Archives for 21 Dec,2019

You are browsing the site archives by date.

When everyone thinks of Christmas, there is a song that always starts in their heads, a song that has been adapted worldwide and has become part of the Christmas spirit, this is “Jingle Bells”.

It’s interesting to think that this composition has been able to stay alive for so many years, every year it comes as if it’s tradition in the whole world to sing or listen to this song, but as many stories, few people know the story of this important piece of music, and what better opportunity to learn about its origin than a few days before Christmas.

James L. Pierpont

Christmas

Pierpont, the composer, was born in 1822, and his composition was released in 1857, however it wasn’t called “Jingle Bells” it was “One Horse Open Sleigh” but it was later changed to it’s current name due to it being a bit more family friendly.

Pierpont was a man of the Confederacy, at the time the civil war was very much alive in America. While his father and brother were fiercely against slavery, Pierpont became a supporter of the Confederacy.

When his brother was forced to close his church and return to the North in 1859 due to his abolitionist preaching, Pierpont remained in Savannah. When war broke out, he enlisted with the 1st Georgia Cavalry and served as a company clerk. His father, meanwhile, served on the Union side as chaplain of the 22nd Massachusetts Infantry. During the Civil War, Pierpont wrote Confederate anthems including “Strike for the South,” “We Conquer, or Die!” and “Our Battle Flag!” The songwriter remained in Georgia after the war and lived out his final years in Florida before his death in 1893

History.com

This song was also not supposed to be a Christmas song, in fact, the lyrics never mention the word “Christmas”. It was originally intended as a song for Thanksgiving but it made it’s way into Christmas when it was included in the first Christmas record in 1889.

Lyrics (A Christmas Song?)

[Verse 1]
Dashing through the snow
In a one-horse open sleigh
O’er the fields we go
Laughing all the way
Bells on bobtails ring
Making spirits bright
What fun it is to ride and sing
A sleighing song tonight

[Chorus]
Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh, hey
Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh

[Verse 2]
A day or two ago
I thought I’d take a ride
And soon, Miss Fanny Bright
Was seated by my side
The horse was lean and lank
Misfortune seemed his lot
He got into a drifted bank
And then we got upsot

[Chorus]
Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh, hey
Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh

[Verse 3]
A day or two ago
The story I must tell
I went out on the snow
And on my back I fell
A gent was riding by
In a one-horse open sleigh
He laughed as there I sprawling lie
But quickly drove away

[Chorus]
Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh, hey
Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh

[Verse 4]
Now the ground is white
Go it while you’re young
Take the girls tonight
And sing this sleighing song
Just get a bobtailed bay
Two forty as his speed
Hitch him to an open sleigh
And crack, you’ll take the lead

[Chorus]
Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh, hey
Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh

Jingle Bells Throughout The Years

While Piermont dedicated most of his life to the church and his family, his efforts as a musician have brought joy to people around the world during Christmas holidays, even though its melody changed a little bit from the original, and many versions have been made by many artists, the core of the song is still the same.

Original

Modern (Sinatra)

Bobby Helms

Many more versions exists out there, and even though the original intention was not to invoke the Christmas spirit, today, no song is more popular for this time of year than “Jingle Bells”.

Read More

It is known that music has the power to send different messages and express many human emotions but it’s uncommon to really go deep into which emotions, how and why these emotions are carried by the sounds of music, in this case it’s interesting to think about one of the strongest feelings of people, hope.

The Line

If we think of music as a line, there are various tipes of lines, if you think of a straight line, it’s a music with very few or slight crescendos, and it tends to keep the same pace, this usually conveys more sadness, melancholy or it can be a minimalistic approach. However if you think of a line that goes up and down throughout the coposition, it means there are moments in which sounds express strong emotions, there is the climb where you feel tension, there is a release at the top and then it relaxes. Usually hope can be found on it’s way up of this line.

This climb can be anxious, exciting or just a fast explosion to get to a higher state. If a song is to convey hope, the climb has to show it’s going to a good place, to an explosion of sounds that will move your body and soul, but how is this achieved?

The Climb (Towards a feeling of hope)

For example in classical music there is “The Marriage of Figaro” from Mozart which is one his most loved and known compositions. This piece of music starts on a climb and then shines a little, it keeps climbing, it explodes and then relaxes, just to continue climbing, there is no negative tension, the only tension is waiting for that great thing that is about to happen.

The Rock band Queen was able to do this climb in an incredible way, with songs such as “Somebody to love”. This song is on an endless climb the same way as “The Marriage of Figaro”.

The rock band Muse is also able to make compositions that allow this feeling to naturally appear in the person who listens.

“Here I go again” is another great example, which follows the line of ballads that work between melancholy and hope, but the climb is still present.

The reason why there are many examples in rock about hopeful music is because rock has very intense highs, and this is not something you can find for example in jazz or hip hop.

Science of Hope

Despite music having such a strong impact on people, music doesn’t affect everyone the same way, in other words, if a person who is not hopeful at all in life, he or she may not receive the same impact of music than a slightly hopeful person.

Within the field of positive psychology, hope has been shown to be related to individuals’ ways of coping with success and failure. The present study examined the effect of music and dispositional hope on state hope, after experiencing failure. Sixty participants filled out a dispositional hope questionnaire, and completed a computer task for which they received false failure feedback. Thirty participants listened to positive music following the task, while 30 participants did not receive the music stimulus.

The effect of positive music and dispositional hope on state hope and affect.
Naomi Ziv, Anat Ben Chaim, Oren Itamar

But science isn’t everything, even more so in art.

A Sense of Breakthrough

There is a sense of action and passion in these compositions that convey hope, it’s as if it inspired the will to act despite the odds, and this is a very powerful feeling since many things in life are about failing and trying again, or how they say, falling and getting back up. This is very true and hopeful music helps with this “getting up” part in a way that it’s hard to explain, but it just gets under your skin.

Hope

Of course hope, in this case, came from a hopeful musician, but not everyone is hopeful all the time, that’s why art it’s so important for people, it leaves a trace, it allows for that hope to be timeless and in some cases touch many people, so even if people are not hopeful all the time, we know that there is music out there that exist as proof that there is hope.

      

Read More