This section contains mostly some experiments with a Yamaha PSS-480 synthesizer and early American “fuging tunes“. There are a few other recordings mixed in among the lot, some with real instruments and singing, but the bulk of the songs use the Yamaha PSS.
These recordings were made a few years after I discovered an original copy of the Hesperian Harp (1848) in a used bookstore in Vancouver, BC, Canada (appx. 1987). It was one of my first contacts with this unusual form of sacred music, and it deeply impressed me.
There were two distinct styles in this book (as in similar books from that time period): a folk-hymn style, based on Irish/Scottish/English folk music; and a native American innovation: the fuging tune (although this style was at least partly inspired by the Gallery Music tradition from England). Both of these styles were more exciting, original, much less sentimental, and more ruggedly beautiful than the standard revival hymns of the later 1800’s by the likes of Moody, Sankey, and Fanny Crosby.
Some years after discovering this branch of sacred music, I produced a songbook collection based on the folk-hymn style: Song in the Night. This is offered in PDF format on this website.
The other style: the “fuging tune” is represented by a series of instrumental recordings performed on the Yamaha PSS-480, a lovely little FM Synthesized keyboard.
Since I did not belong to a choir, nor did my friends know sight-reading well enough to perform the fuging tunes, recording them into the keyboard’s memory helped me to hear what they sounded like. I also had fun experimenting with the sound-shaping capability of the keyboard…each pre-programmed instrumental voice was comprised of two frequency oscillators, which could be individually tweaked to produce something far more interesting than the out-of-the-box sounds.
The recordings were made in 1990, before the advent of the Internet and personal computers. At that time, they were recorded from the keyboard onto cassette tape. But for their current form on this website, they have been re-mastered in Cakewalk Sonar, with some equalization, Sonic Maximizer processing, and a bit of stereo enhancement added to brighten them up.
This is not easy-listening music, nor is it a polished recording. The tracks were recorded one-by-one into the keyboard’s memory, and sometimes a live part was added during the final recording onto cassette. Parts were switched in and out, tempo and tuning were adjusted on the fly, for variety. The keyboard was not touch-sensitive, so there are very little dynamics. I am not a trained keyboard player, so there are mistakes.
This is an experimental work! If you enjoy synthesized performances of classical music, and have an open mind and ear for new and different sounds and combinations of tones, you will enjoy these recordings. They do, however, (I hope) convey some of the excitement and energy that is in this unique early American musical format.
(Note: three of the songs offered in this section are from Lutheran sources, not from the early American tradition: These are the Holy Ten Commands; Be Not Dismayed, Thou Little Flock; and All Glory Be To God On High.)
- All Glory Be To God On High
- Angel’s Song
- Babylonian Captivity
- Be Not Dismayed, Thou Little Flock
- Christian Travellers
- Dance of Victory
- Evening Shade
- Golden Hill
- Heavenly March
- Kind Farewell
- Minister’s Farewell
- Mount Cumberland
- New Concord
- New Hope
- Pilgrim’s Prayer
- The Family Bible
- These are the Holy Ten Commands
- Voice of Nature
- Way to Zion