New music for Pentecost: Sweet Spirit Comfort Me

St Paul’s Cathedral had another composition competition. I only found out about it around ten days before the deadline but decided it was worth at least looking at the suggested texts and having a go at writing something.

The result? Three verses of Robert Herrick’s “Litany to the Holy Spirit”, set for SATB. It’s a bit mournful perhaps, but so is the text. Each verse is set differently, so adding further verses isn’t straightforward.

You can hear robots singing it here (MIDI file), and the sheet music is available here, both from the Choral Public Domain Library.

I’ve uploaded robot flutes playing to Soundcloud, too:

If you’d like a more cheerful setting, Dr Francis Roads has written one, available from his website under the title “In the hour of my distress”.


On acknowledgement

On Thursday I got an e-mail from someone. He was writing to tell me he’d found my piece Crux Fidelis on the Choral Public Domain Library a few months ago, and had used it in the liturgy for Good Friday at the church where he’s organist. It went well and they intend to use it again next year.

It felt really wonderful to be thanked, and even just to know that my music is being used. I know others have used that piece this year, but they’re all friends or acquaintances. Of course I’m glad they like it and use it, but in my head it feels like strangers liking my music enough to use it is another level. One of the difficulties of putting my work online is that I never really know whether it is getting used. Oh, SoundCloud has some stats for listens and downloads, but once a track has been downloaded I have no idea how often it’s played. CPDL doesn’t seem to offer any stats, but even if they did, there’s a long way between downloading a piece of music and having a choir sing it!

If there were such a thing, I’d be tempted to use a Creative Commons license where people can do what they like with my music as long as they tell me, somehow. As things currently stand I’m reliant on etiquette.

Perhaps, though, it’s just as well that such a license doesn’t exist. Having to let the creator know what’s happening might be enough to put people off using the work, after all, and if it comes to a choice between the music being heard and my hearing about it, I think I’d choose the former.