Extra service: A list of AQ's Simply Classic pieces / state of Jan 2011


Music and Musings - Part 5: Tunes adapted from Classical Music

The main page and this sub-page present self-made music, texts and sheet music. ("Some rights reserved.")

Some of the entries in this sub-table appear as well in the main table if tunes appear in suites together with other ones.

A note on this sub-table's topic: I'm fully aware that my autoharp playing can NOT do justice to the tunes that the classical composers gave to mankind. This is so for at least three reasons: First, my limited abilities; second, the technical limits of the autoharp, where only a limited number of chords are available and a melody note cannot be combined with any arbitrary chord (even if available); third, the limit on the speed of notes being played in quick succession, a limit depending on the autoharp's configuration.
Therefore my approach to classical tunes is always an approximation, sometimes better, but often rather far from the target. Ut desint vires, tamen est laudanda voluntas.
Actually, I don't care that much. Why hesitate trying to play a beautiful tune if at least *I* am pleased? (Cf. the entry in the bottom of this table!)

But seriously, why do I want to learn playing classical tunes? Well, for two reasons: I love beautiful melodies; classical music offers a wealth of them, and not only beautiful tunes but also interesting ones because inventiveness is often what made a brilliant composer famous.
The second reason is audiences in Germany: Most of the people here have never heard of O'Carolan, never heard an Appalachian fiddle tune or an English country dance tune, and know a Celtic tune only if the Dubliners once turned one into a pop hit. But they usually know quite a lot of classical tunes and hold a certain respect for them. And this respect carries over to my autoharp, if I play such a tune with some credibility, the latter meaning particularly: getting at least the melody right!
For both reasons I continually work on expanding my classical repertoire.

If you want to search for a certain tune, I recommend using your browser's Find function, usually invoked by pressing command-F or control-F.

In the recordings presented here, I play my d'Aigle Cascade Custom autoharp except where noted. Its chords layout and string schedule are shown here.
These recordings are in NO WAY AND NOT AT ALL meant to represent modern autoharp playing styles - they present only my own kind of melody playing, always displaying "work in progress"!
Virtually all my new recordings are made using procedure (B) - see below - and thus don't render a true autoharp sound. This can be easily seen (and heard!) by comparing recordings of the d'Aigle 'harp with those of the ZephyrHill or the old OS 85C: the magnetic pickups on all three 'harps produce practically the same sound whereas the 'harps differ acoustically very much. (Recordings of the ZephyrHill and the OS 85C are marked by an asterisk at the 'B'.)


A short note on the PRINCIPLES according to which I assign CHORDS for autoharp melody playing


The table, below, is organized as follows.

The ID column contains an identifying label allowing cross-reference. In this sub-table, most of the labels are the composer's name (or a significant part of it) and a number; the rows are sorted according to these labels.

In the Recordings column you find links to MP3 files, made on my iMac with Audacity and exported with (mostly) bit rate 64 MP3 encoding, in order to save space (and because they are not CD quality anyway).
I recorded to Audicity -
(A) "acoustically", by playing directly into my iMac's little built-in microphone,
(B) "electrically", by using a USB audio interface (Edirol UA-1EX) with input directly (or recently via a Fishman G II pre-amp) from my autoharp's magnetic pickup
(C) otherwise, as explained in singular cases.
(The numbers in parentheses following the links give the playing time in minutes and the file size in megabytes.)

In the Notes column you find remarks concerning the Recording and/or the Notation entry of the same row; sometimes also links to longer texts.

In the Notation column you find links to sheet music that I made primarily for me in order not to forget the arrangement I figured out for playing a certain tune, ideally the tune presented in the Recording column of the same row.
However, sometimes there is no recording yet available of the printed music, and for some recordings I haven't made the sheets.
For proper understanding of my sheet music, you are advised to read about the principles I adhere to, see link above!

ID Recordings Notes Notation
Bach #1 J.S.Bach, Menuet BWV Anh. 114 / Bach's "Minuet in G"
(B, 2011-02-25) (2:40 min / 1.3 MB)

Played twice: first slowly, then in (probably right?) faster tempo.
(In measures 20 and 21, cf. my sheet music, I play the B7 instead of the G chord.)
In a posting to the Cyberpluckers, music professor Kathie Hollandsworth explains why just this one of Bachs's many minuets (in G and other keys) is commonly known as Bach's "Minuet in G".

