail, but this time failure was not in my book.

I had to adjust a little, because normally I play these pieces at a relatively high tempo, more like guitar pieces than like carols. To do so, I rehearsed the pieces once at a deliberate lower tempo before activating the record button.

After rehearsal it was time for the recording. A remarkable session indeed, because eight out of twelve pieces did not require an extra recording, I felt good about them. The remaining pieces did require a few attempts, because I was not quite satisfied. Particularly the fragile arrangements of Hoe leit dit Kindeke, Er is een Roos ontsprongen and Slaap nu, mijn Jezuke needed some extra attention.

I had made up my mind to wait a day before listening to the results in great detail. The only things I did were a bit of “cutting the tape” and adding my standard settings for reverb. Nothing else.

After listening to the results the next day, I was reasonably satisfied (which is quite good, considering my usual self-criticism). My wife had a valuable remark: “You did not sing along with all pieces!” Naturally she meant singing along inside my head! I do not consider my singing suitable for recording! I found that she was right, with some pieces I was occupied recording and playing a guitar piece rather than a carol. Singing along and breathing in my mind will be a point of attention next time.

Because there was a deadline for the season’s greetings (before you know, the season will be over), I did burn the recordings on CD, made a cover and wrote a little text to it. I have received a few positive reactions about the music! Moreover now I have a nice season’s greeting for the DOS Amigos Homepage.

What I learned from this session: Aim for a target, I want to record this and that, keep your good faith and do not hesitate to re-attempt the pieces that you are not satisfied with. Sometimes it helps to record the pieces in another sequence than you normally play them.

Below you have the option to play the pieces. Before playing a new piece, stop the one which is currently playing, else you will get a most interesting musical clash!

Playback:

Gloria in Excelsis Deo (Angels We've Heard On High)

Komt allen Tezamen (Adeste, Fidelis)

'T is Geboren het Goddelijk Kind

Hoe leit dit Kindeke

Er is een Roos ontsprongen

Nu zijt Wellekome

De Herdertjes lagen bij Nachte

Slaap nu, mijn Jezuke

Te Bethlehem geboren

Herders, Hij is geboren

Maria zoude naar Bethlehem gaan

Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht(Silent Night)