My general process for these hymns is as follows:
- First I transcribe the SATB (Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass) hymn from the hymnal to a program called MuseScore.
- Using MuseScore, I transpose the parts from SATB to the 4 clarinet parts.
- I count the measures and generate a click track for the hymn in Audacity, so I can keep in sync with myself.
- At this point I play through the parts with only Soprano Clarinet, top to bottom, to get a rough idea of the melody and feel of the hymn. Also, if there are any serious technical challenges.
- After the initial recording, I usually let myself think about it for a day, or at least a period of hours, letting ideas about phrasing and tempo percolate.
- I start with the bass clarinet part and build the hymn from the bottom up, finishing with the Melody/Soprano part. Lately, I’ve been playing through the hymns at least twice.
- I mix these parts, panning them to different points in the left sound field.
- Then I repeat, starting again from the Bass Part and mix them to percentage pans of the right sound field.
- Finally, I tweak the mix, remove the click track, apply an Audacity reverb effect, and export the parts to mp3 and wav.
- On to the next hymn!
The whole process probably takes 4 hours per hymn, more or less, depending on the complexity and length.
After finishing the first rough recording of Number 43, “Once in Royal David’s City”, I had an impulse to mess around a bit with Audacity Effects on that track.
I’d been reading about creating distortion effects, using the Leveller and Compression effects, so I started there.
At this point, I was kind of thinking it sounded pretty synth-esque, so I applied some more effects to increase the plasticity.
It was now pretty cool, sounding a bit like the Stranger Things sound track, but there was something that I was thinking. It sort of had the character of the music I associate with Nintendo games, but it needed to be faster.
Change Speed 2x
Ah, yes, now that brings a smile to my face.
Ahem, and now, with “Once in Royal David’s City”, we return you to your regularly scheduled Lutheran Hymns played on clarinets.
Meter: 8 7, 8 7, 77.
Tempo: Slowly. May be sung in unison.
Music: Henry J. Gauntlett, 1805-76
Text: Cecil Frances Alexander, 1823-95
The music is a bit folky, but the text of this hymn is not a super-awesome, I especially like how in verse three Alexander slips in some suggestions for how Christian children should behave.
“And through all his wondrous childhood
He would honor and obey,
Love and watch the lowly maiden,
In whose gentle arms he lay;
Christian children all must be
Mild, obedient, good as he.
Perhaps he was going through some tough times at home.
Here’s the clarinet arrangement: 041-onceinroyaldavidscity
For the hymn proper, I took the usual tack, doubling all parts. Since the hymn is a bit busy, I used the “Medium Room” Reverb effect, instead of the usual “Church Hall”.