42 Astoundingly Useful Scripts and Automations for the Macintosh

Music Hall

Source files for the Astounding Scripts player piano.

Jerry Stratton

Tidings of Comfort and Joy—Wednesday, December 18th, 2019

God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen has long been one of my favorite Christmas songs. It’s fast-paced yet easy to sing along with.

As a child, however, I was always confused as to where the comma went. Is God resting them merry, or are they merry gentlemen? The title often doesn’t have a comma in it at all, making about as ambiguous as it can get. Researching for this article, several sources make it clear that it is almost certainly meant to be as I’ve titled it here, but even the old text I pulled this melody from titles their version “God rest you, merry Gentlemen”.1

It has an archaic and quaint quality partly because so many of the words are used in ways we wouldn’t use them today. Rest, merry, comfort, joy. Especially the former three, they’re a little off from their modern meanings. You can see some of it today by thinking about the difference between the noun comfort and the verb comfort. When the song was written, the noun had a similar meaning to the verb. To comfort someone is to encourage and support them, to strengthen them. You can get a sense of the meaning in such archaic legal phrases as “give aid and comfort to the enemy”, and in the similar words “fortitude” and “effort”.2 And how often do you use the term “rest” as a verb to do something to someone else? It’s mostly a personal verb nowadays: I’m going to rest, not I’m going to rest you.

Merry was more a sense of pleasantness than revelry. And joy still retained much of its religious connotation with “rejoice”.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel has come. And he will encourage and raise you up. The meanings are so very close to their modern meanings, yet obviously different in strange ways, as a child there was an almost happily eerie sense to the song. Which is probably a good part of why it was one of my favorites.

Here’s the treble clef:

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing—Wednesday, December 11th, 2019

Time to get ready for Christmas! There are a lot of amazing Christmas songs in the public domain. Among my favorite—and many others’ as well, especially gospel singers—is Hark! The Herald Angels Sing. It’s an uplifting song as befits a song about angels heralding the birth of the Son of God.

I pulled this from song 213 in Hymns of Praise, Number Two, which I pulled from my mother’s yard sale pile several years ago. I modified two notes: on the line “with angelic hosts proclaim”, in the treble clef, I turned the first two quarter notes into a quarter and a half plus an eighth. It’s more in line with what I remember, for one, and computerized music is too even when it comes to repeated notes of the same value and duration.

I typed this into two files. One for the treble clef, and one for the bass clef. That way, it’s even easier to create separate MIDI files for use with GarageBand.

Save these files as “Herald treble.txt” and “Herald bass.txt”.

The treble clef:

# Hark! the Herald Angels Sing
# Charles Wesley/Mendelssohn

#treble clef

--key G

4 "-D -D" "-D G"     | "-D. G." 8 "-D F" 4 "-D G" "G B" |
  "G B" "F A" "G D" "F D"    | [D. 8 C] E A "G B" "F A" |
2 "G B"

4 "-D -D" "-D G"     | "-D. G." 8 "-D F" 4 "-B G" "G B" | 
   [2 G] B A "F D" "E A"      | "F. A." 8 "-D F" 4 "-d F" "-C+ E" |
2 "-D -D"

4 "-D D" "-D D"      | "-D D" "G G" "A C" "G B"         |
  "G B" "F A" "-D D" "-D D"  | "-D D" "G G" "A C" "G B" |
  "G B" "F A"

4 "C. +E." 8 "C +E"  | 4 "C +E" "B D" "A C" "G+ B"      |
2 "A C" 4 "F A" [8 B C] F  | "G. D." 8 "-D G" 4 "-D G" "F A"   |
2 "G B"

4  [+ E. 8 E] C C    | "C +E" "B D" "A C" "G+ B"        |
2 "A C" 4 "-D A" [8 B C] F | "G. D." 8 "-D G" 4 "-D G" "F A"   |
2 "-D G"

R

And the bass:

# Hark! the Herald Angels Sing
# Charles Wesley/Mendelssohn

#bass clef

--key G

4 - "G B" "G B"     | [B. 8 A] G -D "-B G" "-G D"           |
2 "-D D" 4 "-B D" "-B D"    | "-C +E" "-C +E" "-D D" "-D D" |
2 "-G D"

