1. Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel
3. We Three Kings
Just in time for the Holidays comes the third installment of my “A Holiday EP” series. After a long year of hibernation, my house band of jolly robots, The Singing Sines, are back and energized to bring you four more morsels of frost laden synths and delicious winter beats.
As much as I love Christmas, I felt it was time to give some musical love to another significant Holiday celebrated during the winter season. So this year, along with a couple of traditional Christmas carols, I’ve also reimagined two of the most popular Chanukah carols, “Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel”, and “Sevivon”.
I hope you enjoy this years selection of songs. Once again I’ve attempted to create these pieces so they are not seasonally biased, allowing year-round listening pleasure. So please take a listen again in June and let me know how they work as summer ditties.
If you like what you hear, the download button in the player will take you to my store where you can purchase one or all of the tracks on this EP. As always, thank you for your interest in my music. I greatly appreciate all of you who invest a little time to download or listen to my songs.
Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel
“The Dreidel Song” is probably the most well known Chanukah song to those of us outside of the Jewish religion and tradition, and for those of you who don’t know is about the playing of a traditional game using a spinning top called a dreidel. The dreidel itself is a four sided top with the Hebrew letters nun, gimel, hei, and shin printed on it. The letters represent the words nes gadol hayah sham, which translates to “A great miracle happened there.” Except in Israel where hei is replaced by pei for the word poh. This then changes the meaning to “A great miracle happened here”
I decided to rethink “The Dreidel Song” as a half spoken, half sung piece, and features a new vocalist I’m working with, a bloke by the name of Jim Furey. Yup, me. Ha! It opens with a nice old-timey organ courtesy an old-timey Orchestron and then quickly transforms into a driving electrosynth-fest. Also features are the Logic Retrosynth for pads and the 8-bit “victory jingle”, impOSCar2 from G-Force, and Massive from NI. All beats were programmed in NI’s Maschine using the Pulswerk and Raw Voltage sets.
I have a little dreidel. I made it out of clay.
When it’s dry and ready, then dreidel I shall play.
Oh dreidel, dreidel, dreidel, I made it out of clay.
Oh dreidel, dreidel, dreidel, then dreidel I shall play
It has a lovely body, with legs so short and thin.
When it gets all tired, it drops and then I win!
Dreidel, dreidel, dreidel, with leg so short and thin.
Oh dreidel, dreidel, dreidel, it drops and then I win!
My dreidel’s always playful. It loves to dance and spin.
A happy game of dreidel, come play now let’s begin.
Oh dreidel, dreidel, dreidel, it loves to dance and spin.
Oh dreidel, dreidel, dreidel. Come play now let’s begin.
I have a little dreidel. I made it out of clay.
When it’s dry and ready, dreidel I shall play.
Oh dreidel, dreidel, dreidel, I made you out of clay.
Oh dreidel, dreidel, dreidel, then dreidel I shall play.
After a song about playing the traditional game with a dreidel, we’ll now switch to a song named after the dreidel. Sevivon is Hebrew for dreidel, which is Yiddish for a spinning top. While “The Dreidel Song” has gained popularity in Western culture, “Sevivon” is mostly known in Israel or those familiar with the Hebrew language. The traditional version of Sevivon accelerates throughout reaching a fever pitch by the end. I couldn’t say no to tradition, so expect to be dancing your tail off by the time this song is done.
For this decidedly electrosynth piece I’ve utilized pretty much all of my vaunted emulators of old-school gear. Strings from a Philicorda, an Orchestron choir, an ARP Oddysey, an OSCar, even a MiniMoog all make appearances. And it’s all tied together with drums provided NI’s Maschine using sounds from the Pulswerk and Raw Voltage kits.
We Three Kings
“We Three Kings” was written by Rev. John Henry Hopkins, Jr. in 1857. It was featured in the annual holiday pageants he organized for the General Theological Seminary in NYC. The song is the story of the three Kings, or wise men, who visited Jesus upon his birth, bringing gifts to the newborn child. Gaspar brought gold, Melchior brought Frankincense, and Balthazar brought Myrrh. All wonderful gifts for any newborn.
Musically, this is a bit of a departure for me, slowing down the pace and bringing in a more R&B influenced vibe. I’ve also drawn influence from jazz and prog-rock to round out the sound. You’ll hear luscious sounds from the following emulated and/or sampled sources: MiniMoog, Moog Taurus, OSCar, ARP Omni, Freeman strings, Super-NES, C-64, and even some PPG Wave-esque wavetable fun. Glueing it all together are live sounding drum kits from NI’s Maschine using sounds from the Helios Ray and Platinum Bounce sets.
There’s nothing like a little controversy when it comes to the history of beloved Christmas carols. Was “Greensleeves” written by Henry VII for his future queen Anne Boleyn? Not likely. Was it written about a promiscuous young woman as implied by the use of the color green and its link to promiscuity in the 1500’s? Inconclusive, as other original lyrics suggest the opposite. Well, we can say that it was originally written by Londoner Richard Jones in late 1580! No, not even that, as 6 other songs of the same name were also registered in London by the end of 1581. Sigh. So what do we know?
We know that structure wise, Greensleeves is an English folk song based on an Italian format referred to as romanesca or passamezzo antico. We know that Shakespeare references the song in his 1602 play “The Merry Wives of Windsor”. We know that by the end of the 1600’s “Greensleeves” was being associated with Christmas and New Years. We know that in 1865 William Chatterton Dix penned new lyrics, changing the song to the more well known “What Child is This?”. And finally we know that in the UK, Australia, and New Zealand that the tune from “Greensleeves” is popular for use in ice cream vans. Whew! At least we know something about it!
I can also tell you that I’ve gone with a dramatic interpretation of “Greensleeves”. It opens with a soprano solo over a brooding abstract organ, strings, and choir chord motif. This eventually gives way to a gentle melodic telling of the tune backed by a slowly filling out backdrop of the same choir, strings, and organ.
Musically, all instrumentation is provided by my trusty impOSCar 2, and the choir and soprano are provided via NI’s Kontakt sample engine.