It's that time of year and everywhere you go you will hear the strains of Christmas music pouring through pa systems. From the radio in your car, the tv commercials and all those busy trips to the mall it seems as if you keep hearing the same ones over and over again. If you are lucky you may hear your favorite one and if you''re unlucky the one you dislike is playing while you are in the longest line you have ever been in. Now don't get me wrong, I love holiday music, even though after teaching Jingle Bells to students young and old from November through December 25th for over 35 years, I still look forward to hearing some old favorites and sometimes some newer versions of those classics.
Today I would like to try and get you to try some new twists on some of the old classics. We can start simple ex: Jingle Bells. This piece can go around the world depending on your rhythm, as in any of the latin rhythms, german polka bands, tabernacle rhythm, calypso, caribbean. latin guitar and even hawaiian styles. While you are in those latin rhythms you can even add Harry Belafonte's Mary's Boy Child to the mix. If you haven't figured out what songs to play with the Ring of Cash, Jingle Bells is the perfect fit and keeps the song upbeat! I personally use Carol of the Bells with the Mexican 3/4 rhythm speeded up! The Traditional Rhythm button gives you everything from Russia to Greece for rhythm styles. As for voicings of other countries go into the Category Presets More button and press the Around the World category presets (Lowrey). For you Tyros and Clavinova people just go the World Rhythm styles section and use the one touch settings for voices.
If you go into the Country rhythm section on a Lowrey, there are a multitude of styles to use with Christmas songs. Try Garth's Friends for I saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus. Jingle Jangle in the Broadway section works for most of the Gene Autry's songs. Roadside Cafe with alter style works great with I'll Have a Blue Christmas and you can also try Denver Picken' (orch plus off and a minor intro 2) for a country style We Three Kings and add the Alt rhythm for the chorous.
Hey you Tyros and Clavinova people, for a fun Jingle bells use Country style, "Hoedown:" with Intro II, Main Variation C, and One Touch Setting 2. Those Gene Autry song's can be used with Country Style "Country Sing-along" Intro II, Main variations C and D (for the chorous) and any of the One Touch Settings along with Ending III. Use the Multi Pad Controls sections, press Select and scroll to "Xmas Loops" and press Multi Pad III to get sleigh bells!
Here is one for the song God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman you will either love or hate, it's that different. Select the rhythm style Slum Doggie. You can either use intro 1 or 2 or just start the rhythm with a fade in. Use Category Preset Holiday's (under the More Category Preset) and press 7 Choir Duo's and play 8va. If you want to go more traditional with the song go to rhythm style Troubadours and use rhythm preset 0 or 2. To make the song fit the rhythm better you need to swing your rhythm when playing the song. For the Tyros/Clavinova you can find a variety of interesting rhythms in the World Style under Turkish Euro 1 and Turkish Euro 2.
Now to get really crazy with a Christmas song check out this youtube video based on a traditional song by Tchaikovsky called the Nutrocker Suite. It's called Nutrocker and was written by Kim Foley in 1962, The only ez play feature I am using is the rhythm style The Train at a mm of 194. The voices are mainly a Clavinette and a Synth with an altered slap bass in the LH and some bass and theater drums in my pedals.
Currently there is a very popular Christmas song going around called "Where Are You Christmas?" and what are you going to use for that complicated piano background, if you don't play piano? Those with pianist/guitarist, on their Lowrey automatically go there, but I found something a little bit more elaborate and suited for the piece. Find the style Love Ballad. Then on the main screen touch where it reads "Love Ballad" to edit it and then change all of the orch voices to grand piano 9'. I make sure I start on the Rhythm Preset 0 before I do this to get the correct accomp in the background. You can always change the voices on the upper and lower manual to what you want and then save it. Tyros and Clavinova players have a wide variety of styles they can use from the ballad sections to the Ballad Style section and the Movie & Show section.
These are just a few things to try, some you may know and some you may not, to add some spice to your Holiday songs. I will do another blog this Friday, December 21st, on how to add some zest to the more traditional holiday pieces you play.
So start playing and Enjoy!