About Hilton Kean Jones

Composer and performer, retired college music professor, lyricist.

Songs from Southern Harmony, and Musical Companion (in progress)

The hyman book called Southern Harmony, and Music Companion was compiled by William Walker in 1835. It uses a form of musical notation called shaped note, which my father, born and raised in rural southern Mississippi, learned as a child. I think these songs are some of the best hymn tunes ever written, on a parallel with the great hymn tunes of Europe and the UK. Much simpler, for sure, but incredibly indelible. They demand to be sung. They roll around the mind for hours.

I’m working on a digital album of 15 to 20 of these songs. Here’s the first 6 I’ve done so far:

The Old 100th

This week’s Lenten focus is on the German composer and saintly figure, Hildegard of Bingen, so all the music this week is German. A contemporary of the famous J.S. Bach and his cousin, is Johann Gottfried Walther, best known for his many chorale preludes on hymn tunes, of which this is a great example, the tune appearing in the manuals and in the pedals (as you can see performed by Peter Lorre’s “The Hand” video insert).

Vivo from Präambeln und Interludien (1954) by Hermann Schroeder (1904-1984)

This week’s Lenten saintly figure is Hildegard of Bingen, a German composer (1098-1179). In her honor, all works this week are German. We don’t hear much about Hermann Schroeder over here but we should. He was a prolific and influential teacher and composer in Germany. He was especially important in bringing German Catholic church music out of heavy (dare I say, bad…not to be confused with the excellent, authentic) Romanticism (upper-case “R”) into interesting yet accessible 20th Century music. I suspect the reason the world of classical music has ignored him is that he’s part of a genre of music composition termed, “Neoclassical.” Neoclassical composers are shunned because the style in mid-20th Century music that was fashionable with those who controlled the purse strings and awards of the contemporary classical music scene were committed to dodecaphonic serialism. (My own theory as to why this was true was that that kind of music was easy to write articles about and since the primary proponents of that music were college professors it was a good fit.) Only problem was performing musicians themselves and audiences (especially) didn’t enjoy it. Fortunately, a number of composers in the 60s who came out of a genre of contemporary music of the extreme avant garde and who were proponents of the compositional ideas of John Cage revolted against the academic establishment and their style evolved into what eventually become known as minimalism. Its most stunning quality was that it was fun to play, tonal, and a pleasure to listen to! (Shocking at that time.) Surprisingly, a similar revolt was happening in eastern Europe: dramatic, very expressive music known as the “Polish School.” Those two revolts have continued to evolve and merge and together are now just known as “music.” It’s my fervent hope that this stylistic freedom will encourage a positive reassessment of neoclassicism. Maybe Schroeder and others will finally have their day.

Music in March 14, 2021 in-person service

GATHERING MUSIC: Basse et Dessus de Trompette — Clérambault

PRELUDE: Feuilles Volantes #1  – Duparc

MUSIC 1: Il Pleut Bergère — French folk song

MUSIC 2: je ne cuit pas — Machaut (1300-1377)

OFFERTORY:  May We See Your Radiant Face — HKJ (USF Chamber Singers, Dr. John Richmond, dir., recorded in 1980s)

PREPARATION FOR PRAYER: Je T’appartiens — Bécaud

POSTLUDE: Prière des Orgues (from “Mass for the Poor” )Satie