Daily Archives: December 12, 2013 12:05 am

A christmas carol ballet class #12: Grands battements en cloche – Carol of the bells

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I just noticed this rose blossoming in my garden, on the 11th December. It came from a friend\s garden, and must be very happy in its new home

I just noticed this rose blossoming in my garden, on the 11th December. It came from a friend\s garden, and must be very happy in its new home

To download the song, either right-click (Mac: ctrl+click) the player above and select ‘save audio as’, or right-click (Mac: ctrl+click) this link and select ‘save link as‘.

It’s 4 x 8, then four in between sides.

Now I have to own up – I can’t stand this carol. The rot really set in when it was used, repeatedly, on a London radio station advert in the run-up to Christmas in recent years. I can’t remember the product, but if you want an idea of what was driving me mad, try this old Garmin advert for size. Apart from anything else, it annoyed me because it was such a bad choice of music – you couldn’t hear or make sense of the words, so you were hearing the concept, rather than its successful execution.

But it goes further than that. Everything that annoys me about choirs and choirmasters is rolled into this one piece – you can just imagine them all making special faces as they do the hemiola. And then, because they sang a hemiola in choir, they’ll get a special thrill every time they hear a hemiola, and an even more special thrill when they tell you it’s a hemiola. I hope I grow to like it again one day, but until then, I can just about take it with a few additions, as in today’s offering. And for the hemiophiles out there, my version has a double hemiola (i.e. on two metric levels)  in the first part, so there.

I suppose for the avoidance of any copyright-related doubt, I should point out that although I’m using the title ‘Carol of the Bells’ for this post, what I’m using is the music to this carol, not the lyrics – but if I’d called it by the original title, few people would have known what I was referring to. The music is out of copyright, as it was written by Mykola Leontovych who died in 1921. Leontovych’s music was based on a Ukrainian New Year’s carol or ‘shchedrivka‘ that’s about swallows, not bells. The bells stuff came later, and those words are still in copyright.  The score of Leontovych’s original, with the Ukrainian words, is available from the IMSLP