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I Am Dissatisfied with My Purchase
Last year, I bought The Peanuts Christmas Carol Collection, on grounds that it had a lot of songs I like, no songs I detest, a few songs I hadn't heard of, and looked like a set of nice easy arrangements suitable for having people sing along with. I hadn't actually gone through it until the last few days, when I started going through it from the beginning to see which songs I want to work up so that, when relatives are visiting this Christmas, I can play and they can sing along.

It turns out that it ought to be titled Christmas Carols: The Gloomy Versions. They've made some very strange choices in the arrangements. Some of these can perhaps be put down to over-simplification: Coventry Carol, for instance, is in the key of C, which is Just Wrong. Some may be attributed to a Puritan spirit of solemnity and having no fun at all, or perhaps to simple ignorance of the songs in question: Go Tell It On The Mountain is made slow and melancholy by the simple expedient of writing every fourth measure to a completely wrong tune. Some are just inexplicable: God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen traditionally ends the chorus ("tidings of comfort and joy") on an E. The arranger of the Peanuts Collection decided that one good strong note in both hands (as my old free arrangement has it) was too simple, and added a chord. This is all well and good. However, the chosen chord is E minor. E minor is not comfort and joy! E minor is afflictions and doom! E minor is sins and tribulations! E minor does not belong in my Christmas carols!

I didn't make it past God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. I switched to my other new book of carols, which seems much better so far. They're arranged as solos, so there aren't any printed words, they're substantially more difficult arrangements, they have lots of decorative flourishes, and they'll be harder to sing along with, but they sound good and they're not blatantly wrong. (Well, Coventry Carol's a bit cheerier than is really called for, but in a pretty way. I have not thoroughly investigated the rest of the selection; see also, substantially more difficult arrangements.)

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To the best of my knowledge, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen is written in E minor. There's the traditional section at the third stanza where it modulates to a major chord, but the majority of the song is in fact in a minor, at least in all of the simpler arrangements I've seen.

That's really weird about the Coventry Carol, though, it's also a minor key song (this is the lullabye one, yes?) that modulates to a major in the final chord. So it can't be in the key of C, unless it's in C minor, which isn't really simplifying anything, that's three flats. If it's in the natural key of C, no accidentals at all, then it's probably actually in the relative minor, A. I'm used to seeing the simple arrangements in E minor, though, it fits the range it's usually sun in better.

I got nothing on Go Tell It On The Mountain. =)

What instrument is this for?

Oh, the song's in E minor and I am fine with that. But the full chord there sounds so much worse than just plain E.

I am used to seeing Coventry in, er, what's the one with two flats?

These are all for piano.

Yeah, the final E minor chord really does bring it all home that the song is in a minor, especially after the repeated "comfort and joy" being on a major.

Two flats is B-flat major, which relative minor is...G. funky. I don't know as I've ever seen that arrangement.

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I have an Oxford Book of Carols! I also have a fair number of quite pleasant, simple, free arrangements, so I'm not really lacking for carols. But I was hoping the Peanuts book would be a nice all-in-one-place set.

Thank you, though. I will have to go through and see if there's anything I particularly like that I'm missing. :)

Down with E minor!

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