Monday, December 3, 2012

Peter's Christmas Mix

I used to make music mixes for my friends all the time, first with cassette tapes, then with CDs. One of my favorite was a Christmas mix tape. With Christmas music in the air, I thought I'd revisit the idea of a Christmas mix and give a few personal suggestions. It's mostly choral music, but choral music is itself a Christmas tradition—as in "Yuletide carols being sung by a choir." Christmas is when choral groups know they can get an audience.

Here's 10 songs I would put on my Christmas mix. Feel free to look them up at your leisure:

  • "O Magnum Mysterium" (Morten Lauridsen). Though almost everything Lauridsen writes sounds the same, this is the first (and best) one.
  • "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" (from the Grinch who Stole Christmas Soundtrack). "I wouldn't touch you with a 39.5-foot pole." 'Nuff said.
  • "Christmas at Sea" (Sting). From Sting's album If On A Winter's Night, it's one of the few songs on the album with original music, to words of Robert Louis Stevenson. It's Celtic meets Christmas in the best way.
  • "Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time" (Paul McCartney). I know it's cheesy, but it's hard for me not to be happy listening to this song.
  • "What Cheer?" (William Walton). Short, but so catchy and English.
  • "Gaudete" (traditional Dutch, arr. by the King's Singers). Latin, high energy carol from probably my favorite Christmas album, the King's Singers A Little Christmas Music.
  • "The Twelve Days of Christmas"  (The Muppets). I may have chosen this one simply because of nostalgia. And "Five golden rings."
  • "The Wexford Carol" (traditional English, arr. by the King's Singers). A beautiful, lesser-known carol, also from A Little Christmas Music (I allow myself two songs from the same source per mix, but that's it.).
  • "Jesus Christ the Apple Tree" (Elizabeth Poston). A somewhat strange, beautiful choral piece. Try blasting it in your car stereo.
  • "Chiron Beta Prime" (Jonathan Coulton). A Christmas card sent from a family in a work camp run by robots on an asteroid. By the way, Jonathan Coulton has a new Christmas album out, which you can check out here. Though I cannot endorse it, as I have not listened to it yet. Also, it doesn't have "Chiron Beta Prime" on it.
I also have a new favorite Christmas song this season, sure to be a hit. With music theory nerds, anyway (kudos to my sister-in-law for forwarding this to me):

Are music mixes going out of fashion, or do you enjoy making them? What would you include on your Christmas music mix?

Vocab: choral


  1. I just found your blog! I'm digging Ella Fitzgerald's Jingle Bells right now :) You should also check out Bela Fleck and the Flecktones' version of the 12 days of Christmas. It's a clever musical joke :)

    1. I love this Flecktones' piece! Thanks for pointing it out to me. It's like a music theory lesson AND a Christmas song. One of these days, I'll write a post about the wonderful anomaly of the Flecktones.