In a Cyberpluckers posting a few days later, I discuss my chords assignment for this piece and a few other points. (Some parts, not relevant here, are deleted from that post.)
J.S.Bach, Menuet BWV Anh. 114 / Bach's "Minuet in G"
Bach #2 A joyful first try
(B, 2010-02-01) (2:01 min / 0.96 MB)

[I think I can do better, but not today. Please excuse the rather sudden end: My hands were hurting.]
A tune that I recently resumed working on:
(A theme from J.S.Bach's "Jesus Joy of Man's Desiring")
Ein Thema aus "Jesus bleibet meine Freude" (BWV 147)

Since I made this sheet so many years ago, the tonicization in the bridge (where the G7 chord appears) isn't marked as would be advisable according to the PRINCIPLES referred to above. Sorry!
Beethoven #1 Ode to Joy / An die Freude
(B, 2010-06-06) (1:59 min / 0.96 MB)

Played 3 times: 1st time in the key of D, trying to keep close to the sheet music; 2nd time in the key of G; 3rd time in the key of C.

During the first time through, you can hear strings being damped "die with a moan": This is probabely due to chordbars needing re-felting, I'm afraid.
The part in the key of D of my sheet music follows closely Beethoven's original score (table of content), particularly with respect to the harmonisation for autoharp: The line of the bass vocal soloist together with that of the first violin (cf. measures 241 ff. in the score, p. 115 ff.) determines the choice of chords, D and A7 -- except for measure 12 in my sheet, where the tonicization from D to A (and back) is motivated by the chorus voices in measures 543 ff. in the Beethoven score, p. 141 ff.
[By the way, having never studied reading scores, being a bloody amateur, I hate to do it, especially when there is a variety of clefs and other signs I never saw before. Now, of course, I'm forearmed against future encounters with alien clefs!]
An die Freude / Ode To Joy
from the Symphony No.9, 4th Movement, Allegro assai, by Ludwig van Beethoven, 1823
in the original key of D on page 1 of the sheet music,
in the key of G on page 2 of the sheet music,
in the key of C on page 3 of the sheet music.

A MIDI made from page 1 of the sheet music:
Ode To Joy (MIDI)
Beethoven #2 A "lyrical" rendition of the first half of
Menuett G-Dur / Minuet G major
(B, 2011-01-08) (1:05 min / 0.56 MB)
In the Godowsky Edition, there is much interesting info given, particularly the remarkable hint for the player: "Our great-grandparents expressed their moods of contentment with an inflection of sorrow;--by gentle sighs, by fugitive sentimental yearnings." Listening carefully to my rendition, you hear that I'm heeding this hint with the fullest compliance!

In the Night, No-One Likes to Be Without One
(B*, 2011-05-08) (1:35 min / 0.79 MB)
* played on my ZephyrHill 'harp
A tune that I recently started working on:

Based on the original score, available e.g. here and here, my first arrangement omits the Trio part, the newer second one adds this part to the unaltered first one. (My favourite YouTube video of this piece is this guitar version.)

By the way, Beethoven's tune obviously inspired a pop composer, Franz Grothe, more than a century later to a melody made famous by Marika Rökk. However, I really like Anita Lindblom's version.
I tried a translation of this song's lyrics (skipping the lengthy intro part):
In the Night, No-One Likes to Be Without One
First half of
Menuett G-Dur / Minuet G major
Ludwig van Beethoven

Note that the dim7th chords are not really required here: the c# and a# are found together in the F#7 chord, the g# in the E7 chord. And, as usual with my arrangements, marking tonicization helps with positioning the "tonic finger".

[Those who care for their mental sanity better ignore the silly words in the sheet!]

The following sheet has a 2nd page added with a chords assignment for the 2nd half of this minuet, the Trio part:
Menuett G-Dur / Minuet G major (incl. Trio)
Bizet #1 Habanera
(A, January 2007) (2:48 min / 1.3 MB)

For a version of this tune mixed with another one see my YouTube video !
This file was the first one I put up on my former Web site. Obviously (or so I hope), this recording is inspired by an aria from Georges Bizet's opera Carmen. -
Bizet #2 (being prepared - check back later) A tune that I recently resumed working on:

[Please ignore the German words in the sheet.]
March of the toreros
from Georges Bizet's opera Carmen
Dvorak #1 A demonstration of my arrangement in the key of G:
(B*, 2011-01-23) (1:30 min / 0.75 MB)
* played on my ZephyrHill 'harp
A tune that I recently resumed working on:

Based on the first half (i.e. pages 1 & 2) of the original score, available here, my version is transposed and considerably simplified. And I took some liberties with respect to chords assignment. (If the chords are there on the autoharp, why not use them?!)
My arrangement in the key of C:
Humoreske (1st half of Opus 101, Nr. 7)
Antonin Dvorak

And the same arrangement in the key of G:
Humoreske (1st half of Opus 101, Nr. 7)
Antonin Dvorak
Martini #1 Playing around with my autoharp arrangement in the key of G:
Noodling Plaisir d'amour
(B, 2011-02-12) (3:08 min / 1.5 MB)

This famous melody was composed in 1780 by the German Johann Paul Ägidius Schwarzendorf, who resettled at the age of 19 years to France and later changed his name to Jean Paul Egide Martini.
In Meg Peterson's "Mel Bay's Complete Autoharp Songbook" (ISBN 0-87166-769-X), the tune is called an "Italian Melody by Giovanni Martini". Such deplorable indiligence is very much disappointing from an author I generally appreciate very much.
In that book as in my arrangement, the tune is incomplete as the C part is omitted. A soulful recording of the whole song, including the C part, can be listened to here (search under "Titre" for "Plaisir" and then click on the link in the window to the right).
In order to fill here a gap, long time annoying me, I made at last a sheet showing my autoharp arrangement in the key of G:
Plaisir d'amour (without C part)
J.P.E. Martini

On a standard Oscar Schmidt or Chromaharp, it sounds probably better in the key of F:
Plaisir d'amour (without C part)
J.P.E. Martini
(And because Jan asked for it, here it is in the key of D:
Plaisir d'amour (without C part)
J.P.E. Martini
Mozart #1 Come May & May has come
(B, 2010-05-06) (3:08 min / 1.5 MB)

The first tune (by Mozart!) is first played slowly and then in (probably?) adequate tempo (which was a bit too fast for my slow thinking about the tag - more practice needed!).
My English lyrics follow closely the German lyrics' rhyming scheme and, I hope, render the gist of the 1st verse as well. Komm, lieber Mai (Come, cherished May)
(The whole of measure 14 can be played using an Em7 (E minor seventh) chord if one has one. I don't.)

The complete German lyrics can be found on the Internet, e.g. with Ingeborg.
Mozart #2 Champagne Aria transmogrified
(B, 2011-01-29) (1:10 min / 0.6 MB)

This demo recording is played considerably slower than the aria is usually sung.

Note the "chromatic walk", the stepping down in semitones, in measures 14 - 16. I'd love to have the sevenths sequence: F#7, B7, E7, A7, D7; however, to stay in the key, I compromised and settled for the sequence F#7, B7, E7, Em, B7.
For an instructive rendition, showing even a marker wandering over the score notation, watch this YouTube video!
The score in the video is in the key of A, the score referred to in the column to the right is given in the key of Bb, Mozart's original key (as verified by consulting the Mozarteum site). But my 'harp is not configured to play in Bb, so I chose the key of A, which anyway sounds best on my 'harp.

In my sheet music, there you'll find also interesting new lyrics - in German. So if you don't read German yet, you better learn it soon: your little effort will be greatly rewarded by delighting in my wonderful words! :-)
An autoharp arrangement in the key of A (based on an edition for electronic organ):
Champagnerarie-Auszug / Champagne Aria extract
(from opera "Don Giovanni" by W.A.Mozart)

Comparing pages 112 ff. in the - Caution: real huge, ca. 58 MB - vocal score PDF file, you see that this excerpt follows mostly the voice line, in a few places the piano right hand line instead.
By the way, this score gives not only the original Italian words but also English lyrics that I really like.
Mozart #3 Yesterday I presented v0.1 of a "beta version":
Give Me a Hand (I won't keep it!)
(B*, 2011-02-06) (1:22 min / 0.69 MB)
* played on my ZephyrHill 'harp

Today I recorded a slowed down version 0.2 (with letting the handbrake off a bit towards the end):
Give Me a Hand (with the handbrake)
(B*, 2011-02-07) (1:54 min / 0.94 MB)
* played on my ZephyrHill 'harp

