#Writing #MusicMonday: canzoni per i natali del futuro by Various Artists [Cervello Meccanico]

natali-futuroAi ya, this year.

So, I do have albums selected for every week between the last Writing Music Monday post and today, I just have to write them up and post them. And I want those out of the bloody way, so the rest of this week may see two to three posts per day. Or I may be lazy (I know, what a shock, right?) and they might not. I’ll try.

But for now, it is the first Monday in December, and time for Christmas music.

And, being me, I’m opting to start off weird. (Not to fear, the next two weeks will see plenty of more traditional music for you to enjoy.)

Today’s album is brief at thirty-four minutes, but I enjoy it. It is an album with a mission statement:

All of the most popular Christmas songs were composed during the 19th century, and are still used until today, despite being extremely outdated and obsolete. With this album Cervello Meccanico proposes a collection of songs intended to be more suitable for the present century.

What this is is a collection of experimental electronic works by various artists. Imagine if, e.g., Delia Derbyshire had set out to do new holiday music in her prime. A number of the tracks remind me of her work, and I mean that in a very positive way.

There’s also at least one (very good) chiptune.

Your mileage may vary on how festive or holiday-oriented most of the pieces make you feel, but there can’t be any new classics if you never listen to new songs, right? At the very least, the first track or two should be something you won’t mind having playing in the background at a holiday party or gathering.

Download canzoni per i natali del futuro by Various Artists [Cervello Meccanico] free from Cervello Meccanico’s site, the Free Music Archive, or the Internet Archive.

canzoni per i natali del futuro by Various Artists [Cervello Meccanico] is licensed under a Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.5 Italy License.

#Writing #Music Monday: Oh Holy Night (Volume 1) by Ronny Matthes

Oh Holy Night (Volume 1) CoverI have trimmed both the title and the artist name considerably to keep them intelligible, because the extra was mostly German for “Christmas Music”.

This album is nearly an hour’s worth of quality Christmas tunes, both original and traditional, and while at times it verges upon Mannheim Steamroller cheesiness, it only does that a few times. On the whole, it is entirely pleasing and in the mood of the season.

I don’t know much about Ronny Matthes other than that he’s German, and that he’s put a lot of music out for free, under various names, but, alas, as with this album, he locks it up under restrictive licenses. Still, you can download it and enjoy it entirely for free (or order it through German Amazon, linked on the album page, if you would like to send money his way), and that’s no bad thing.

Download Oh Holy Night (Volume 1) from Jamendo.

Creative Commons License
Oh Holy Night (Volume 1) by Ronny Matthes is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 International License.

#Writing #Music Monday: Christmas Music and CHRISTMAS TWO by PAIO

[cover] PAIO - Christmas MusicPAIO is a Polish composer, and he has released two short albums of Christmas tunes to the Creative Commons. I’m giving you both of them, because together they come in at less than half an hour.

It’s synth work, and apparently created quite some time ago, but apart from being occasionally a bit cloying for my tastes, it works very well for background music that sounds right for the season (at least, if your tastes run less to jazz than mine do, and more to Mannheim Steamroller). Some of PAIO’s other work sounds a bit video-gamey to me, but not this. It works for the festive, snowy mood, even if you’re like me, in a climate where there is no snow, just rain, and “festive” is less the norm than the exception.

You can download Christmas Music and CHRISTMAS TWO from Jamendo.

Creative Commons License
Christmas Music and CHRISTMAS TWO by PAIO are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 International License.

#Writing #Music Monday: #Christmas With The Believers

Cover created from an image by mstewart_12, CC0.
Cover created from an image by mstewart_12, CC0.
Right up front let me make clear that I’m bending the rules here. Writing Music Monday is expressly dedicated to music from the Creative Commons that you can write to. Sometimes I find good music under a Free Art License (FAL), but since that’s compatible with one of the CC licenses, that’s not really contrary to the spirit of the series.

And once in a great while, I’ll send you to something that is free to download, but not CC-licensed (or copyleft in any way at all). To my recollection, this is the third time.

Believe me, I am not sorry to do it this time.

On Reddit recently, I came across a reference to “the best Christmas jazz album you’ve never heard of”. And the redditor was right — despite my dedication to obscurities, this album was both completely new to me, and completely excellent.

Christmas With The Believers was recorded by short-lived San Francisco-based jazz trio The Believers in the fall of 1986. They parted ways in March of 1987, and this tape (by way of CD and ripping to 320kbps MP3) might be the only recording of their work. You can read the story of how this recording started going viral on Salon:

One day, a little over 20 years ago, my wife and I were riding in a car with another couple, Mitch and Koekje Dutton. This was well into the Christmas season. Koekje, in her single days, was Koekje Schwekendiek, and on this particular day she had received a tape from her brother Donny Schwekendiek, who was living in San Francisco and eking out a living playing jazz piano.

The tape she had received was a recording of Donny and two other guys playing Christmas music. She asked if we’d like to hear the tape.

Mr. Schwekendiek has been living in Japan since 1987, and had this to say:

the trio was rounded out with neal heidler on the bass and barry puhlovski on the drums. […] i’m pretty sure we formed the group in ’86 — i know the recording was in the fall of that year. at the time i thought it was a really original idea but i’ve since found christmas jazz coming out of the woodwork — and that’s a GOOD thing.

It’s thirty-one minutes of absolute Christmas jazz perfection. If you download and listen to nothing else I’ve ever posted, get this one. It’s that good.

As a sample, here’s “O Christmas Tree” for you:

Download Christmas With The Believers from MediaFire.

Christmas With The Believers by The Believers is free to download, but is not available under a Creative Commons license at the time of this writing.

(Given that only one of the tunes is in the public domain, it is unlikely that it can be licensed to the Commons, but I’m reaching out to Mr. Schwekendiek to determine if a CC BY-NC-ND license might be possible even with the copyrighted tunes. Because this recording should go on.)

UPDATE: While the MediaFire link still works at the time of this writing, I’ve gone ahead and uploaded the album, with the addition of my cover art, to the Internet Archive.

Writing Music Monday: Christmas Bells by James Edwards

[cover] James Edwards - Christmas BellsThis isn’t necessarily writing music, but I love to have this album playing regularly in the week or so before Christmas, and thought I should share.

Christmas Bells is an album of nothing but solo classical guitar interpretations of Christmas classics. It is quiet. It is lovely. It is perfect.

James Edwards is a professional classical guitarist who has released many CDs, and seems to dabble just a little in Creative Commons releases, having three in total — this one through Jamendo, and two on Magnatune. Considering that he’s no spring chicken, I think he ought to be rewarded for trying something so counter to the old prevailing wisdom about giving music away.

Note: Probably no music post next week. If not, Merry Christmas to all.

Creative Commons License
Christmas Bells by James Edwards is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.