Praise to the Lord, the Almighty

I just love bold hymns and this is one I’ve wanted to do a choral arrangement for a long time now. I felt like I chose to write this song at a good time because it was one of those songs I just sat down and wrote it all out within a little over a week. I never had any “stumped” moments, which was so nice!

I wrote a piano solo for this song (below) as well. I recorded myself playing that. It is almost the same as the choir version so you can get a feel for the song.

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty–for choir pianist and conductor

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty–for choir members

As I said above, I took my choir version and made a piano solo out of it. Because I wanted it to sound a lot like the choir piece, it isn’t my best piano arrangement. I promise you will love the transitions though, I get addicted to playing them!

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty–piano solo

 

 

Composing Tips: Syncopation

Syncopation: I have found when right and left hands are moving back and forth, it helps to give more variety to a piece. If my arrangements are ever sounding the same I’ll try to add some different syncopation.

For example, if you are in 3/4 time and there are 3 quarter notes in the melody, add 2 dotted quarter notes to the left hand. Now, that is a very simple example but hopefully you get what I mean.

So, if your songs are in need of some variation, play around with syncopation. You might find a fun sound!

Ideas for Compositions

I want to start a tips section for anyone trying to compose their own songs. I remember when I was taking lessons I ate up the tips my teacher had. So, as I think of things I will make posts about them.
Before I go into tips I want to let you know that I am not a music major. I got my degree in dental hygiene. Um, farthest thing from music as possible! However, I did take private piano lessons from when I was 7 to when I was 17. Those are my qualifications. I compose what sounds good to me. That’s it. I don’t think about what is supposed to come next because that is how songs are supposed to be written. I play, and my fingers just fiddle around until I find just the right sound I was going for.
Tip:
TRIPLETS: When it comes to arranging music I’ve found that to really make the last verse (or the climax) of your arrangement more powerful , add triplets to the left hand accompanying the right hand’s melody.
Going from eighth notes, or other rhythms, to triplets just gives the piece energy and movement. In the final verse of my “Nearer, My God to Thee” arrangement, I even added triplets into the melody while the left hand held half notes. This proved to be the most powerful part of my song. I get chills every time I play it.
Triplets, when used at the right place and the right time, can turn an ok piece into a “wow” piece.

Photo: Pencil by Dave Rutt

Rising Temperature

This is the first song that got me started on my song writing journey. At a piano recital one year I heard a song performed that I wanted to play. My teacher told me the boy wrote it. I think that is what gave me motivation to do my own song writing.

The funny thing about this song is that I don’t remember the name I gave it originally. When deciding what to call it I saw a thermometer I just used on my sick little boy and thought of the name. Here it is:

Rising Temperature

Messages

Believe it or not, I was in a band. Yep, me an my friends jamming away to our heart’s content. This song was written on an acoustic guitar by my friend Weston Gardner. You can check out his current band, Cavalist, here.

I took his version, wrote piano to it, and this is it! When we performed this song at an open mic night one person told me they would buy our album just for this song. I thought that was such a nice complement!

Caution: this song is tricky/fast toward the end…don’t give up you can do it!

Messages

Come, Come Ye Saints

At the end of June our choir director calls and asks if I could write an arrangement to Come, Come Ye Saints to be performed the third Sunday in July in honor of Pioneer Day. From the day of the call, that left me with 8 days until I had to have it done (because I was leaving on vacation for a week and couldn’t keep working on it when I left). I worked hard for those 8 days and this is what came from it.

Come, Come Ye Saints

The parts are from the LDS Hymnal until the last two measures. The first verse is a solo. Here is the music for just the parts:

Come, Come Ye Saints: Parts

Lord, I Would Follow Thee

This is a fun story. I wrote about 2/3rds of this arrangement my junior year of high school. I finished it up a few years ago. When I started my website I got in contact with Susan Evans McCloud, the lyricist. We went back and forth e-mailing, trying to get permission from the music writer, K. Newell Dayley, who was on a mission. Sister McCloud was finally able to get a hold of him after months of waiting. Sister McCloud was so helpful and, in a grueling world of trying to contact composers for permissions, I was so appreciative!

I was especially touched by this song when I listened to how it was written. If you have a few minutes, give this a listen to. It is narrated by Sister McCloud herself!

Lord, I Would Follow Thee

Lord, I Would Follow Thee (lower)

Because I had a request, here’s a recording of just the piano:

We Give Our Thanks

The last LDS Music Competition entry I have under my belt is this children’s song entered in 2010. I picked the subject of Thanksgiving because in the Children’s Songbook, none of the Thanksgiving songs mention the 10 lepers story! I had to write one including them.

Since I have written this song I have had some helpful advice from a friend about songwriting. One thing she told me that is very taboo is parallel fifths. I have those in this song–yikes! Listening to this song, it is beautiful and not cheesy (I really dislike cheesy songs) but when you dissect it, there are technical flaws. I wish I knew more when I was entering it. Live and learn I guess.

We Give Our Thanks