I'm working on a musical Advent Calendar with my wife. Each day there will be a new song, a link to a Youtube video, until December 24th. You don't need a Facebook account to view it. The following link should work:

Joululaulukalenteri

All songs are in Finnish. I might later upload the Finnish lyrics for everyone to translate (Google does a pretty good job on that). The first song was published last Sunday, since we included the 4 Sundays of Advent in the calendar. You are free to share the link. You are free to share the direct Youtube links, too, even though I've not made the Youtube videos public. I can promise a great variety of styles. Small jazz combos, big band, vocal + piano, maybe vocal + guitar, kantele.

Here's the 1st of Advent:

And here's the 1st of December:

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Comment by Johan Halmén on December 13, 2015 at 4:10am

December 9th

I open a chocolate box. I pick my favourite.

Sometimes one's favourite causes another one's dislike.
But for everyone, there is one special.

Would it be completely silly to say
that a chocolate box is like life?

It amuses me that people have thought this is just borrowed from Forrest Gump. Even I thought so, when my wife gave me the lyrics. But think again! And find the difference!

December 10th

A re-used song from last year about the wonderful scents of Christmas.

December 11th

What could I give to you for Christmas?
What could I wish for myself for Christmas?
A hug is warm and doesn't cost.
Give a helping hand for someone
too weak to cope on one's own.

Friendship, company
and a shared moment with a book
seeing a movie together, or a trip somewhere

Cleaning the windows, preparing a meal
raking the garden or giving a lift by car.

The music may have become more dramatic than the lyrics. Or then it just happened, as if there's a deeper thought in the lyrics that really needs to be knocked into our minds.

December 12th

A re-used song about the stillness of Christmas, when all rush is behind.

December 13th

Saint Lucy's Day. I hope I can share the thought behind this song in this light translation. I might fail, if I try to explain it more analytically.

She works as the cashier in a grocery store.
An old man has barely money for a piece of sausage.
She adds some money of her own.

She takes care of other people's children.
A little girl, holes in her stockings.
She mends the stockings during her coffee break.

Let the brightness shine on her road,
let lots of angels walk in front of her.
Give her strength and happines
wherever she walks.

She sits at the bead
as a friend, as company.
An old woman, weak,
alone, with no one left.
She is there every evening at her side.

Let the brightness shine on her road,
let lots of angels walk in front of her.
Give her strength and happines
wherever she walks.

Comment by Harmonia on December 7, 2015 at 9:36am

Oh Johan, thank you so much for taking the time to tell us about your delightful Advent calendar!  I followed it every day last year, and now I'm thrilled to be hearing both old and new songs.  I especially loved the bear sleeping under the spruce trees - and what magnificent trees they are, as you said!   You should list in the credits who did the wonderful snoring!!  What a great gift your family gives to all of us for Advent.  I intend to share your songs with all my composition students.  Happy day after Saint Nicholas Day, and thanks for letting us know that our dear Santa lives in Finland!

Comment by Johan Halmén on December 7, 2015 at 8:25am

If I have time, I could try linking the reused titles to last year's dates, if you want to read about them. Though I didn't explain all songs last year, either.

Comment by Johan Halmén on December 7, 2015 at 8:22am

Our Musical Advent Calendar A.D. 2015

This is an update of last year's calendar. We're planning to have 12 new songs while 12 songs will be reused from last year. All songs will have renewed images and lyrics video, due to new dates. But that's not important. The music is.

I shall do my best trying to explain shortly the music ideas as well as the Finnish lyrics.

December 1thChristmas is warmth and peace.
Christmas is rush, jingeling bells.

Christmas is feeling, the light from candles,
Christmas is dinner with family, gingerbread houses.

Christmas is.

It was nice to start with a brand new song. A simple tune that almost wrote itself, due to thefine lyrics.

December 2ndA reused tune from last year. My son did the orchestration and mixing. He had some probelms with the time. Or he hadn't. My wife and I had. First we recorded the vocal and the guitar and we had no click track whatsoever, so it became very rubato. My son added other instruments, which didn't fit very well on all the agogic freedom we did with the vocals and the guitar in the first place.

December 3rd & 4thChristmas in the woods. Animals decorating the Christmas tree and waiting for the snow.

The bear sleeps under the spruce tree. Celebrating his Christmas.

We had so much fun having our dear friend Ildefonso, a music teacher, tubist and a wind orchestra conductor from Valencia, helping out with the bass line. Especially in the 2nd song, where the bear is in focus. You can hear some noise from the valves of the tuba. I teach at a primary school and they have thous magnificent giant spruce trees in the backyard. I took the start image from there. I showed the video to my pupils. I had to assure them that there's no bear under that tree. We do have bears in the forests around us, but they are very shy.

December 5thA reused song from last year.

December 6th

Our Independence Day. A new song for this special day. According to a Finnish tradition, Santa lives in Finland. And if you want proof, note that 6th of December is Saint Nicholas's Day.

Our home, our country,
Our home country, our father's land.
Our language, our country,
Our Mother Tongue, with which we write our songs.

