Case Study: adapting music for amateur choir

A trained soprano approached me recently about adapting a famous Buddhist song, arranged for four-part voice, for a 45-person amateur choir, pianist, cello, and saxophone. Continue reading “Case Study: adapting music for amateur choir”

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Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival poem and song: dan yuan ren chang jiu

There are many kinds of sheet music for the popular Chinese song Dan Yuan Ren Chang Jiu sung at Mid-Autumn Festival.

When I asked my mom to select songs made popular by the late Teresa Teng besides my favorite Ni Ze Me Shuo, she mentioned Dan Yuan Ren Chang Jiu. On the night of the super blood moon and lunar eclipse, I learned of its significance. The lyrics come from a famous poem by Su Shi, also known as Su Dong Po. The song is associated with the Mid Autumn Festival, which is celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month. For 2015, it’s Sunday September 27th.

Continue reading “Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival poem and song: dan yuan ren chang jiu”

The flower of sanshin: san shin no hana 三線の花

A love song played over loud speakers at the 2015 annual Maui Okinawan Festival brought back memories of growing up on Okinawa.

At the annual Maui Okinawan Festival, I heard three youngsters announce the songs they would be dancing to. When one of them added “and this one is my favorite,” I took out my iPhone to record it and began my journey of discovering this famous song about the Okinawan instrument. Continue reading “The flower of sanshin: san shin no hana 三線の花”

Holiday greetings: the gift of music

Another kind of holiday greeting is the gift of music. Denver-based singer and composer Melissa Axel and tuba player James Jacoby share their original tune “Sleigh Ride in Bora Bora” with the world. Download any of the 3 versions for free and pass it around. Support their fund raising campaign for their forthcoming debut album.

Here is an original Christmas tune written and performed by the multi-talented singer/songwriter Melissa Axel and her partner, James Jacoby, tuba player and augmented by their back-up band of vocals, violin, percussion, and more. There’s also an instrumental version and a karaoke version with lyrics.

Bora Bora is a tropical island in the South Pacific. I had googled it when I first moved to the small Dutch village of Bussum in January 2004. It was a symbol of escape from the short and dark winter days that lay ahead. The idea of flying to Tahiti  — somewhere on the other side of the world — occupied my mind and fueled my daydreams.

For Denver-based composer Melissa Axel and her team, perhaps the idea of Bora Bora, such a contrast from the snow-capped Rocky Mountains and below-freezing weather conditions, also keeps them dreaming of the warmer days to come. Certainly, Robert and I are living their dream in Hawaii.

How does a sleigh operate without snow? Well, here’s the clue:

we’ll still find a way to have our Christmas
stringing leis on palm trees by the sea
tie this rope around the sleigh, help me hitch it to the boat
we don’t need no reindeer, and we sure don’t need no snow
we’ll turn this Bali Hai into a Bali Ho-Ho-Ho
it’s a sleigh ride in Bora Bora

Listening to this song put a smile to my face. Here we are — not quite in Bora Bora — but in the tropics nevertheless. Maui is the second largest of the Hawaiian islands. It’s not a white Christmas but a blue one with perfect surfing conditions.

Axel and Jacoby’s gift of music is a free for all. Download it. Pass it on to your friends. Share it on facebook.

If you like their music, check out their fundraising campaign for their debut album.