While Shepherds Watched – Learning TracksView Paul Ayres's Full Store
This setting is one of many from Paul Ayres’s collection of straightforward, strophic, three-part a cappella Christmas arrangements, specifically designed for carolling & busking. Paul writes: “over the years, working with choirs and vocal groups of many shapes and sizes, I found there was a need for decent arrangements of carols that could be prepared quickly for Christmas carolling requests, which often come in at the last minute! Hence this ever-expanding set of arrangements (every November I add one or two more to the collection). The songs have been arranged with several principles in mind. Firstly, they are strictly in three parts, soprano-alto-baritone, with no divisi or solo lines. This makes them suitable for the many choirs that have more S&A than T&B, and also means that the music can be performed by a vocal trio. Secondly, they are all strophic – that’s to say, the same harmonies for each verse – so they don’t take too long to learn, and can be sung with as many or as few verses are needed. Thirdly, the musical settings aren’t, I hope, too fussy and “over-arranged” – they can be easily learned by singers of all abilities, and are pretty much sightreadable by experienced musicians. Fourthly, and importantly – just because it’s three-part texture, this doesn’t mean that the voice-leading and harmonies need to be boring. In fact, the musical sonorities of SABar voicing can actually be more interesting and refreshing than the rather leaden & lumpy SATB “hymn-book” versions of carols that can sometimes be heard. I hope you’ll enjoy them!”
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