Even if the grey autumn feels hard
and the sun doesn't shine
and you can't leave your woolen stocking
this still is a good place

Even if you're loning to places far away
and feel that they are better places,
still, each time you return home
you find it the best place on Earth.

Our home, our country...

December 7th & 8th

Reused songs from last year.

Comment by ChinaBlues on December 26, 2014 at 8:26am

hi Johan : Your musical Advent Calendar has been such a nice holiday gift for all of us.  The pics and music are wonderful, and have brightened the season for myself, and many friends here in Asia.  Thanks so much for sharing your unique and authentic art, which exemplifies the spirit of our VirtualArtists community :)

Comment by Johan Halmén on December 24, 2014 at 4:55pm

Yes, Julie, all the pictures are from our own lives. The little boy decorating the Christmas tree and making ginger bread is my son, now 21 years old, studying theater. The Christmas tree is our own, the teddy bear is my wife's. About 50years old. The image is a setup for the song, made to look like things in a second hand shop. The coffee grinder is my wife's grandmother's, the brass candle holder is my grandmother's.

The "snowfall" you see in each video is made with some software I wrote years ago. Mostly the snowflakes have no connection at all to the songs. They are just there for decoration.

Thus project is mainly done now. No more songs to come. But  we might develop some of the miniature songs to something bigger. Especially the jazzy ones might end up in a Christmas concert next year with our local big band.

Thanks to everyone for shown interest. And thank you, Julie, for your kind words. They meant a lot to my wife, too.

Merry Christmas and God's blessing to everyone.

Comment by Johan Halmén on December 24, 2014 at 4:33pm

December 23rd

Yet another old song, some 25years ago. We made a song of it that time, but I never liked it, neither the lyrics nor the music I wrote for it. So my wife rewrote the lyrics, giving them a better structure and I reused stuff from the original composition. Now I'm very satisfied with it.

December 24th

This is traditionally the last number in a Finnish Advent calendar. And it's supposed to be a bit special. Well, this song has a special history. I've written the music some ten years ago and I had an idea for the lyrics, too. And even some lines in English. I dug it up for this project and my wife wrote the Finnish lyrics, more or less according to my original idea. In an early stage we decided that this song be the Christmas Eve song, worth some more effort. So I wrote a full big band arrangement for it, played all saxes and the piano for it. The rest of the instruments are rendered with MuseScore 2.0 and Logic. I would have played a guitar, too, but I ran out of time, which is why some timing issues are still present.

The lyrics tell about a little reindeer, Reino, Rudolph's nephew, who is longing to some day join the reindeer and take Santa all over the world and see the Christmas lights in cities far away, and see the happy faces of all children.

Comment by Harmonia on December 24, 2014 at 9:16am

Johann, I was saving your most recent pieces as a special treat for Christmas Eve morning, to listen to as I wrapped presents.  I'm really in awe at the gift you and your family have given to the world by writing all these songs and by posting them as an Advent Calendar.  This project must be so special to each person in your family and to all of us as well.  I love hearing about your writing the words to your wife's lyrics 25 years ago - that song truly is special.  I'm especially taken by the one you just wrote - the one with hints of whole tones and the impression of silence and stillness.  Those two words convey so much of the wonder of this time of year, and you've captured the essence of the words perfectly.   Thank you again for this project - we are all honored to be sharing it with you.  By the way, are the pictures from your own family album?  Are we glimpsing your very own Christmas tree, and a teddy bear in one of your windows?   

Comment by Johan Halmén on December 22, 2014 at 2:41am

December 18th

Lyrics are about how one thinks about not getting a Christmas tree because of all the fuss and the needles you still find next summer in corners and under the sofa. And yet, next Christmas you find yourself decorating the tree again.

December 19th

A small story about a teddy bear lying in the window of a second hand shop. And a girl walking by every day. Will they get each other for Christmas?

December 20th

Julie, this is the song I thought I shared long time ago and not the Advent song. Anyway, my wife wrote the lyrics as a school girl, in the age of 11. It must been over 25 years since I got the lyrics from her. But I remember it clearly. I went straight to the piano and more or less improvised the melody and the harmony. One of the moments, when songs write themselves. I could name other similar songs from this calendar, but this was special. The flute obligato came later, though.

Lyrics are about white snow covering everything, people finish job for Christmas, Christmas Peace.

December 22nd

This is 25 year old lyrics. Only a few line from my wife's poem diary. It has been waiting to be composed until last week. Since the lyrics are only a short impression of the silence and stillness of Christmas Eve, the composition dictated itself to be a Debussy-ish thing.

Comment by Harmonia on December 18, 2014 at 8:51am

Johan, these descriptions are so helpful when listening to the pieces!  I especially like the lyrics about turning off the lights and lighting a candle to hide the dust!  What a good idea.  ;-)   Your entire family is incredibly talented - how wonderful it must be to work together on this magnificent project.  I love Anja's composition and the orchestration for the 17th.  It is very lovely.   Thank you so much for sharing these treasures with all of us.

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