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Christmas Carols are quite a 'study'.
Song Structures are easily discerned. They're short and sweet, so to speak. Verse, Verse, Chorus. Or Chorus, Verse, Chorus. Other.
The Melodies are fascinating uses of Scales, fun to pick out as individual Notes.
Spend some time with your Carols to learn a lot about Song-Writing.


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"Jingle Bells" is an interesting Structure.
You can start with the Chorus;

Oh! Jingle Bells! Jingle Bells! Jingle all the way!
Oh! What fun it is to ride in a one-horse open sleigh!
Oh! Jingle Bells! Jingle Bells! Jingle all the way!
Oh! What fun it is to ride in a one-horse open sleigh!

There's a slight variation in the Melody of the 2nd and 4th Lines, that is effective in how we perceive the 'completeness' of the Chorus. We know by that slight Melodic difference that the Chorus has more to say, by the end of Line 2, and has said all it has to say by the end of Line 4, and that something else in the Structure is ready to follow; the Verse.

Dashing through the snow, in a one-horse open sleigh!
O'er the fields we go, laughing all the way!
Bells on bobtails ring, making spirits bright!
Oh! What fun it is to sing a sleighing song tonight!

The commas break the Phrasing up, affecting how we 'hear' it, how we process the word meanings in the simple Phrases, and put the whole together in our comprehension.

At the end of the Verse we're ready to hear the Chorus Repeat.
By the end of the second giving of the Chorus, I, for one, don't mind hearing the Verse again.
The Verse is delivered, Melodically, in an 'expositional' mode, exposing more of the scene-setting from the Chorus. There is simple 'repetition' of 'one-horse open sleigh' in the Verse, from the Chorus, and 'sleighing', with the addition of 'dashing through the snow' and the 'bells on bobtails', the belled tails of the horses further 'exposing' the Storyline, the scene-setting.
The Melody of the Verse ends in a way that implies it is 'time' for the Chorus.

The Structure can Repeat from the start. At some point it will become redundant, perhaps exhausting the 'interest' of listeners and sing-along, but it goes much further than most Songs in sustaining listener interest and sing-along participation. That is an 'effect' of the Melodic nuances and the 'fullness' of the Chorus and Verse Structures, and the overall Structure.
Time is important. Both Chorus and Verse go on long 'Enough' to keep us interested, and stop when we have been 'prepared' for a change of dynamics, supplied by the other Stanza.

Just those two Stanzas can be very entertaining.
There are other versions of the Lyric with additional Verses. Note that this one still opens with the Chorus, even doubling the Chorus, and, probably, still working to sustain listener/sing-along interest.

Jingle Bells
Dashing through the snow
On a one horse open sleigh
O'er the fields we go,
Laughing all the way
Bells on bob tail ring,
making spirits bright
What fun it is to laugh and sing
A sleighing song tonight

Oh, jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one horse open sleigh
Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one horse open sleigh

A day or two ago,
I thought I'd take a ride,
And soon Miss Fanny Bright
Was seated by my side;
The horse was lean and lank
Misfortune seemed his lot
We got into a drifted bank,
And then we got upsot.

Oh, jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one horse open sleigh
Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one horse open sleigh

Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells,
Jingle all the way!
Oh, What fun it is to ride
In a one horse open sleigh.
Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells,
Jingle all the way!
Oh, What fun it is to ride
In a one horse open sleigh.

Now the ground is white
Go it while you're young
Take the girls tonight
And sing this sleighing song
Just get a bob tailed bay
two-forty as his speed
Hitch him to an open sleigh
And crack! you'll take the lead

Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells,
Jingle all the way!
Oh, What fun it is to ride
In a one horse open sleigh.
Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells,
Jingle all the way!
Oh, What fun it is to ride
In a one horse open sleigh.


There will always be another song to be written. Someone will write it. Why not you? www.garyeandrews.com
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"Santa Claus Is Coming To Town"

You'd better watch out!
You'd better not cry!
You'd better not shout!
I'm telling you why!
Santa Claus Is Coming, To Town!

