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Filtering by Category: My Music

"Christ Child Divine: Christmas Pastorale" for piano

Cory Hall

Many people with classical music educations are aware that the musical form known as the "pastorale" is traditionally associated with Christmas. With Christmas of 2013 fast approaching and only a week away upon composing this work, I felt a strong urge to compose a pastorale for piano that would be accessible to a wide range of pianists. It is not too difficult technically and is extremely gratifying to play and study. PIANISTS GET YOUR COPY OF THE SHEET MUSIC BY CLICKING ON THE LINK BELOW! SHEET MUSIC FOR "CHRIST CHILD DIVINE"!

Pastorales developed sometime in the Middle Ages and were usually played with bagpipes, hurdy gurdies, or other instruments that produce "drone basses." In addition to employing drone basses, pastorals are also always in some form of compound triple meter, the most common being 6/8 and 12/8. I have chosen a slower and more old-fashioned looking 6/4 time -- essentially the same as a 6/8 meter -- to symbolize its uniquely "medieval" character. As one can glean from the word "pastorale," pastorals were always associated with nature, the out of doors, and especially shepherds tending their flocks. It is this reason why pastorals are traditionally associated with Christmas -- that is, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, is the shepherd and his chosen ones (i.e., the saved) are the sheep. Christmas pastorals are peaceful and meditative-style works that should evoke the feeling of shepherds in their fields as well as the wise men visiting the baby Jesus.

I love playing and listening to this pastorale and the story about its composition is really something of a miracle, which proves to me yet one more time of the saving grace of our Lord and the power of his Holy Spirit in my life. I am a "sporadic" type composer in that I will often go long periods without composing anything and then one day I might get a strong urge to improvise and compose a piano piece. Such is the case with Christ Child Divine, which I composed completely from scratch with absolutely no preparation in merely 30 minutes. On December 17, 2013 I was overwhelmed with an unstoppable urge to compose a pastorale after having composed nothing for at least nine months. Everything just flowed out of me from the very beginning. I simply improvised a bit at my Steinway and the two main themes flowed out of me like water. Then, I toyed around with the last section (the coda section) that evening and wrote everything out the next day, the 18th. I wrote this blog and recorded it on the morning of the 19th.

I am constantly amazed at our wonderful God, his Son who died for our sins, and his Holy Spirit which is sent to all those who have been saved. I would have never become a composer had I not been saved in 2011 at the relatively late age of 48, and I constantly thank God for all he has given me. My wish this Christmas is that if you have not been saved that you will be soon. The only path to God and to eternal life is through none other than belief that Jesus Christ was the son of God and that he was born, crucified, buried, and was resurrected through the supernatural power of God the Father. May this pastorale for piano remind you that Christ came to take away the sins of the world and whoever believes in him shall never perish but be granted with everlasting life!

Merry Christmas to all and happy listening to Christ Child Divine!


Exciting New Music for Piano: "In Days of Yore"

Cory Hall

In Days of Yore was composed in April, 2011, and is the first piece in my 4 Medieval Portraits, Opus 2. It is published both separately as well as in the complete Opus 2 set and may be performed as an independent piece. It is ideal for students to seasoned artists, is moderately difficult (perhaps around level 6 or 7), is highly idiomatic and well-written for the piano, and is a joy to play. It is published by BachScholar Publishing, LLC, which offers the highest quality digital sheet music on the internet today. With its "medieval" title and musical material, In Days of Yore is especially well-suited for high-school-age students for study as well as in concerts and recitals. ⇒ BUY THE SHEET MUSIC FOR "IN DAYS OF YORE" HERE! ⇐ ⇒ BUY THE SHEET MUSIC FOR "4 MEDIEVAL PORTRAITS, OPUS 2" HERE! ⇐

Not only does In Days of Yore offer satisfying and alluring music, but it is also of great pedagogical value. The piece consists of two primary alternating sections ("A" and "B") with an additional "C" section that extends out of the "B" section. The "A" section resembles a slow and lyrical siciliano (an old dance from baroque "yore") while the "B" section resembles a canary (not the bird, but an old dance from renaissance "yore") which evolved into the baroque dotted-note gigue. Both of these sections are in 6/8 time, one slow and one fast, and are therefore beneficial in teaching students two highly contrasting aspects of an otherwise often elusive time signature. The "C" section continues the fast 6/8 time established in the "B" section with fast ascending arpeggios introduced in the left hand along with descending parallel, staccato sixths in the right hand. This section is rich and orchestral sounding (with much damper pedal) and is highly "Brahmsian" in character. I believe this section sounds much harder than it really is because everything lies very easily under the hands and fingers. Another beneficial pedagogical aspect of In Days of Yore is pedaling, since all three sections require careful use of the damper pedal.

Performers are free to make up their own stories to accompany In Days of Yore, which is another reason why this piece is so well-suited for high-school-age students. I did not have any program in mind when composing the music, but one invariably pictures such medieval images as castles, knights, battles, romance, and old-world chivalry.

