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Our family is celebrating the 12 days of Christmas and after singing the song I wondered about it’s length.

So I did a little measure counting math. For those of you who have been forced to listen to or sing the entire song and you’ve been wondering about this, here is your answer.

When singing “The Twelve Days Of Christmas”, when you get to the Eight Verse (Eight Maids A Milking), Just at “Five Golden Rings!”     . . . right at that point you are half way through singing it.

Yes, I know, you’ve always wondered.

If I worked in a retail store during the month of December I would continually be in a state of nervousness about holiday greetings: “What if a customer talks to me!? What do I say at the end of our conversation? Anything I say might set my customer off!”

I think I would just avoid eye contact.

So the other day I was in the studio with PhilTheCarl and we were looking at a song I’d written. At one point he was looking at the chords and he asked what seemed like a good question: “Why do you have both A sharp and B flat here?”

On the face of it, this question makes sense. I mean, these two chords require the same notes! I’m afraid he thought I’d made a mistake in my notation. Hahahaha*. I’d never do that! I’m an awesome musical notater, impervious to the possibility of doing something as (to a casual musician) obviously wrong as that.

No. No mistake was made, I assure you. It comes down to this. I think the really astute musician will be able to differentiate between the two, and even come to the point where they might choose one over the other. It’s my opinion that an A sharp just feels different from a B flat.** Other chords work this way as well.

Can’t you just hear two elder English musicians listening to some fine music . . .

“Ah yes, that’s a proper G sharp, that is”
“Indeed, subtly but still notably different from an A flat!”

* Yes, I know ‘hahahaha’ isn’t a real word. But as I see no options when I right-click on it for a correct spelling, I ask the reader to think of this a gently condescending chuckling.

** And don’t get me started about how a dotted quarter note is not the same as a quarter note tied to an eighth note.

I’d really like it if next year I could hear a new version of ‘Christmas Time Is Here’ (From the Peanuts Christmas). My hope is that it would not include brush drum stick percussion and actually sound happy.

Every December, I am thankful. . .

When I was in high-school, I spent two years in a madrigal ensemble. During the Christmas season both years our group went out in renaissance regalia and caroled in malls and clubs and nursing homes, and our director, Mr. Anderson, pretty much forced us to memorize 3 or 4 verses of 8 or 9 standard Christmas carols.

“No more let sin or sorrow reign, nor thorns infest the ground!”

And even now when we sing these songs at church, or when our family goes Christmas caroling with our small group, I often don’t have to look at the book. Because I know them. And I’m grateful.

So if you happen to know a guy named Glen Anderson who taught choral music in New Brighton, MN during the mid 80’s, tell him thanks from me.

This Month marks the ten year anniversary of the death of the popularity for that great musical masterpiece The Young Messiah.

Let us take a second and share a moment of silence to reflect on this important work.




Okay, that’s enough.

I have two goals for this post:

1. I want to recommend the new PBS Masterpiece Theater version of Sherlock. You can watch the first three episodes free right now for the next week. Go check it out. Warning: Not for kids.

2. I want to comment on a pivotal scene from the first episode “Study in Pink”.

This version of Sherlock describes himself as a “high-functioning sociopath” and most people who work with him are reasonably bothered by how distanced he is from normal human behavior.

They discover that the mystery word ‘Rachel’ (a key plot point) is actually the name of the stillborn daughter of the murdered woman. Sherlock Holmes is momentarily mystified. Watson tries to make a suggestion.

Watson: ‘Maybe he, I don’t know, talks to them? Maybe he used to the death of her daughter somehow.’
Sherlock: ‘It was ages ago, why would she still be upset?’

The room goes quiet. Everyone just stares at him.

Sherlock: “Not good?”
Watson: “A bit not good, yeah”

I see this as a shout out to Moms who have experienced stillborn loss.

I saw this and thought – the people who wrote this are sending a message:

Moms who have gone through this sadness, it is our opinion that anyone who doesn’t understand that your grief lasts a long time – people who don’t get that it is reasonable that you are still ‘upset’ – these people have significant personality deficiencies. Pay them no mind.

I appreciate this from the screenwriters. Good for them.

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December 2010