As part of the site, I’m uploading music that we use, hopefully to help new visitors, or people elsewhere looking into Orthodox Christianity.
To be honest, I started transcribing the music before I thought of doing the site: I’m not so good at harmony, and I was hoping to get the hang of the bass part before we were due to perform a song (that one’s not up yet, I’ll explain in a bit). It almost worked: singing and thinking the bass tune while hearing the soprano is somewhat tricky.
I’m using MuseScore for my transcription. I came across it a few years ago, when Windows Media Player was sucking at playing Final Fantasy MIDIs. Now I’m getting used to writing in it.
Time signatures in Orthodox church music are somewhat complex. Or to put it another way, they don’t really use bars. In a lot of cases, one tune (a “Tone”) is used for various different texts, so a line of music has to be adapted to different lengths to accommodate varying lengths of text.
What I’ve been doing, then, is when starting a new score, I’ve set a basic time signature (usually Common time), the tempo, and the number of bars I want. Then I delete the “C” denoting Common time (which at an early stage like this changes nothing), and change each bar to the length it needs to be (often between 8/4 and 15/4, few have been less, but a few have been more than that).
Took me a while to figure that out, also took me a while to figure out where to add in tempo, and how to have notes of differing length at the same place in the same stave (using Voices).
The earliest things I transcribed, I need to go back and redo, armed with all these things I’ve picked up along the way.
Today, despite missing the kids-having-rest-time and kids-watching-a-Sunday-show window of opportunity, I managed to do O Gladsome Light, one of my favourite hymns from Vespers. I like the “now that we have come to the setting of the sun” and “for meet it is at all times” parts. Orthodox Wiki has a nice page detailing the history of the song.
I’d started in earnest with transcribing Vespers (fewer changeable hymns), and started at the beginning. At this point I’ve skipped the changeable hymn, because I’m not sure how I’m going to integrate it into the new service book. Another day…
Today, I also started putting files up onto the Files page of the church site. The transcription and that website are my Sunday project, it’s nice to make progress on projects.