Christmas music for contralto and harp?

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    I’m working with a singer to put together a holiday program. She prefers to sing in keys lower than standard Christmas carol/song arrangements. Does anyone have suggestions of sheet music I could get? The thought of transposing everything as well as arranging the tunes to have a jazzy feel similar to Ray Pool’s solo versions is starting to feel like a daunting task. Thanks for your suggestions!

    Tony G

    As a baritone, I know just how she feels… but also how you feel, because (in my opinion) the burden of transposition should fall upon the person responsible for needing the transposition…. i.e. if she wants to sing a carol in a lower key, she needs to take care of it.

    When I sing a solo in church, or otherwise, and it requires transposition I do it myself in Finale. Typically I enter the music in, use the program’s transposition tool, and then go through and make sure it didn’t create any weird double sharps or triple flats. :p It can be time consuming, but if you really need something in a lower key, it’s worth it.

    When I’m playing piano and my sister is playing guitar, and we decide to do a piece in another key, I run through visually and (if there are chord symbols) I pencil in the new chord… and rather than try to sight-transpose, I just play the chord outlines and add in embellishments similar to the original arrangement. Since we primarily play folk music, I can get away with that…. not like trying to sigh transpose a Bach sonatina or something. :p

    Tony G

    Cut myself off…

    Another great resource is musicnotes, where you can transpose the piece before purchasing it. That could end up being very costly, though…. so you need to decide whether it’s in your best interest to drop $50 on sheet music, or get the free version from a library music book and put it in Finale by hand.

    Personally I tend to choose Finale… because sometimes as I work on a song, I find that I would actually prefer it in a higher or lower key than what I originally thought. If you bought it in that key you’re stuck, but if you have it in Finale it just takes a second to change the key. 🙂

    You could also split the work between you. A friend and I recently did that for a duet with a very complex arrangement. I did the first five pages and she did the last five. 🙂

    Some compilations (such as this one: are specifically in low keys and might be of interest to you. More often you find those for arias and oratorios, but some of them do exist for theme/seasonal music.

    Try going to your local store and asking what they have for singers in the “low” key. If they don’t have it in “Alto/Contralto” (same voice type) keys, ask for it in the “Bass” key. Your friend will have to sing in the bass clef, but it’s easier for her to memorize the melodies (if she doesn’t already know them) and you can just play off of the accompaniment.

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