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 January 1, 2017 at 5:32pm

Happy new year to everyone!

Only two new songs this Christmas. But I learned a lot of new nice things and maybe one not so nice a thing. One great thing was how to create a song album using MuseScore (or actually any sheet music editor that can produce pdf files of single scores). It's a tool for another great piece of free software, LibreOffice. I open a file called Libre Office Song album Architect. Then I just read in all pdf files I want to add to my album. The file creates a final pdf file containing a cover page, a clickable table-of-contents and all my songs that I added.

A less nice thing was to learn that my 53 year old ears are no good for sound editing. My son did the mixing of the last song and my wife and I were a little disapointed in how he let the lead vocal blend in with the choir, making it hard for us to hear all lyrics. But my son said he thought it was perfect and he could hear everything just great. My other son confirmed that! We ran out of time and I accepted the mix as it was, but I'm going to change that in the future. I already did a mix of my own. But I'm most sure it all has to do with how old ears are listening to the music. I really don't hear everything so clear anymore. I might let you listen to two mixes of the same song and ask you to tell the difference. Even though the lyrics are in Finnish, I guess you can tell if the lead vocal is too low.

I'll be back with the samples.

Comment by Johan Halmén on December 23, 2016 at 6:07am
Dear Julie, you should be quite capable of viewing our facebook calendar without an account! Just follow my link and just don't let the messages about signing up fool you. Today's song is the only new one so far, written by my wife. My son plays a violin solo. The text is about making a cake.
Comment by Harmonia on December 22, 2016 at 8:11pm

Hello Johan, and a wonderful Christmas season to you!  I was so glad to see that you and your family have continued the musical Advent tradition we've all enjoyed for several years.  Sadly, I couldn't access the music this year since I don't have a Facebook account, but I hope many people heard your wonderful music and shared the fun and joy of your pictures and words! 

Merry Christmas!

Comment by Johan Halmén on December 6, 2016 at 4:48pm

Since our previous musical Advent Calendars seemed to find a small audience here, I thought I'd mention what we did for this Christmas. We thought of publishing all songs on the net with a kind of free-to-print-your-pdf-copy license. Of course, since all lyrics are in Finnish, not many of you will find it interesting. But you are free to write English lyrics for the songs.

All songs are old songs (included in the -14 and -15 calendars). Though we haven't decided for the whole list yet. Number 24 might be a suprise, a new song, which is completely unwritten so far.

I believe strongly that pdf publications will be more and more common in the future. Personally I have difficulties dealing with printed music. I might have printed music for our wind orchestra, but very often I have to rewrite something like an F corno part for an Eb alto or Bb clarinet for Eb saxophone. Or bass clef euphonium to treble clef. And it's a pain, unless I have all material as pdf, which opens quite nicely in MuseScore. New music lives. You can't write it and print it and assume the printed and published sheet music is always performed as printed. Someone might still want to make money out of static printed or pdf sheet music, but I guess the money should be more in performing and recording rights and royalties.

Here's a link to the facebook page with all the songs this year.

Each video ends with a bit.ly address to the pdf sheet music. The scrolling sheets are made by exporting graphics from MuseScore into Videopad video editor. Too bad I hadn't figured out how to make sharp images of the sheet music in the beginning. The first videos have pretty bad quality. Check the last ones instead.

Comment by Harmonia on December 26, 2015 at 7:22pm

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful!  The happiest of Christmas days to you and your family, Johan, and thank you again for the wonderful gifts of Advent.

Comment by Johan Halmén on December 26, 2015 at 4:19pm

December 21st

A re-used song about Reino (Reinold), Rudolphs nephew, who wishes to once take part in the Christmas Eve trip around the world.

December 22nd

A re-used song, an old one. The text is from the 70's when my wife was 11 years old. The melody is from the 80's. In my opinion a very realistic church organ sound, though created with my computer software.

December 23rd

A new song. This was supposed to be just a silly simple jingle, but it turned out to be a bit bigger. I borrowed some saxes and played the whole sax section, which is always fun to do. I would have played the piano, too, but I ran out of time. So I just left a piano track, which I had written in my sheet music editor. My son, who did the mixing, wished there had been a guitar track, but I had no time for that either. In the whole calendar, there are several tunes with instrumental backgrounds created with MuseScore, standard installation.