Note another "chromatic walk", a less obvious one, the repeated stepping down in semitones, beginning in the 2nd half of measure 15 and continuing through to the 1st half of measure 18, with a thrice repeated zigzag shaped 7ths sequence: E7, D, A7, D, D7, D. I truly love such a run for its structural, formal beauty! [And I actually love playing that D7 just before the D, even if the difference is barely audible! This is not a matter of practicality, it's a matter of principle, of morals and ethics, a matter of standing by what one has seen as truth, a matter of character, of plain ... formalistic stubbornness!]
My arrangement covers about the first half of the performance in this YouTube video.
Although Mozart put the duet in the key of A, my arrangement is in the key of G because my 'harp is lacking "sharp" chords needed for the tonicization going as far as the key of B.
Again, detailed info can be found on the Mozarteum site, while the simpler score in the PDF file (see link in right column) is easier to comprehend. Have a look there and you'll see that my A part, the first 8 measures, is an amalgam of Giovanni's and Zerlina's lines (originally adding up to 18 measures); a similar procedure applies for the B part, my next 3 lines (the 1st one using again also the piano part, the 2nd one replacing a long note with the corresponding pattern of the B part's first line); in order not to have to learn too many notes and chords, my C part is a reprise of my A part with an ending adapted from the original.
(Mozart seemingly doesn't like to write two or more identical lines. But the lazy autoharper is fond of repetition! As is, by the way, the ordinary folk musician as well!)
A modified autoharp arrangement in the key of G (based on an edition for electronic organ) of about the first half of:
La ci darem la mano / Reich mir die Hand mein Leben / Give me thy hand oh fairest
(from opera "Don Giovanni" by W.A.Mozart)

Compare pages 76 ff. in the same file as referred to above, the real huge vocal score PDF file.

Note: I studied the score to see what harmonising chords Mozart was thinking of - but then sometimes chose what I like better! The autoharp is neither an orchestra nor a piano, so anyway not able to realise an original score fully. And some creative interpretation is surely legal, isn't it?
Schubert #1 2/3 der Forelle / Two Thirds of The Trout (The A part, played twice)
(B, 2010-11-13) (1:42 min / 0.84 MB)
The chords in the autoharp arrangement are entirely mine: I learned this piece ca. 10 years ago from a collection for tin whistle, showing only the bare melody line (and below each note which holes have to be open, which closed). [I once got the tin whistle and the printed music on the occasion of visiting the Guinness Brewery Museum in Dublin. But I never learned to properly play the whistle, probably because I forgot, after returning from Ireland, to regularly drink what is purportedly good for one's health.] Halbe Forelle / Half of Trout

This is the A part of Franz Schubert's Trout, the easy part, only.
Schumann #1 Fröhlicher Landmann / Happy Farmer
(B, 2010-06-08) (2:12 min / 1.1 MB)
200 years ago today, 8 June 2010, Robert Schumann was born, the composer of many well known melodies. One piece really easy to play is "Fröhlicher Landmann" (Happy Farmer). Fröhlicher Landmann (Happy Farmer)

[According to above mentioned PRINCIPLES no chord symbols would be needed here; I supplied them anyway - just to show I'm not a dogmatist!]
Smetana #1 Moldau-Thema + Alle meine Entchen
(B, 2011-07-17) (3:35 min / 1.7 MB)

After a "prelude" on my 'harp's lowest strings, I go twice through the Moldau/Vltava theme (in the key of A minor), segueing into a couple of "Entchen" in 6/8 time, first in the key of A minor (again harmonic minor), then in C major, and finally in 4/4 time also in the key of C major (but using the Dm chord at several places: pseudo-Dorian!).

Why the key of A minor is the ideal key for my d'Aigle autoharp becomes obvious if you look at the tune's central melody notes in that key -- a, b, c, d, e, f -- and compare them with the lowest strings on my autoharp!
Music scholars seem to disagree whether the folk tune used in "Alle meine Entchen" was older or whether Smetana's composition was simplified into that folk tune. It doesn't matter really because both tunes can be traced back to a much older one: La Mantovana.

The first verse of the children's song is in German as follows:
  Alle meine Entchen
  schwimmen auf dem See,
  schwimmen auf dem See:
  Köpfchen in das Wasser,
  Schwänzchen in die Höh.
My attempt at translating this:
  All my ducklings, swimming
  on the lake they dare,
  on the lake they dare:
  head into the water,
  tail into the air.
An autoharp arrangement in the key of A minor (instead of the original key of E minor):
Thema aus "Die Moldau" ("Vltava" theme) from the symphonic cycle "Ma vlast" (My Country) by Bedrich Smetana
(in the sheet preceded, for obvious reasons, by a German children's song: note the "pseudo-Dorian" chords assignment!)