He's making a list!
He's checking it twice!
He's gonna find out,
who's naughty and nice!
Santa Claus Is Coming To Town!

Now, having Repeated the Melody of the Verse Stanza twice, ending each one with a Refrain-Type Chorus, a single Melodic Refrain, and identical Line of Lyric, the main idea of the Song, a third Repeat might risk monotony, losing listener interest.
It is 'time' for a Change of dynamics, which is supplied by a Bridge, a variant Melody, Lyrically pivotal information, coherent with the theme.

He sees you when you're sleeping!
He knows when you're awake!
He knows when you've been bad or good,
so be good for goodness sake!

And, with that brevity, the listener is prepared to hear Verse I and the Chorus Refrain again, without monotony.

Simplicity works marvelously!


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"Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer" is a more complex Storyline, demanding more words to do the Exposition, the scene-setting.

It begins with a 'recitation', less 'sung' than 'recited';

You know Dasher, and Dancer, and Prancer, and Vixen, Comet, and Cupid, and Donner, and Blitzen.
But do you recall,
the most famous reindeer of all?

And the Chorus Refrain opens the Verse; (commas 'rest' the Phrasing)

Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, had a very shiny nose!
And if you ever saw it, you would even say it glows!
All of the other reindeer, used to laugh and call him names!
They wouldn't let poor Rudolph, join in any reindeer games!

Then the Melody changes, a change of dynamics, in what I will label a Bridge, breaking the monotony that more identical Repetition might risk.

Then one foggy Christmas Eve, Santa came to say,
"Rudolph, with your nose so bright, won't you guide my sleigh tonight?"

The Melody at that point Repeats from the previous Verse (All of the other reindeer)
Then all the reindeer loved him, and they shouted out with glee,
Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, you'll go down in history!

And Verse I with the Chorus Refrain, Repeats, and the ear welcomes back the familiar Melody and Lyric.
Getting the story exposed demanded a lot of words. Structure simplified it, made it 'listenable' therefore 'memorable', memorizable, sing-along-able.

And that made it a classic, perennially played in Royalty-generating venues.


Last edited by Gary E. Andrews; 11/26/22 04:05 PM.

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"Silver Bells" became a classic. Scene-setting at Christmas-time;

City sidewalks! Busy sidewalks, dressed in holiday style! (Repetition, memorable!)
In the air there's a feeling of Christmas! (Interesting completeness, resolve, of Melody.)
Children laughing! People passing, meeting smile after smile! (Repetition!)
And on every street corner you hear... (The Melodic 'lift', and the Lyrical 'cliffhanger', are a simple Pre-Chorus. Then, the Chorus itself is simple, Repetitions, Melody, and done! Ready for a Verse Repeat, Melodically, with new Lyric.)

Silver Bells! Silver Bells!
It's Christmas time, in the city!
Ring-a-ling! Ring-a-ling!
Soon it will be Christmas day!

Strings of streetlights, even stop lights, (Verse Melody Repeats; new Lyric)
blink a bright red and green,
as the shoppers run home with their treasures!
Hear the snow crunch, see the kids bunch!
This is Santa's big scene,
and above all the bustle you hear... (Again, the Melodic 'lift', a signal that a Change is coming, and the familiar Chorus Repeats, welcome to hear again, not annoying by excess Repetition, welcome, and memorable, sing-along-able.

Simplicity works!

A third Repeat of the Chorus is not overdoing it either. You can probably execute this Song in well under three minutes. Simplicity.

Bing Crosby;

Last edited by Gary E. Andrews; 11/26/22 03:59 PM.

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"White Christmas"

I'm dreaming of a White Christmas,
just like the ones I used to know,
where the tree tops glisten,
and children listen,
to hear, sleighbells in the snow!

And a Verse II Repeats the Melody of Lines one and two from Verse I, to open, with some Lyrical variation.

I'm dreaming of a White Christmas,
with every Christmas card I write!

