Hi, and welcome back to part two of “Twisted Christmas songs for Organ and Keyboard”. Yes, I know it’s late in the season to do these, but the songs I will be using today are songs that you know and have played for many years; traditional Christmas Carols. There is a lot of ideas here today and I hope at least one sparks your creativity!
Hark the Herald Angels Sing
We’re going away from the traditional organ and turning it contemporary in a pretty way. For those of you with Pianist, on your Lowrey, choose rhythm style Pianist and then Heart Songs. Press rhythm preset 8, turn the Orch plus off and turn off lower flute 8’. Transpose -2, start with Intro 2 and end with Intro 2.
Tyros/Clavinova players can try this. Go into the Style section Ballad and select Love Song with Main Variation A and Intro II. Make sure the Acmp is on and the Auto Fill is on. Transpose -2, press One Touch Setting 1 and play the melody 8va. For the second verse press In Part on/off and Press Right 2 to turn it on. For verse 3 select main variation D and press One touch setting 4 and using Ending III.
Oh, Come All Ye Faithful
This is an upbeat version that you can use alone or in a medley. In the Rock/Contemp. Rhythm Style select “Queen of Dancing”. Press Rhythm Preset 0 and then press Alter style. Transpose -1 and a nice tempo is 106. The intro to this is a little different. Start with just the RH melody on the upper manual with the ending of the song, played slowly (vocals will be on), for an intro (Oh, come let us adore hi—im, Christ, the lord.) and then start the beginning of the song with your chords and pedals and the RH melody played on the right side (solo section) of the lower manual (synth voices). The second verse will work nice if you use a rhythm break to press Rhythm Preset 6 and play on the upper manual. For other verses you have the option to transpose up or change voices.
Let’s get a little wild with the Tyros and Clavinova players. You are going for the Trans Siberian Orchestra sound for this one. In the style Entertainer press the Schlager Rock with Main Variation B and Intro III. Press One Touch Setting 4 for the melody. Press the Acmp and the Auto Fill to turn them on. On the Second verse chainge to Main Variation C and One Touch Setting 3 and end the song with Ending III.
Joy to the World
This can work as an opening song in a concert or an ending song in a medley. It’s the Manheim Steamroller sound for the Lowrey. In the Rock/Contem. Rhythm styles press E-lecti-City. Use Category Presets More and then scroll to find Holiday’s. Then press Category Preset #5, Mannheim/Synths. The key to making this sound correct is the Transposer. If you play it in the key of C Major, transpose up 2 to D. If you play in any other key, just transpose until you get to D. Adjust your tempo to something you are comfortable and “let it rip”!
Medley time for Tyros and Clavinova players. For this piece I would make a medley with the Oh, Come All Ye Faithful setup. Make sure that you are in D Major when playing this piece for the best effect.
Mary’s Boy Child/Away in the Manger
Mary’s Boy Child is a Harry Belafonte song and can be a bit tricky to find the music. But it is a pretty and simple song to play and also works well as a short medley with Away in the Manger. For this piece use Latin Rhythm and then select Miami Congo rhythm style. Choose Category Preset Latin and then press Category Preset 4. Back to the rhythm style… Turn on Alter Style, turn Genie off, turn Orch Plus off, and turn the “Lower Tabs” tab off. Transpose -1. Start with Intro/Ending 2 and start the song with the all chords and pedals and start the RH on the lower manual on the right side (solo section). For the Second verse preset category preset 5 and turn the Genie button to “On”. For other verses you can use any of the Latin Category presets as they work very well for these two songs. When you play Away in the Manger, you have to swing/alter the timing a bit to fit the 4/4 rhythm style, Remember to use your ear to help with the feel of the timing and the song.
Ok, Tyros and Clavinova players, let’s see what we can do. In the Latin Style choose Bachata with Main Variation A, Intro II and One Touch Setting 2. Make sure the Acmp and the Auto Fill are on. ln the Multi Pad Control section press Select and then select PopOoh p. Press the button marked 1 in the Multi Pad Control section when the Intro is about half way through. For verse 2 press Main Variation C and One Touch Setting 1. Use the Ending II to finish the piece.
I am going to add one more song that is not traditional but a great Christmas song all the same. It is very repetitive and can get boring so I decided to add it to today’s lesson. It’s also a bit tricky, but well worth the effort.
Do You Hear What I Hear? (Lowrey Only)
In the Broadway Rhythm Style choose Epic Movie and then Rhythm Preset 5. Press Alter style, to turn it on, and Orch Plus to turn it off (You can put the Orch Plus on the final verse for a big full effect.). Transpose +1 (if in the key of C Major) to keep it from sounding to low and muddy. Press Fade in and then press your starting chord. Use the Fade in for the intro and let the rhythm play for four measures. Start the RH on the lower manual on the right side (Solo section) and keep it there for the first verse. Verse 2: Use the Rhythm Break, press Transpose up 1, and also press Preset 4 (if you need to, hold the rhythm break to get this all done). Keep the RH on the lower manual, on the right side (solo section) and halfway through the verse play the RH on the upper manual, but not 8va. Verse 3; Use the Rhythm break to press Rhythm Preset 9 and turn the Orch Plus on and play the final verse on the upper manual 8va. To end the song use Intro Ending 2. To remember all of this while playing, just write the instructions on the music.
One Last Twisted Christmas Song for you Lowrey Owners and a tribute to Bil Curry! (I still remember him creating this style at Lowrey and all the old records he used to listen to that helped develop this style).
Use rhythm Style “Like Spike” press Rhythm Preset 5 and transpose to the Key of G Major. Press Intro 1 and start playing Jingle Bells and have some fun with it. Ending 1 works for the ending.
Hope you enjoyed these twisted variations and that they inspired you to look outside of the box when trying new things on your organ and keyboards.
My next blog will be on Wednesday, December 26th with a nice arrangement for New Year’s Eve, so start practicing Auld Lang Syne and Merry Christmas!