The Personal Music Site of Kelvin Smith
Classical music is one of the great achievements of Western Civilization. Its roots trace back to ancient Greece and early Christian chants as well as secular folk music. It was scientifically studied and developed and instruments were invented and painstakingly developed by skilled craftsmen. Genius composers devoted their lives to exploiting the infinite varieties of possible sounds. Difficult questions about tuning had to answered and for a time there was a stream of new notes that needed to be added to the octave. Choirs of a thousand voices assembled and instruments weighing many tons have been built. The masses of the world today take it all for granted, but after years of experience, a trained musician has a deep appreciation for what has been done.
Classical music is a medium of communication, a sophisticated language in which feelings, emotions and abstract ideas are communicated. Sometimes the meaning can be put into words, sometimes it applies differently according to our circumstances in life, sometimes attempts to define its meanings seem to short-change it. Rhythms, keys and modulations, themes and forms, tonal colors and textual effects and phrasing all contribute to meaning in classical music. Fashion and popularity do not affect it; it transcends culture and creeds and political movements.
About this Collection
Much classical music is in the public domain. Scores published before 1923 (in the United States) can be reproduced and performed freely. Laws vary in other countries. The scores and recordings in this collection have been produced by Kelvin Smith as a public service and a personal hobby. Choral, organ, piano and vocal music are included. Some compositions by Kelvin Smith are included and may be used for non-commercial purposes. The scores are PDFs and can be viewed and printed with Adobe's Acrobat Reader. The audio files are in the MP3 format.
Choirs are one of the great traditions of our western culture, and date back to Old Testament times. Churches, schools and communities have traditionally hosted choirs. Participating in them gives us a sense of common purpose and unity and a powerful bond. What can compare with standing with a group of hundreds of singers who are all pouring out their hearts for the beauty of music!
The choral music is layed out on letter-sized sheets. Many scores do not include the accompaniment, which has the advantage of fewer page turns.
The organ music is layed out on legal-sized sheets in landscape orientation. The printing is often rather small, so that page turns can be avoided. There is a large collection of such scores, which were generated for personal use in practise and performance, eliminating the need for toting a pile of books around. Most scores include fingerings, which are just those used by Kelvin Smith. Many scores use the C clef, which some novices will hate, but the clef works out well for the left hand which is often straddling middle C. The C clef can actually be moved to put middle C on any line of the staff, but here the center line is generally used. Try it! You'll like it. Since it is generally necessary to play passages a thousand times anyway to learn them, it's not that big of a deal to have to think to figure out the notes at first.
Five Fingering Techniques
Here are five fingering techniques, in order of preference, which guided the fingerings herein: 1: Distribute notes between both hands. This is the best and most forgotten solution to solving tricky passages. 2: Finger crossing (you should develop facility at moving fingers under and over the others, especially the thumb. 3: Thumb glissando 4: Finger glissando. 5: Substitution. Any good organ method will teach you these tricks, and if you have not learned them, you are not an organist! In these scores, fingerings are usually only marked when some change in hand position is necessary.
Enjoy also a collection of books on music which are in the public domain. Outlines of Music History by Clarence Hamilton is a short and straightforward general history of music which has been very popular. Karl Gehrkens wrote a useful book on Music Notation and Termonilogy where you can look up all those funny squiggles and Italian terms, as well as an easily-understood handbook on the Essentials in Conducting. See the current list of music books.