B A R R Y L A N D .



a musical offering.








killer music.
my score for sea world's shamu show, and the story behind it

hear some samples of my first solo effort

we 3 kings.
the protagonists' christmas CD

music to go.
order some of my CDs


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 W henever I do an arrangment of a song that someone else has written, and especially one that's familiar, I try to capitalize on the genius of the original melodist as he or she took a set of words and made them sing. Just as the melody can shine a flashlight onto an aspect of a lyric, my arrangement can hold a mirror to that shining and bring it out, hopefully with some unexpected reflections.

One fine Thursday morning I was awakened by the strained voice of our church organist, Merle Hilbrich, who needed a last-minute offertory on the coming Sunday. Could I do it?

I'd been kicking around an idea, as it happened. I'd heard an interesting mix by the spin doctor Chris Vrenna, who stretched out a tune and added a skittery beat to it. What would happen if you took a similar skittery beat, made it a bit more random, and then set it off against a calm melody?

I got the feel before I got the tune: it would have to be one that was gently melodic, and with a more interesting rhythm than the typical plod of hymns, and yet I wanted it to be immediately recognizable, even to the most stolid ear.

Then from out of the blue came "For the Beauty of the Earth," a classic hymn that's about in the once-a-year rotation at our church. Having settled on that, I began to meditate on exactly what it means.

The lyrics are a sort of scrubbed-up Whitman job, a sundry cataloguing of all the things in life worth noticing and having, with the running punchline "Lord of all, to Thee we raise This, our hymn of grateful praise." The melody there ("to THEEEEEE we raise") rises gratifyingly, and if you sing it right you end up lifting your head high. It somehow captures just the right balance between the satisfying orderliness of God's creation and its exuberance.

Folliott Pierpoint's lyrics, this time around, jumped out at me in all their cosmicness: I found myself leaving the earth of the title and contemplating a vastness in which we're only a dot — a vastness that, far from being bleak, is pictured as a fulsome embrace:

For the beauty of the earth,
For the glory of the skies;
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies ...
For the wonder of each hour,
Of the day and of the night ...
Sun and moon, and stars of light ...
Friends on Earth and friends above ...

So. A musical setting that somehow communicates these ideas in a fresh way, that forces the ear to see, in cinemascope, the tingling, burbling muchness of things.

That all came together pretty well, and reminded me of something I hadn't thought to be thankful for, till Pierpoint phrased it so perfectly:

For the joy of ear and eye,
For the heart and mind's delight;
For the mystic harmony
Linking sense to sound and sight.

Yes. Thanks.


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