And the winner is…

And the winner is St Mary’s Church Choir, Nottingham. Congratulations to them. Free copies of Jesus’ Lullaby will be sent to them, and it’ll be programmed into their Nine Lessons and Carols service on Christmas Eve.

Director of Music John Keys was in Florence when we launched the Great Christmas Giveaway, and wouldn’t have seen the announcement but for singer Nick Drew, a former member of the St Mary’s choir, who drew his attention to it.

Very well done to them, and thanks to everyone for their interest in the Great Christmas Giveaway 2014!

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Looking for Jesus? Let Jesus come to you.

As celebrity endorsements go this is a pretty good one. If you’re interested in the Great Christmas Giveaway copies of Reuben Thomas’s piece Jesus’ Lullaby, but haven’t got a baritone soloist who can sing the part of Christ, then don’t worry. In true Messianic style, Reuben is offering himself, not as a libation for your sins, but as a baritone soloist to sing the part of Jesus with you. (See the competition’s terms here.)

Reuben isn’t our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ – I don’t want to create that impression – but he is a professional singer, and as well as having written the piece, he also sang the part of Jesus at its first performance last year. So if you’re stuck for your own Jesus, Reuben would be ideal.

One of the consequences of Reuben’s not being the real Jesus is that his offer is subject to geographical constraints, as he can’t cross large distances in an instant (John 6:21). Depending on where you need him to manifest himself, he may ask for travelling expenses. But apart from that, he is not asking for a fee.

And unlike many of Jesus’s more high-profile followers like Padre Pio, Reuben isn’t very good at the old bilocation, so again, this offer comes subject to his actually being available when your event is programmed. But subject to those things, if he’s free, he’s free.

If you want to take Reuben up on his offer, mention it when you apply for the scores. Email to the usual info@chichestermusicpress.co.uk address.

We are most grateful to Reuben for adding this dimension to the Great Christmas Giveaway. To be clear, this is his offer from his own generosity, rather than from ours.

 

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The Great Chichester Music Press Christmas Giveaway 2014

Following the success of our Christmas Giveaway last year, we have decided to repeat the experience for Christmas 2014.

Jesus' Lullaby cover

Jesus’ Lullaby cover

Last year, we gave away a set of copies of David Truslove’s There Is No Rose for SSA, and it was taken on and performed by St Wilfrid’s Church choir in Bognor Regis. Last year, though, we gave the scores out with three weeks to spare before Christmas. This year, we’re doing it three whole months in advance.

Because the lucky choir that wins the scores will have so much more time to prepare the music than St Wilf’s did last year, the piece on offer is correspondingly more challenging. It’s Jesus’ Lullaby, by Reuben Thomas.

Jesus’ Lullaby is one of my favourite pieces out of all the music we do here. It’s for SATB and organ or piano, with several solo passages for soprano and baritone, who play Mary and Jesus. Mary sings the familiar mediaeval words Lullay, mine Liking, a lullaby to her new child who is also her God. Jesus answers her, though it’s not the child Jesus who speaks, but rather the adult, Jesus the missionary, and in words written by Reuben he foretells his own passion and the misery it will bring to Mary. While he doesn’t spare her the heartache, he does offer her comfort before it arrives. So, from two strikingly different perspectives, mother and child sing each other to sleep.

The music is a beautiful intertwining of Mary’s innocent and joyful with Christ’s lyrical lines. The SATB parts are atmospheric but not difficult to learn. The duration is about 4’30”, and if you don’t have anyone who can sing the baritone solos, composer and singer Reuben Thomas himself is offering his services free (see here for details).

The piece was given its first performance in December 2013 in Paris by Ensemble Vocale of the Académie Vocale de Paris under Iain Simcock, with Reuben himself as the baritone soloist and Morgane Collomb as Mary. You can hear a recording of that performance, and the score is on the link given above (and you can see a sample score if for some reason you can’t get Scorch version on the website to work).

Now look, there are some rules, and here they are:

  1. You must perform the piece in public, either in a service or a concert, in the Christmas season of 2014. It is a challenging piece, so please only throw your hat into the ring if you’re confident you can get it together and do it well in the time available. Look at the score and listen to the recording. It’s important that you don’t bite off more than you can chew, but on the other hand if you feel your choir can justice to the beautiful Jesus’ Lullaby, it’s important that you enter!
  2. You can have no more than 30 free copies. Additional copies are £3.50 each. That’s over £100 of music gifted to you. (Naturally you can’t take the free ones and photocopy any shortfall because that’s illegal and unfair, and you’re not that kind of person anyway.)
  3. If you’re based in the UK, you won’t have to pay postage either. If you’re based outside the UK, we’ll ask you to cover the postage charge, whatever that turns out to be.
  4. After the performance, please consider writing about how you found learning and performing the piece for this blog. Include a couple of photos if you can. It’ll be really interesting to hear of your experiences.
  5. Only one choir can benefit from this offer. So email info@chichestermusicpress.co.uk to stake your claim. Please include a little information about your choir, the kind of music you normally sing, the nature (concert / service) of the performance where you envisage using Jesus’ Lullaby etc. There’s no deadline as such, but the sooner we allocate the scores, the sooner the lucky choir can get rehearsing.