December 24th

I had a big band tune ready for this day, a bit similar to the 21st and 23rd, but it turned out we wanted to do something with a choir. I showed an old hymn melody to my wife and she wanted to write lyrics for that instead. And we had a lot of joy singing choral music earlier in the calendar. I might have written the 9/8 dance tune at the same time as the choral, can't remember, but they share some similarities. So I decided to put them together for this song, that was to be the last song in this year's calendar. The lyrics go something like:

Christmas peace comes to the mind of man .
The
message of Angels' choir becomes clear.
Fear not, now you have again been given
a chance of a new beginning.
What has passed, let it go, have mercy on yourself,
then you will feel the joy of Christmas.

Comment by Johan Halmén on December 20, 2015 at 6:39pm

December 16th

December 17th

Two re-used songs. Well more like two verses of same song. The first one is about making Finnish Christmas pastries, the second one about making gingerbread. My clarinet is almost 50 years old, my tenor sax almost 40 years old. They really need a service. There's a terrible noise coming from the keys. But I love them.

December 18th

A re-used song about making a decision of whether to have a Christmas tree or not. And picking spruce needles from the floor next summer.

December 19th

Finally a new song. According to the tradition, Father Christmas lives together with Mother Christmas. He may have been a bishop living in Myra, Turkey, in the 4th century, but nowadays he shares a happy life with his wife in Northern Finland. The story in this song is about how his wife is making rice porridge, a very traditional Finnish Christmas meal. And Santa just can't keep his hands off the pot. Mother Christmas smashes his fingers with the pot spoon and accidentally hits the radio, causing the channel to switch. A tango starts playing and Father and Mother Christmas start dancing.

You hear my lovely pump organ in the first part, the dance rhythm of which is a typical Finnish jenkka, though a bit slow, partially because there's so much lyrics that has to be sung, and partially because the terribly slow attack in a pump organ. An accordeon would have been better.

December 20th

A re-used song, an old one, from the 80's.

Comment by Harmonia on December 15, 2015 at 12:51pm

All I can say is that your students must have the most wonderful time in your classes, Johan!  Your sense of humor, fun and profound wisdom is a winning combination.  You get my vote for teacher of the year.  I LOVED the translation of the Forrest Gump reference - I mean the reference itself was clever enough, but your way of "telling it" was priceless.

As one who knows her chocolate box inside and out, I laughed out loud at the "translation".  Well said.

Thank you again for your superb Advent Calendar - and thanks to your dear wife and Otto as well.  Hope your Christmas is delightful!

Comment by Johan Halmén on December 15, 2015 at 8:42am

My wife commented on my translation to the S:t Lucy song. The last verse was not about an old woman, but about a sick woman of any age.

Just in case someone wonders about the Forrest Gump reference, here's a Rot13-encrypted explanation:

Sbeerfg Thzc fnlf gung yvsr vf yvxr n obk bs pubpbyngr, lbh arire xabj jung lbh trg. Guvf fbat fnlf gung n obk bs pubpbyngr vf yvxr yvsr, gurer vf bar fcrpvny (cenyvar be fjrrgurneg) sbe rirelbar. Guvf vzcyvrf gung lbh xabj lbhe pubpbyngr obk.

Copy and paste it to the page linked. Then something about the next two songs:

December 14th

A re-used song about cleaning and dusting or if you prefer it, put out the electric lights instead, light some candles instead and you won't see the dust!

December 15th

This song has a long history. The original music can be heard in this link. It's a midi file that I included in a computer game I wrote some 10 years ago. The name of the game was "Santa Claus Goes Arizona". The glockenspiel melody turned up, when my wife and I searched for old material to use in the calendar. My wife's idea was to write another song on top on this melody. Or below it. Everything goes below a glockenspiel, right? The original game was about Santa flying in his hot air balloon, fighting evil flying cacti. The imagery in the video is from the original game.

According to my wife, this is an updated version of John Lennon's great song Happy Christmas, War is Over. We tried to catch the same pacifistic Christmas mood. The lyrics:

The white beard is fluttering.
A mild breeze.
A yellow balloon shines with the sun.
There's a long time to Christmas.
Santa's enjoying.
In July the familiar scenery looks different.

Peace, happiness,
warmth and love.
Peace, happiness,
keep your Christmas mood always with you.

(A list of countries)
How beautiful our world is, when seen from above!
(More countries...)

Then I leave it to you to recognise all the countries that Santa is flying over.

Comment by Harmonia on December 13, 2015 at 10:54pm

Johan, your music is wonderful, and telling us the lyrics is so extra special!  I'll have to think about the Forrest Gump reference - what a puzzle!  The lyrics for Saint Lucy's Day are superb - no need for any explanation.  The translation speaks loud and clear and is very beautiful.  I like the simplicity of the words that somehow make the story even more profound.

Thank you again for this beautiful Advent gift. 

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