Along with the wonderful new year 2013, I am releasing a new version of Happy Birthday. With this song I decided to participate in the Happy Birthday Contest organized by the Free Music Archive. Based on the jazz harmonies of my last Happy Birthday version, I composed a new melody and new lyrics for the song in order to render my composition completely Royalty-free (this was one condition for participating in the contest). After some recording and mixing, the final Happy Birthday version for the contest is ready to hit the world’s ears . This time, I performed the full recording using Linux with Ardour2 for the audio recording/mixing and Hydrogen for the drums. This is the first recording with my new James Tyler Varix JTV-59 (in combination with my Line6 Pod Xt Live).
Here is some background information on the contest taken from the FMA website:
WFMU and the Free Music Archive are challenging songwriters everywhere to unseat “Happy Birthday to You” from it’s cultural throne by composing possible replacements. The Birthday Song Contest seeks a few new Happy Birthday songs that are simple and catchy, with great earworm potential that can be sung in restaurants, bowling alleys, and even in TV shows and movies – free of charge.
The song “Happy Birthday To You” is the most recognizable song in the English language, but it can cost independent filmmakers an estimated $10,000 to clear the song for their films, and it will remain under copyright protection in the United States until 2030. This is a major stumbling block hindering the creation of new works of art. It’s time to shake (or at least unsettle) “Happy Birthday” from it’s fortified cultural throne, and replace it with a melody that the children can sing without fear of being served.
Update: The contest is over, my song did not make it, but congratulations to the winners !
It has already been a while that I transcribed David Qualey’s marvelous song “A Prayer” for acoustic guitar from his CD Handmade. In order to share this effort, here David Qualey – A Prayer – Tablature score for Guitar (PDF), as well as the LilyPond Sources and the automatically generated MIDI file. Enjoy !
(Note: also check out my new and original Happy Birthday version.)
I was thinking about how to play ‘Happy Birthday’ with a jazz feel and with typical jazz harmonies. I found it at first really difficult to put the standard I-IV-V chords into a more open form with IIm7-V7 progressions. I kept on thinking about and trying different things. Finally I a found a form which sounds jazz-like, yet still natural to me. I sat down and recorded a version this weekend .. sorry, I sang again (of course you need vocals for ‘Happy Birthday’!). The solo instrument is the great Guitalele from Yamaha (illustrated on the image to the left). It is very small, however, since it has six strings, it can be seen as a hybrid between a normal guitar and a Ukulele (which only has four strings). The song also features me on the samba egg.
And by the way, have you thought about this? You know somebody who has birthday? Here is the great idea: Make him happy and send him a link on this post 😉 !
I was contacted by Artem Galitsyn who arranged a big-band style Jazz version with a great femal singer and lyrics in Russian ! He kindly allowed me to put his version here online:
For people who are interested in the chords:
|| Gmaj7 Am7 | Bm7 Bb13 | Am7 | D9 |
| Am7 | D9 | Gmaj7 C#dim | Gmaj7 |
| Dm7 | G7 | Cmaj7 | F9(#11) |
| Em7 A7 | Am7 D7 | Gmaj7 Bbmaj7 | Ebmaj7 Abmaj7 ||
Lead sheet online @ wikifonia: I put this Happy Birthday jazz version also online to the website wikifonia which is a collection a lot of publicly available leadsheets. This is a great website. There you are able to download a nicely layouted pdf version of the leadsheet, you can also transpose it automatically, and download the music file itself!
Lead sheet 2: Thanks to Roger (see his comment below)! He send me a lead sheet for Happy Birthday in jazz that you can download !
I set up a new music page where you can listen to all my songs at a glance. Songs are also linked to their related posts which give some more details and/or tell you a little story about the song .
I have never put this online so far, but why not. This is a project that I was doing during an internship at the Center for Vision Research, in Toronto, Canada, in 2001/2002 .. it was my first real computer vision project . The idea is simple, make music with your hand. It works as follows, the horizontal position controls the pitch of the note, with the fingers one can control effects (distortion, chorus, reverb, and pitch bend).
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