 

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Report from the Great Christmas Giveway

A few weeks before Christmas, in fact a very few weeks before Christmas, we gave away free copies of David Truslove’s There Is No Rose for SSA to the first choir that asked for them. That choir had to undertake to perform the piece during the Christmas period, which would mean learning it from scratch in a very short space of time.

St Wilfrid’s Church choir in Bognor Regis stepped up for the challenge, performing the piece twice including at their Midnight Mass. Their director Janine Willard takes up the story:

After securing free copies of Truslove’s There is no rose, generously given to us at St Wilfrid’s, Bognor, we were really keen to make a really good go of the piece. Initially some of the singers had thought it would be impossible to sing; we were only 2 or 3 per part, and the piece contains more than one tricky moment. We spent a lot of time having separate rehearsals from the tenors and basses, so we could really work on learning it in properly. Some of the singers found that the piece was not to their taste, but as we learned it, and the harmonies became familiar, their opinion started to change. By the time we performed the piece for our Nine Lessons and Carols service, as well as Midnight Mass, all the singers really enjoyed it. We did draft in an extra voice each in the end, just to give the singers a little more confidence, and at both services, it came off beautifully, but particularly at Midnight Mass, where there were many comments afterwards regarding the beauty of the piece, as well as the delivery by the singers. We will be looking out for more Truslove!

Did someone say “Looking out for more Truslove”? Look no further!

Our thanks to Janine for writing about the choir’s experience, and also to the singers themselves for taking the bull by the horns and learning the piece in the time available. It’s a beautiful piece which obviously went down well with the Bognor Regis congregations, thanks to their efforts.

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Music for education – a call for pieces

This year it is our intention at the Chichester Music Press to extend our catalogue into educational music. We already have a strong corpus of liturgical choral music, and while we will continue to bring new music to that genre, we will also be publishing music for the use of schools or of individual pupils.

This post is therefore a general call for pieces, and it’s aimed really at music educators who are also composers. If you know anyone who might be interested, please do direct them here.

We are already preparing James Humberstone‘s The Riemann Hypothesis for publication; it’s a huge-scale piece for 500 string players, all of them students, running the gamut from beginner to advanced. But we are also interested in music on a much smaller scale.

Do you write music for your students and pupils? Have you ever thought of trying to bring it to a wider audience? Maybe you have a talented chamber group at your school, a string quartet perhaps, that you’ve written music for. Or have you written songs, or larger pieces like musicals, for your school choir? The idea is, if it’s useful for your people in your setting, chances are it’ll be useful to similar groups elsewhere, and our aim is to facilitate that sharing process.

If we publish your music in this way, you will join our growing number of published composers, and you’ll earn royalties on music sold.

If you want to test the water, please email a sample of your music. We’re not promising to publish everything submitted, of course, but we’ll certainly have a very good look at everything. Scores can be sent as Sibelius files or PDF files, or get in touch if you want to ask about other file formats. Or you can send music on paper by post. Get in touch also if you have any queries at all.

Good luck!

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The Chichester Music Press Great Christmas Giveaway

And I do mean great!

We’ve been churning out Christmas piece after Christmas piece for a long time now, most recently Reuben Thomas’s Jesus’ Lullaby, and even though Christmas is getting very close these pieces are still finding performers (Jesus’ Lullaby is being performed in Paris on 19th December).

Our latest publication, however, is cutting it rather fine even by our standards, and it would be a confident choir that took it on at this late stage. It’s David Truslove’s There Is No Rose for unaccompanied SSA (not to be confused with his other recent setting of the same words for SATB and semichorus).

We are offering a free set of copies to the first choir to undertake to perform this new SSA setting of There Is No Rose this Christmas.

So if you know a choir that’s up to the challenge of learning a new piece in the remaining few weeks before the big day, please point them here. It’s only 3 minutes’ worth of music, filling 3 pages of score, and it’s not terribly hard so it should be doable, if you get on with it!