In sum, In Days of Yore offers alluring program music of the highest order that students to seasoned artists are guaranteed to love and cherish for years to come. The musical and pedagogical benefits of In Days of Yore are immense, but at the same time, it is "absolute music" not composed with the intent of being "teaching music" or "pedagogical music" per se. It is simply great music that every pianist should have in his/her repertoire.




Established in 2011 and making its debut on the internet in September, 2012, BachScholar Publishing, LLC, produces quality digital sheet music for pianists. With an emphasis on clean and accurate "Urtext" editions, each BachScholar™ score is meticulously engraved with staves up to a full inch longer than conventional sheet music resulting in exceptionally clear and easy-to-read manuscripts. All scores -- formatted for "letter" and "A4" paper sizes -- are delivered via PDF files for instant downloading, printing, or saving for future reference. BachScholar™ is the first and only publisher in the world to publish and produce exclusively digital sheet music.

BachScholar Publishing holds publishing memberships in both ASCAP and BMI (the latter, doing business as "BachScholar Global Publishing"), permitting composers belonging to either performing rights organization to officially register and publish their works through BachScholar's ASCAP or BMI affiliations. Benefits of publishing with BachScholar™ include: one-on-one personal interaction with the editor and publisher, highest quality musical manuscripts, marketing on YouTube, music presented and sold on a high-quality e-commerce website, royalties for each copy sold. One of BachScholar's missions is to publish and promote the highest quality piano music being written today by our world's most talented composers.

In addition to publishing and producing the highest quality digital piano sheet music on the internet today, BachScholar™ also offers Piano Lessons via Skype to students worldwide. Dr. Hall is a devoted piano teacher with over 30 years' teaching experience who welcomes students of all ages and levels. BachScholar's website also offers a large selection of musical instruments and CDs by popular, worldwide artists. BachScholar Publishing, LLC, is fully accredited by the Better Business Bureau of the United States and Canada.

Exciting New Piano Étude: "Isorhythmic Exultation!"

Cory Hall

It was in the highly prolific year of 2011 that I first began to consider myself a "serious" composer. Around March of that year I began churning out piano work after piano work without even trying. Music simply flowed out of my fingers and into my video camera, and later in 2012 onto paper, with virtually no effort. I recently explained this phenomenon in more detail in a previous post on my 10 Biblical Portraits, Opus 1. BUY THE SHEET MUSIC HERE: ⇒ Isorhythmic Exultation! ⇐

One of my early works in 2011 was the unique and exciting Isorhythmic Exultation!, a secular work and rhythmic etude brimming with infectious momentum and energy. It is the ideal piece for energetic, advanced pianists and is especially ideal for encores. I remember coming up with the initial melody one day in early 2011 but I didn't do anything with it or try to expand upon it for several weeks. The melody was a simple but effective "horn fifth" style tune that sounded something like a cross between "Peanuts" and "Beethoven." It is an incredibly happy and playful melody!

One day I began experimenting and developing it a little further and discovered that the only rhythm that accommodated it was an asymmetrical or "additive" rhythm of 3 + 3 + 2 in which the fastest underlying note value, the eighth, is grouped into two groups of threes followed by one group of two. (In other words, it is simply in 4/4 where the eighth is grouped as 3 + 3 + 2 instead of the traditional 2 + 2 + 2 + 2.) This hypnotic-like rhythm is similar to those used by Béla Bartók in works such as Six Dances in Bulgarian Rhythm, from Mikrokosmos, Vol. 6. The word "Isorhythmic," usually associated with a style of late medieval music, means literally "one rhythm" or "the same rhythm" which is repeated over and over again throughout a composition. Hence, I decided upon the interesting and appropriate title Isorhythmic Exultation! I remember almost titling it "Étude" since it does in fact have strong characteristics of a rhythmic etude.

Isorhythmic Exultation! consists of three sections, A-B-A, in which the first "A" section states the horn-fifth melody and the "B" section serves as an improvisatory or solo section. At the end is an exciting and perpetual-motion style coda. It is in the bright and optimistic key of Eb major. Binding these three sections is an ostinato left-hand accompaniment which functions as the "rhythmic glue" and rarely deviates from its Eb center. The solo right-hand part in the "B" section reminds me of something from the "progressive rock" era, especially the music of Yes. This was unintentional in that I did not sit down and consciously plan it to sound like something from Yes, but rather, it just happened to come out this way. The virtuosic coda brings the work to a hair-raising conclusion.

Advanced-level piano students, professional concert pianists, piano teachers, and audiences are guaranteed to be enthralled by the unique and infectious energy of Isorhythmic Exultation! It is a rhythmic etude of the highest order, is incredibly idiomatic for the piano, and is a joy to practice and perform. Download your copy by clicking on the link below and add this remarkable work to your repertoire!

BUY THE SHEET MUSIC HERE: ⇒ Isorhythmic Exultation! ⇐