varied ensembles in
two or three parts
Harmony without Holes
Most carol arrangements are based upon vocal SATB parts. With small, ad hoc ensembles, when it may be difficult to gather together an ensemble which can adequately cover this four-part harmony, it's possible that the harmonic texture will be incomplete.
Slim Carols are arranged in 3 parts so that the harmony is always complete. The arrangements are for variable, generic instrumentation. Super Slim Carols are arranged in two parts only but in such a way that almost any instrument can play the melody, and almost any instrument can play the other part, but the harmony is always complete.
Some of the carols are available in two keys with corresponding instrumental parts.
For each carol, you will see something like this:
Here you have:
- The first line of the carol;
- The name of the tune found in many hymns books;
- The metre of the tune. That is, how many syllables per line. This is useful if you want to substitute a tune for any given text.
The Slim Carols are arranged in three parts: melody, middle, and bass. For each carol the following downloads are available:
A thinned out part, totally compatible with the instrumental parts, but without the complications of playing standard four part harmony.
This presents all the parts so that a rehearsal leader can know what should be played. The scores don't show all the transposing instrument versions of each part.
this is for non-transposing instruments such as violin, flute, oboe etc. For some instruments, the melody may lie a little low, or even beyond their range (such as flutes and treble recorders). Players of these instruments will find a part at a suitable pitch under the Melody for solo or unison verses section.
Transposing Bb instruments:
this part is intended for trumpets, cornets, clarinets, soprano saxophones or any Bb transposing instrument which plays in the soprano register, just one tone lower than the written pitch.
For all the arrangements, the middle part goes no lower than the G below middle C, so it lies within the range of the violin.
Transposing Bb instruments:
As the middle parts go no lower than the G below middle C, they lie within range of Clarinets, trumpets and cornets in Bb.
Transposing Eb instruments:
Tenor horns (UK nomenclature) and alto saxophones will find this part useful.
Horn in F:
This is self explanatory. If (by any remote chance) a Cor Anglais becomes available, it could play this part.
Again, self explanatory. An alto trombone could also play from these parts.
This part is intended for cellos, double basses, bassoons, and trombones playing as non-transposing instruments. Occasionally, the bass part goes beyond the conventional range of the double bass and the tenor trombone. For these cases, alternative notes are provided
Transposing Bb instruments in treble clef:
Brass players who are acustommed to using the treble clef (tenor trombone, euphonium, etc) will find this part useful.
Melody for solo or unison verses
It's likely that, sometimes, only a couple of instruments will be available and these, naturally, will want to play the melody - for which these parts are supplied. Most parts are written in two octaves so that players can choose to be bold or reticent, or to make sure that everyone has something within their instruments range.
BASS INSTRUMENTALISTS!!. If playing a melodic part with accompaniment, please resist the temptation to take it down an octave. Doing so could result in strange, inverted harmony.
Occasionally, as relief from a solid harmonic texture, a verse may be taken purely as a unison melody without accompaniment, everyone playing the tune.
BASS INSTRUMENTALISTS!!. In such circumstances, feel free to play in any octave which suits you.
Please remember that the middle and bass parts are ONLY COMPATIBLE with these arrangments, NOT with standard hymn/carol arrangements. This is a result of: making sure that good harmony is used at all times, although only three parts are present; keeping the middle part within range of the violin; and making sure that the keyboard arrangement is within the grasp of most players.
The melody parts ARE COMPATIBLE with most, if not all arrangements.
Generally, the accompanying parts are written with long or tied notes for the sake of simplicity. However, if preferred, the accompanying parts may follow the rhythm of the melody. For instance, the first couple of bars of
The Holly and the Ivy are written like this:
but there is no reason why they can't be played thus:
Similarly, repeated notes may be tied at will, and vice versa.
The Super Slim Carols are arranged in two parts only: the carol melody and a second part.The second part is so constructed that it is in double, or invertible counterpoint with the melody, which means that it doesn't matter if the melody is played by a double bass and the second part by a piccolo, or vice versa; the harmony will still be complete. Of course, there is no restriction on the number or instruments playing any one part - just aim for some balance if possible.
Here is an electronically generated example of The Angel Gabriel with the melody at the top and the second part as a bass:
Here is an electronically generated example of The Angel Gabriel with the melody in the bass and the second part at the top:
For each arrangement the following downloads are available:
So that a rehearsal leader knows what should be going on.
You'll find this under the Melody for solo or unison verses section.
- Second Part
For all the keys and transpositions etc, etc, as above
Although these Super Slim arrangements cannot be used with the Slim arrangements, they can be used in alternation, for the sake of variety.
When you click on THIS LINK you will be taken to the Organists Online site, which is a repository of hymn and carol arrangements. Just scroll down past the display ads to reach the carol arrangements.