But then varies the Melody to resolve to a Melodic ending;

May your days be merry, and bright,
and may all your Christmases be white!

Then Repetition, mixing the Melodies of Lyric heard before, for a Coda, a final Musical Movement.

I'm dreaming of a White Christmas,
just like the ones I used to know.
May your days be merry, and bright,
and may all your Christmases be white!
May your days be merry, and bright,
and may all your Christmases be white.

Again, simplicity, complexity, what works, works.

Bing Crosby;


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"Walkin' In A Winter Wonderland"

Sleigh bells ring! Are you listenin'?
In the lane, snow is glistenin'!
A beautiful sight! We're happy tonight, (Note the Rhyme-Scheme, the pattern, Rhythm and Rhyme, set in Verse I, Repeated in Verses II and III.)
Walkin' In A Winter Wonderland!

Gone away, is the bluebird!
Here to stay, is the new bird!
He sings our love song, as we go along,
Walkin' In A Winter Wonderland!

Then the Bridge, a variant Melody, to renew listener interest. A third Repeat of Verse Melody risked monotony. The Change of dynamics, Rhyme Scheme, Lyrical Rhythm, and the Lyrical word-meanings, keeps us 'Hooked', listening, attentive.

In the meadow we will build a snowman,
and pretend that he is Parson Brown!
He'll say, "Are you married?"
We'll say, "No man!
But you can do the job when you're in town!

Now we're ready to hear a Repeat of Verse Melody in a Verse III;

Later on, we'll conspire,
as we dream, by the fire,
to face unafraid, the plans that we made,
Walkin' In A Winter Wonderland!
Walkin' In A Winter Wonderland!


Last edited by Gary E. Andrews; 11/26/22 04:34 PM.

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"Silent Night" is a simple three Verses of Lyric, each sung to the same Melody.

Silent Night. Holy night.
All is calm. All is bright.
'Round yon vir-ir-gin, mother and child,
holy in-fant, so tender and mild.
Sleep in heav-enly pe-eace.
Sleep in heav-enly peace.

Silent Night. Holy night.
Shepherds quake, at the sight.
Glories stre-eam from hea-ven afar.
Heaven-ly ho-osts, sing 'alleleuja.
Christ the sav-ior is bo-orn.
Chi-ist the sav-ior is born.

Silent Night. Holy night.
Son of God, loves pure light.
Radiant be-ams from thy, holy face,
with the dawn, of redeeming grace.
Jesus, Lord, at thy bir-irth.
Je-e-sus, Lord, at thy birth.

THE Hook, the title, is in Line 1 of Verse I, Repeats in Verse II and in Verse III.
The number of syllables in each other Line is identical, or nearly so, in each Verse. The breaking of syllables into separate Notes accomplishes the 'identical' Repeat of the Melody of the Musical Movement, as the new Lyrical content keeps us listening.

Last edited by Gary E. Andrews; 11/28/22 07:04 AM.

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And that Christmas Carol examination only treats lightly of the 'possible' Structures. If a Structure works, it works. One should explore, push the envelope, beyond the parameters of the common four-Line Verse, and always opening with the Verse. Can your Chorus make a better 'opening', and then go to the Verse?
Can you write with the internal Rhyme of Nursery Rhymes without becoming tongue-twistingly tangled to an unpleasant degree?
Can you create Characters who communicate with one another, engaging listeners like eves-droppers on a private conversation, or imaginers of themselves in the title roles, the Singer-Character, telling his/her tale to an audience, or communicating directly with an 'Other-Character', a nemesis, a Love-Interest Character, an 'Other-Character' who makes the Storyline interesting to hear of?

An anonymous 'narrator' tells of;
Little Miss Muffet, a Character, who "sat on a tuffet, eating her curds and whey. Two 'Phrases' Rhyme, and a third Phrase is left hanging, un-Rhymed.
Then the poet picks it up, Repeating the 'Pattern' set in the preceding Phrases, "Along came a spider (a Spider-Character?), and sat down beside her, and scared Miss Muffet away!"