There are a couple of rules:

  1. You must perform the piece in public, either in a service or a concert, in the Christmas season of 2013.
  2. You can have no more than 30 copies free. Additional copies are £1.20 each. (Naturally you can’t take the free ones and photocopy any shortfall because that’s illegal and unfair, and you’re not that kind of person anyway.)
  3. If you’re based in the UK, you won’t have to pay postage either. If you’re based outside the UK, we’ll ask you to cover the postage charge, whatever that turns out to be.
  4. Please consider writing about the performance, and the process of learning the piece prior to the performance, for this blog. Include a couple of photos if you can. It’ll be really interesting to hear of your experiences.
  5. Only one choir can benefit from this offer. So email info@chichestermusicpress.co.uk now to stake your claim.
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NotateMe – preparing scores with your finger on a mobile phone

About six weeks ago, I asked Neuratron for some technical support about their Photoscore product. Their CEO Martin Dawe, as well as sorting out my Photoscore problem, invited me to test out NotateMe, an app for Android (and now iOS) which lets you write music out with your finger on your phone’s screen, and while you’re writing it, translates your squiggles into real music. It uses, no doubt, some of the wizardry behind Photoscore, which can read music from graphics files and convert it into a format that music processing software like Sibelius can use.

Now it wasn’t very long ago that there was talk of a similar app for iOS which would let you do exactly what NotateMe now does. There was a very glossy video ‘demonstrating’ the app. Some eagle-eyed viewers noticed one or two things slightly amiss, however, and one was moved to ask if they’d had permission to use Sibelius’s fonts in their app. And then the truth began to come out, over a two-week period, that the app didn’t actually exist yet, and the video demonstrating it had been mocked up in Sibelius and other bits of software. Then followed a crowdsourcing attempt which didn’t reach its target, and people began to feel that it was a pipe dream, and that the whole idea was ridiculously far-fetched and not really achievable. The app itself meanwhile is promised for this autumn, which is now.

NotateMe

Neuratron’s NotateMe

So when, right on schedule, an app doing the same job appeared from different quarters, and familiar quarters at that, it amused me a little. But unlike the other lot, Neuratron has form, and I was more than willing to trust their handiwork and pay a discount £9.99 to beta test it.

I’m really glad I did. My head swims a little, I must admit, when I think of how wincingly complex a job translating hand-written data into music is, but NotateMe is surprisingly good at it.

To start off with, NotateMe analyses your handwriting, gradually building up a picture of your own personal way of doing it. But even while it’s still doing that, you can just start writing. You add the instruments you want to your score, change the clef and time signature if necessary from the ones supplied, and then write in your key signature with your finger, and start putting the notes in. As you write, NotateMe works out what you’re writing, and transcribes it onto another stave above the one you’re writing in.

There Is No Rose

There Is No Rose, with my index-finger-on-small-screen effort below, and NotateMe’s transcription above. (NotateMe picks up triplets even when you don’t explicitly label them, as in the first 3/4 bar here.)

It doesn’t get everything right of course, and even if it did you’d still need the facility to edit what you’ve done in case the mistake is yours. You can add more marks to make things clearer if necessary, or you can delete things, move things, copy & paste things about the score or whatever you need to do. When you’ve finished, you can export your score as MusicXML and import it from there into Sibelius or whatever you’re using.

A lot of thought has gone into using the space available on a small screen, and there’s a certain amount of compromising to be done. You can opt either to have a small input area and see more musical context around it, or have a bigger input area and not see so much context. In my experience on a 4.3 inch HTC One S, using a big input area in portrait mode is the best solution. Your mileage may vary. Also, I’ve been using my finger, but if you have a stylus, or a device with a bigger screen, you should find things even easier than I did.

In my tests, NotateMe performed well from the beginning. I found some problems, to be sure, for example NotateMe not recognising some things that to a human eye were perfectly clear, but the bug reports I sent (there’s a facility in the app that makes reporting them easy) were acted upon very quickly by Neuratron, and sometimes a new build was released, fixing the bug, on the same day. But the bits that went wrong were easily outnumbered by the bits that went right, and with each new build it got better and better.

Once I felt that I’d learnt enough about the software, and that it had learnt enough about me, and knowing that real-world testing is more useful to software developers than directionless fiddling, I decided to try to prepare a piece for publication using NotateMe for the note input phase. If it passed muster even in its beta testing period, that would be an excellent sign for the future.

Ties

NotateMe knows where your ties should end, even if you’re not careful about it.

Well, it did, and the result is David Truslove’s There Is No Rose, a 9-page piece for choir and semichorus (or solo quartet), with all eight parts written out by my index finger on a 4″ screen. After the notes had gone in I exported the score as MusicXML and imported into Sibelius to carry on (adding the text, producing the piano reduction and generally laying out the score).

This must surely make There Is No Rose pretty much the first published piece in the world to have been prepared for publication in this way, but I’m convinced there’ll be many others as the technology, already extremely promising, matures and develops. Neuratron already has plans for new features in NotateMe, including the ability to input notes by singing them into the phone!

I’m not suggesting of course that putting the notes in in NotateMe is faster than doing the same thing in Sibelius – far from it. But if you’d find it handy to be able to do your note input on the move – on a train, say, or on a beach – I can say that NotateMe is working extremely well here! Hats of to Martin Dawe and everyone at Neuratron. I am in awe, and am delighted that we’re in at the beginning of this new era in music processing technology.

Start here to try it out: http://neuratron.com/notateme.html

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