Gordon Green: Impossible Christmas





Impossible Christmas


Gordon Green






Impossible Christmas




Every year at Christmas time I'm struck by the predictability of most of the Christmas music that crowds the record stores and airwaves. In this collection I tried to show the Christmas classics in a different light, to take a fresh look at what are some of the most beautiful melodies in circulation. Fortunately, most of these tunes have qualities that make them good for adaptation they are distinctive but simple enough to be recognized in distorted harmonic settings, they do not depend on any particular kind of interpretation, and they are familiar enough to lampoon.




My approach was to match each tune with a favorite idiom. Marching band music, rock and roll, carousel music, African and Latin American percussion, orchestral music, and Indian classical music were the main inspirations. In some cases the influence was direct: Silent Night Snowfall is in the style of Terry Riley's A Rainbow on Curved Air; The Star of Christmas paraphrases the end of the Scherzo from Mahler's Second Symphony; and the harmony of Strauss's Four Last Songs is quoted in Silent Night Starlight. Some of Brian Eno's textures are imitated in Lullaby and March, Ivo Papasov's music was the inspiration for the altered meter in Russian Dance, and Messiaen's bird-call piano music was the basis for the bridge of Silent Night Kaleidoscope. Charles Ives' Fourth Symphony made it clear that, in orchestral music, anything is possible, which led to the treatment in Twelve Dazes and Medley.




I orchestrated the arrangements using synthesizers and samplers controlled via MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface), which was the only way to accommodate such a variety of styles. MIDI allows for complete freedom and spontaneity of orchestration, and for figuration that would be impossible for a human player to negotiate. The process has the extra benefit of being more intuitive like a painting, the entire musical canvas is always available, and the timbral palette is immediately at hand.




Because this recording was made using only synthesizers and samplers with very few custom sounds, the credit for the synthetic instruments belongs to the sound designers and manufacturers of the hardware. The synthesizers I used were an expanded Roland JV-1080 for most of the lead instruments and drums, an Alesis S4 Plus for thinner reinforcing sounds and artificial-sounding synthesizer leads, and a Kurzweil K2000RS sampling synthesizer for orchestral instruments and pianos.




All of the MIDI sequencing was done using Vision for Windows by Opcode Systems running on a Pentium PC with MIDI expansion using a Mark of the Unicorn MIDI Express. The MIDI controllers were a Yamaha Clavinova and a Roland PC200. It was mixed using a Mackie 3204 line mixer with two Lexicon reverb units and DBX noise gates, monitored with Alesis Monitor One speakers and an Alesis RA-100 amp, and recorded using a Sony DTC-A7 DAT recorder. Extra reverb, compression, and equalization were added during mastering.




Gordon Green




Mastering by Jonathan Wyner at M Works in


Cambridge, Massachusetts.




Cover illustration by Amy Hill.




Special thanks to Jonathan Robbins for his tireless assistance.




Gordon Green's music can also be heard on Arrangements and Variations for Digital Piano, which Fanfare Magazine called "elegantinspiredan impressive marriage of technology and art," and the LP May 10, 1984.




This recording was made possible by the 1995--96


W. K. Rose Fellowship in the Creative Arts from Vassar College.




All selections ©1996 by Gordon Green


and published by Improbable Music, BMI.






1. Deck the Halls (1:27)




2. Get Down All Ye Faithful (1:18)




3. The First Noel (1:26)




4. We Wish You a Delirious Christmas (:23)




5. God Rest You Weary Gentlemen (3:06)




6. The Holly and the Ivy (1:02)




7. Silent Night Carousel (1:18)




8. The Star of Christmas Morning (1:46)




9. The Dance of the Heavy Metal Fairies (:59)




10. March (2:39)




11. Russian Dance (with bird song obligato) (:45)




12. Silent Night Snowfall (4:51)




13. We Three Kings (1:28)




14. Hark! The Herald Angels Swing (1:46)




15. Silent Night Fantasy (1:24)




16. Joy to the World (:33)




17. Silent Night Dirge (1:40)




18. The Twelve Dazes of Christmas (2:48)




19. Silent Night Starlight (2:13)




20. Angels (1:44)




21. Jingling Bells (1:32)




22. Cool King Wenceslas (1:22)




23. O Holy Night (1:34)




24. Silent Night Kaleidoscope (2:26)




25. Hallelujah (2:23)




26. Ukrainian Musette (3:34)




27. Christmas Medley (3:00)




28. Silent Night Raga (4:07)




29. Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring (4:36)




30. Silent Night Lullaby (2:45)






Total Time = 62:02