That Rhyme-Scheme breaks the mold of the common four-Line, Rhyme Lines 2 and 4 only, or 1 and 3, 2 and 4. A Lyric and Melody can be made to stand out among the common, uncommon, unique because the other patterns are so commonly used.

Can you create worlds, with words, getting listeners to 'suspend disbelief', to 'believe' that your fictional Characters and their 'Situation Comedy or Tragedy' is 'real', a real story, the singer assuming the persona of a Singer-Character, in the story, relating it as a story-teller, or letting listeners eves-drop as the story unfolds?

You can. Explore. You can. You can emulate the patterns, the common, the uncommon, get creative and find new patterns.
Despite thousands of years of The Human Phenomenon's creative styles, the possibilities have not been exhausted.
Writers write. That's what makes them writers.
Creatives create, often inspired, random and ad lib, off-the-cuff, then often crafting, deliberately deciding how a Lyric will tell the story, how the Melody will deliver the word-meanings to convey the drama, the comedy, the emotion, madness, anger, despair, mere melancholy. All the emotions a Human can experience are at your disposal to imagine these worlds you create, these Characters, their situations, and how they're 'handling' it.
As a Song-Writer you are the first 'listener'. You make judgment calls about the words, the stories, the Melodies to which the Lyric is sung. Often Lines come and only later do you comprehend more of the story, enabling you to re-write, to go back and modify, to set up for where the story goes. The situation of the Characters comes clearer after you've already written some of it, and you may go back and re-set the scene, 'people' it with Characters, attribute behaviors to them, assign dialog to them, put props, properties, on the stage, to give visual or conceptual concreteness to the 'world' you're creating, and the people in it.
Writers write, and read what they have written, and sing the story, and listen. And decide.

Explore. For a lifetime, explore your muse. Go where the story, the Song, wants to go. Fear no genre. If you decide a Line of Lyric has merit, a Line of Melody has merit, explore it. Don't reject it because it doesn't seem to be the genre you favor in your listening, or previous writing. See where it can take you; where you can take it. When you create something your judgment decides is 'good', it will be worth your time, a Return-On-Investment of your time. Time, like money, can be simply 'spent', or 'invested'. That ROI, Return-On-Investment, determines the difference. Invest yourself.


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Here's one for you:


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This one's a little tougher to transcribe, enabling analysis. Here's the 'Lyric' and 'Structure' as I understand it.
Ten second Introductory Movement.
An 'Intro' need only be long 'Enough' to serve that function.
That 'Enough' concept is true of other 'Movements too. Your 'Verse' need only be long 'Enough' to do the 'Exposition' to 'Expose' the 'Storyline' and get to 'The Hook', the title 'Line' that sums up what the Story is about.

This one employs a 'Refrain-Type Chorus', the last 'Line' in Verse I. "It's A Not So Merry Christmas (Here In The Trailer Park)".
Getting there within the first minute or less is strong Structural form. The 'rule' is, "Don't bore us! Get to the Chorus!" It has to do with the Human attention span.
In this one you have the listener at the Refrain-Type Chorus in under 40 seconds.)

"Not So Merry Christmas (Here In The Trailer Park)" copyright by Marc Barnette

Verse I
There's a dog, goin' to barf, in my yard!
He's got my wreath, in his teeth, along with my Hallmark card.
My neighbor's got his chain saw, goin' for my car!
It's a Not So Merry Christmas, Here In The Trailer Park! (0:41)

Verse II
Ho! Ho! Ho's are walkin' up and down my street!
Low, Low, Low Riders are chasing me!
Seven Latin lords a'leaping
????

It's A Not So Merry Christmas, Here In The Trailer Park! (1:10)
(Second 'hit' on THE Hook, just over 60 seconds. Strong on memorability, driving home that 'Line' as the main idea of the Song.)

Woo hoo hoo hoo! Woo hoo hoo! (Background singers; turnaround.)

