December 15, 2013: Pastorales

December 15, 2013 01:22

PastoraleW. Zeitler
"Good Christian Folk, Rejoice"J.S. Bach (1685-1750)
— organ

A ‘pastorale’ is officially a musical piece of a “pastoral nature in music, whether in form or in mood.“ Theoretically this might be any music suggesting the countryside, but traditionally this has come to mean a piece in 6/8 (“ONE two three FOUR five six“) with a simple bass line and simple instrumentation. The [crazy] idea is that this is what shepherds might actually play (!) as they were bored out of their skulls watching sheep 24/7 for years and years, but then, Hollywood – or its equivalent in centuries past – isn’t exactly known for verisimilitude.

Shepherds are especially prominent in the Christmas story, so there is an abundance of ‘pastorales’ for the Christmas season. Handel has one in his Messiah – it introduces the nativity section (the movement immediately following his Pastorale is “There were shepherds abiding in the field“). Bach has one in his Christmas Oratorio introducing the second movement (about the shepherds). And there is no lack of additional examples.

Last week we heard a pastorale by Charles Wesley Jr. This week, we have a pastorale composed by yours truly. And — the postlude is an arrangement of "Good Christian Folk, Rejoice" by Bach which for all intents and purposes is yet another pastorale.

My Pastorale was originally composed for glass armonica and recorder consort:

The mp3 is here

The pdf of the score is here

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