Carol Descants!!!!

I have searched for some time now to find a printed book of descants for Xmas carols.

However to no avail, although we all hear the usual ones played frequently.

Unfortunately, the people I hear playing them have them securely locked in their brain and are unable to reproduce them on paper! Selfish sods!!

So therefore I am asking you the banding fraternity for assistance!

Even if I only get the more popular carol's, it will still take some of the boredom out of standing in the supermarket foye.

Many thanks!
 
Thanks Roger, but after following that link it seems that the subject matter discussed is more to do with fanfares for the carol's and not the descants that I refer to. Or am I being thick!!

Well impressed with the speed of your assistance tho, great site hey!!
 

PeterBale

Moderator
Staff member
Many of the most familiar descants to carols originated from the Carols for Choirs arrangements, initially under the auspices of David Willcocks, some of which also include fanfares etc. The harmonisation for the descant verses often differs considerably from the normal versions, and I've been gritting my teeth on several occasions when we've been accompanying singing, using the standard carol books, and choirs and/or congregation proceed to add a descant that does not quite fit :oops:
 

Dave Payn

Active Member
The fanfares are printed with the descants for Ray Steadman-Allen's transcription of the David Willcocks Carols for Choirs series and are published by Rosehill Music Ltd.

When you say people were playing them 'in their brain' it makes me wonder as bits of the Willcocks 'O Come All Ye Faithful' descant don't fit the normal harmony for that carol!
 
Thanks Peter!

I have also been in the chior / band situation and thought "my god what the hell are they doing!"

The two main descants that generally get played are "Hark the Herald", and "O 'come", usually by the cornet, which fit and generally sound ok.

They generally come into my head on Xmas day whilst out playing, although the generous amounts of whisky do help to entire into my subconcious brain!
 
Right ok, just browsed the Rosehill site, and the "Carols for Chiors" is listed, however it seems that they are sold as individual carols, is this correct?

Bit of an expensive way of obtaining a selection if this is the case!
 

Dave Payn

Active Member
Martin Hall said:
Right ok, just browsed the Rosehill site, and the "Carols for Chiors" is listed, however it seems that they are sold as individual carols, is this correct?

Bit of an expensive way of obtaining a selection if this is the case!
I believe this is the case. I don't think they exist as a 'set'.
 

Owen

Member
I would say that they are well worth the money even though they may seem a bit pricey. Many of the non-traditional carols are great concert items too - Shepherds Pipe Carol etc which you can either do with a choir or without.
 
When you say people were playing them 'in their brain' it makes me wonder as bits of the Willcocks 'O Come All Ye Faithful' descant don't fit the normal harmony for that carol!
This is why you have to be careful when playing descants! The harmony alters for the last verse (when the descant is normally heard), and for good reason! The alternative last verse harmonies are more chromatic, more powerful, and make a brilliant finish to carols. Using Hark the Herald or o come all ye faithful as an example- the altered harmony which accompanies the descant has a great effect- bands should play the altered harmony as well as the descant!

An easy way to get hold of both is to transcribe them from any choir/organ hymn or carol book. Personally i have most of the descants and harmonies firmly planted in my head- having played the organ and taught them to a church choir, as well as singing the descants at school every year for 11 years! I'd be happy to write out any that i know, maybe i should publish them! lol. :)
 

Dave Payn

Active Member
shedophone said:
When you say people were playing them 'in their brain' it makes me wonder as bits of the Willcocks 'O Come All Ye Faithful' descant don't fit the normal harmony for that carol!
This is why you have to be careful when playing descants! The harmony alters for the last verse (when the descant is normally heard), and for good reason! The alternative last verse harmonies are more chromatic, more powerful, and make a brilliant finish to carols. Using Hark the Herald or o come all ye faithful as an example- the altered harmony which accompanies the descant has a great effect- bands should play the altered harmony as well as the descant!

An easy way to get hold of both is to transcribe them from any choir/organ hymn or carol book. Personally i have most of the descants and harmonies firmly planted in my head- having played the organ and taught them to a church choir, as well as singing the descants at school every year for 11 years! I'd be happy to write out any that i know, maybe i should publish them! lol. :)
I assure you I'm not being 'Copyright police' but there are music publishers who log on to this site and I don't wsih anyone to fall foul. If you wish to do that with the Willcocks descants, you should really get in touch with Oxford University Press for permission.
 
I wrote out the Descant for O Come all Ye Faithful - Sing Choirs of Angels verse for my junior music group at church to play on their recorders.
I think it is right, it's how I remember it from singing in a church choir as a teenager anyway.
I have it as a Capella file or can output is as Midi if anyone wants it
 
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