Not only to get the melody right, but also to see which chords Smetana used, I downloaded the piano score from this download site; but then didn't want to invest the time needed for meticulously checking every note -- so my chords may not always be (or sufficiently approximate) Smetana's. (You find more info and a recording of Vltava here.)
Verdi #1 see the 2nd tune in the recording referred to in the row with ID label "suite #1", below Sound advice for the autoharp player: Sometimes it is better to look before you jump to far away chord buttons while having your fingers dancing wildly on the buttons array!

["la traviata" means "the woman led astray"]

June 2011: A second page has been added to the sheet music. It sports more minor chords but less extreme jumps.
Don't be led astray, look to find your way!
An advice based on a simplified version of the tune for the duet "Parigi, o cara, noi lasceremo" near the end of the opera "La Traviata" by G. Verdi, 1853; cf. page 210 of the vocal score (where you also find the librettist's original Italian words and English lyrics)
Verdi #2 see the 3rd tune in the recording referred to in the row with ID label "suite #1", below A Chromatic Toast

Let's play!
Let's play through many keys in a sway!
Let's pluck notes, flat and sharp,
on our well tuned 'harp
with joy today.
Let's play!
Let's play music so merry and gay!
Oh, the joy of the shifting tonic we have this way!
Delight flows so freely from the autoharp
with notes outside a narrow scale's border.
Chromatic buffs have nothing about to carp:
alien notes are really in order.
And we play,
playing music so merry and gay!
Oh, the joy of the shifting tonic we have this way!
Chromatic Toast
A provocative toast based on a slightly modified version of the tune of the drinking song "Libiamo ne' lieti calici" in the opening scene of the opera "La Traviata" by G. Verdi, 1853; cf. page 18 of the vocal score (where you also find the librettist's original Italian words and English lyrics)

[Ironically, just to show the exception to my rule that most of the accidentals in the occidental music of the past 400 years can be explained by recognising the tonicization, Verdi makes here use of accidentals in a way that I can't see how the tonic may be shifted. (But I still adore this composer!)]
Wagner #1 I got lost in the time while practising, and the tune got lost in the times:
Bridal Chorus, Confused a bit
(B*, 2010-03-24) (3:18 min / 1.6 MB)
* practised on my ZephyrHill 'harp

Or is 3/4 time actually better fitting, anyway?
See for yourself and hear here a newer, cleaner recording:

Bridal Chorus Waltz
(B*, 2011-06-24) (1:46 min / 0.9 MB)
* played on my ZephyrHill 'harp
The sheet gives the tune and the chords for playing in the key of C.

Both of the recordings use the chords given in my sheet and follow the melody notes: their pitch - but often not their length!
Brautchor aus R. Wagners "Lohengrin"
Bridal Chorus from opera "Lohengrin" by Richard Wagner
suite #1 A little Saturday morning practice
(A, 2007-05-19) (11 min / 5.2 MB)
If you have patience enough to listen to the whole MP3 file, you will hear "work in progress" versions of:
1. "Lueget vo Berge-n-und Tal"
2. the closing aria from G. Verdi's opera La Traviata
3. the opening aria from La Traviata
4. "Es steht eine Mühle im Schwarzwälder Tal"
5. "In einem kühlen Grunde"
6. "Es Burebüebli mah-n-i nit" (Swiss folk song)
7. "Bicycle built for two"
8. "Plaisir d'amour"
9. "Yield not to temptation"
All of these tunes are in 3/4 or 6/8 time. (While I began in a decent pace, I soon lost my patience, and in the end I shamefully yielded to temptation, succumbing defencelessly to the thrill of speed. As a result, it was nearly impossible to get out of the groove again. :>))
All the tunes are played in the key of G, except #6 which is played in the key of D.
More information can be found in an e-mail I sent the Cyberpluckers: Saturday morning practice
ad 2 cf. row with ID "Verdi #1", above
ad 3 cf. row with ID "Verdi #2", above
label music annotation sheet
label music annotation sheet
label music annotation sheet
play classical The Caissons Go Rolling Along
(B*, 2010-06-03) (2:00 min / 1 MB)
* played on my Lancer-like electric solid body OS-85C (from ca. 1980)

The 2nd time through, I switched on the 'harp's "chorus unit" (just because it is there!).
New words to an old tune:

The joy with a classical tune

If at least I am pleased
and the music flows like greased,
why not play a nice classical tune?!
May rotate in their grave
and of wild revenging rave
the composers - I surely don't swoon!
I say Hey, hey, hey!
There's no need to fight a fray:
To protest I am just immune!
Who can ever spoil
the pleasures that uncoil
when I play a nice classical tune!
Oh, the joy with a classical tune!
The joy with a classical tune
[But this is not exactly a classical tune.]