Lyrical Bridge (A Bridge need only be a brief Movement, ideally with pivotal Lyrical information, and with its own 'Melody' in the 'Arrangement', a variation from the Melody of Verse and Chorus, to renew listener interest, breaking the 'Repetition' of Verse Structures with 'Change'. I miss some words, if I'm getting some right, so the Lyric as 'sent' isn't 'received' so the joke doesn't 'land'. Enunciation is of strategic importance.)

Well my best guess is Santa got involved in someone new.
I hope a number twelve and they Christmas too
(I can't quite 'receive' the words as sung. Sometimes you can get words in context but in a farcical Lyric it could be anything.

Verse III
I want someone to see my Christmas Spirit now!
I'll hang my mistletoe, right where I sit down!
If my single wide burns down this year,
that's a real good start!
It's A Not So Merry Christmas, Here In The Trailer Park!

(Instrumental Bridge)(The function of a Bridge, breaking the Repetition with Change, can be served Lyrically or Instrumentally.)
Everybody (sing?) Woo Hoo!

(Repeat Lyrical Bridge)
Well my best guess is Santa got involved with someone new.
I hope a number twelve and they Christmas too!

Jon Ander's Son (Repeat VIII) (While fun to play live, deleting this Repeat could shorten the track by about 40 seconds, making it more 'Radio Friendly', more likely to get played. What you do live can go on longer and a live audience enjoys it. For radio, they prefer short Songs that leave more time for commercial advertising that plays the bill. If you can get a Song into the perennial playlist for Christmas, getting played over and over across the nation, it can be a Royalty earner. "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer" is probably making money this December of 2022.)

I want someone to see my Christmas Spirit now!
So I'll hang my mistletoe, right where I sit down!
If my single wide burns down this year,
that's a real good start!
It's A Not So Merry Christmas, Here In The Trailer Park!
(Coda) (A Coda is the final Musical Movement, often referred to as an 'Outro', abbreviating the non-word 'Outroduction', a logical linguistic innovation.)
It's A Not So Merry Christmas, Here In The Trailer Park!
(Four 'hits' on THE Hook to drive that home as THE Hook, the memorable title.)
(End: 3:23)
Great production overall. Instrumentation superb. Nashville playing/recording know-how!


There will always be another song to be written. Someone will write it. Why not you? www.garyeandrews.com
1 member likes this: Brian Austin Whitney
Joined: Dec 2006
Posts: 3,648
Likes: 30
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Top 100 Poster
Joined: Dec 2006
Posts: 3,648
Likes: 30
For beginner guitarists the 'religious' Christmas Carols have wonderful Melodies to pluck out on guitar.
Most of the above are the 'novelty' Songs of popular culture, children's Songs, Songs of how people 'celebrate' the Christmas Holiday, and just general 'winter' activities from days of old, and more modern city life.
I notice they 'borrow' from each other occasionally, using the same elements to develop their themes.
The 'religious' Carols are Classics, which became Classics because of their pleasing Melodies, and religious Storylines of the Lyric.
The Melodies are likely Scales, recognizable to the trained musician. I am not a trained musician, but I can pick out some of the Melodies and quite enjoy their virtues, the 'completeness' of them.
"God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" is a good one I just discovered can be easily 'plucked', mainly on the Treble B and Treble E strings. I found I could add in the G string to get one Note and quite enjoy it.
"Joy To The World" is another.
The exploration experience simply teaches you about the Intervals, Half-Intervals, Whole-Intervals, and where you can find Notes up and down the length of the neck, and the width of the neck. Half-Intervals are side by side, no empty fret between. Whole intervals have an empty fret between them. You should be able to hear the wrong Note and the right Note when you hit them.
Explore them as familiar Melodies you know and therefore can easily identify right and wrong Notes. Find your way. Explore. You're learning things that should have other applications in your musical explorations, playing, Song-Writing.


There will always be another song to be written. Someone will write it. Why not you? www.garyeandrews.com

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