Here is another set of recordings based on William Houser’s Hesperian Harp (1848). These recordings consist mainly of Recorders (SATB), Guitars, Accordian, Autoharp and Glockenspiel (occasionally), and Voice. They were recorded around 1988.
The original recordings were made without the dubbed in Nature sounds. It was only later, when I had purchased various tapes in Dan Gibson’s Solitudes series, that the idea occurred to me to mix some of these sounds in as background. This often worked surprisingly well, with the birds coming in at just the right times!
About 60% of the songs were mixed with nature sounds. Of these, I’ve also included the original unmixed version at the bottom of the page.
I should also mention that these are “basement tapes”. They were literally recorded in a basement suite while I lived in Vancouver, BC. Likewise, they are figuratively “basement tapes” in the sense that they are raw, with the occasional mistake, the occasional spontaneous improvisation that didn’t quite work, and so forth. But they have their moments when the “sunlight breaks through the clouds”, where the beautiful message shines through the music in spite of the humble performance.
I recorded the songs one track at a time, using two Cassette Recorders, a small 4-channel Radio Shack Mixer, a Radio Shack pencil Condenser Microphone, and an Equalizer. There are sometimes up to 10 overdubbed tracks, yet the sound quality is fairly good. This surprising result was accomplished by recording one track to one channel of the tape, then playing it back through the mixer, using the Equalizer to enhance the sound, so quality would not be lost after multiple transfers, and recording on the other track. Then the tape was switched and the process repeated, each time mixing the new track to either left or right channels.
Tape hiss was kept to a minimum by using high quality Chrome Tape, Dolby noise reduction, and Equalization to boost the treble just before the Hiss frequencies.
The Recorders were an assortment, mostly wood, but not all of the highest quality. On some tracks, the sound quality of the Recorders was improved by doubling each part. The Guitar was a Fender acoustic, the Accordian a Hohner, the Glockenspiel was a cheap school variety in a plastic case, the Auto-harp an Oscar Schmidt that I modified so that some of the 7th chord bars were changed to minor chords. This made it suit the early American music better, where minor chords were used more freely than in hymns written after the mid-1800’s.
- Bonnie Doon (Star of Bethlehem)
- Bounding Billows
- Camden (Psalm 137: Song of Mourning)
- Campbell (Lift Up Your Heart)
- Christian Travellers
- Christian’s Hope
- Frozen Heart
- Garden Hymn
- Home, Sweet Home
- Invocation (Rise My Soul)
- Joyful Sound / Burnsville
- Lovely Vine
- Mecklenburg / True Love
- Music Feast (Canon)
- Newburg (Let All Creation Praise)
- O Tell Me No More
- Oak’s Creek (Bless the Lord)
- Prescott (The Better Land)
- Sabbath Summons
- Samantha (O Why Should I Wander)
- Sons of Sorrow
- Star of Glory
- Sudbury (What if the Saint Must Die)
- The Faithful Soldier
- The Humble Penitent
- The Landscape
- The Soldier’s Return
- The Spiritual Sailor
- The Turtle Dove
- The Wanderer / Zion’s Call
- Whitestown / How Charming is Jesus
- Winburne (Great Redeemer)
You can also download all the music and song pages in one zip file: JS.zip
Tags: Hesperian Harp