4 "G B" "G B"       | [B. 8 A] G D "E G" "-D D"             |
2 "-C+ +E" 4 "-B B" "-C+ A" | [A. 8 A] D -F "-G B" "-A G"   |
2 "D F"

4 "D D" "D D"     | "D D" "B D" "F D" "G D"                 |
2 "-D D" 4 "D D" "D D"      | "D D" "B D" "F D" "G D"       |
2 "-D D"

4 "-C +C" "-C +C" | "-C +C" "-C +C" "-C +C" "E +C"          |
2 "A +C" 4 "C D" "C D"      | [D. 8 B] B G "-D B" "-D C"    |
2 "-G B"

4  [2 -C] "C +E" "C +E" | [2 -C] "C +E" "B D" "-C A C" "E G+ B" |
   [2 C] A G "F D" "C D"       | [D. 8 B] B G "-D B" "-D C"     |
2 "G B"

R

Turn them into midi files using the piano script from the book:

  • ~/bin/piano Herald\ treble.txt --save treble
  • ~/bin/piano Herald\ bass.txt --save bass
A Song of Thanksgiving: America, the Beautiful—Wednesday, November 27th, 2019

America the Beautiful (876.6 KB MP3 file)

Happy Thanksgiving! We have a lot to be thankful for. Spacious skies, unending waves of grain, heroes proved, and patriot’s dreams…

America, the Beautiful” is a beautiful song; it is simple enough to be sung or played by the average person, and complex enough that people like Ray Charles can really strut their stuff on it.

It’s also a beautiful prayer, an impassioned thanks to God for America’s beauty, its founders, its warriors, and its builders. It praises the wonders of America and her heroes, while still praying for God’s blessings on her and on them.

It isn’t an official hymn or anthem, but people love it, and for good reason.

    • O beautiful for spacious skies,
    • For amber waves of grain,
    • For purple mountain majesties
    • Above the fruited plain!
    • America! America!
    • God shed His grace on thee
    • And crown thy good with brotherhood
    • From sea to shining sea!
    • O beautiful for pilgrim feet,
    • Whose stern, impassioned stress
    • A thoroughfare for freedom beat
    • Across the wilderness!
    • America! America!
    • God mend thine every flaw,
    • Confirm thy soul in self-control,
    • Thy liberty in law!
    • O beautiful for heroes proved
    • In liberating strife,
    • Who more than self their country loved
    • And mercy more than life!
    • America! America!
    • May God thy gold refine,
    • Till all success be nobleness,
    • And every gain divine!
    • O beautiful for patriot dream
    • That sees beyond the years
    • Thine alabaster cities gleam
    • Undimmed by human tears!
    • America! America!
    • God shed His grace on thee
    • And crown thy good with brotherhood
    • From sea to shining sea!
Amazing Grace (Uncommon Melody)—Wednesday, October 2nd, 2019

Amazing Grace (Warwick melody) (423.5 KB MP3 file)

A lot of old songs were really poems set to music later. The melodies varied from place to place and person to person. This is a melody to Amazing Grace that I found in an old nineteenth-century hymnal, attributed to C.H. Warwick. It is nothing like the melody we use today and which I used to demonstrate the ‘piano’ script in 42 Astoundingly Useful Scripts and Automations for the Macintosh. I don’t think it’s just familiarity that makes the familiar melody better; Excell’s melody is unquestionably a more appropriate melody for a hymn, especially a hymn with the history of Amazing Grace. It is a more uplifting yet plaintive melody.

I find it difficult to even imagine using Warwick’s melody for the lyrics to Amazing Grace. It’s light, finger-tripping music. But it’s interesting to hear for its historical value. The Gospel Hymns series I found it in was very popular, which means this melody must have been used at many revivals and services across the United States in the nineteenth century.

# Warwick, C.H., p. 101, Gospel Hymns Combined
# Rev. John Newton/Samuel Stanley
--key D
# line 1

[- F   | 8 A F B G 4 F D  | 8 D A 4 G F A         |
         A A 8 A D C B               | 2 C 4 R - C]
[- - D | D D D - G        | A A D D               |
         C D E E                     | 2 A 4 R D ]

[- D   | D D D D          | + 8 F - D 4 C D D     |
         + E F E E                   | 2 E 4 R - D]
- D +  | 8 F B D B 4 A B  | 8 A F 4 E - D + F     |
         A 8 B 16 C D 8 C B A G+     | 2 A 4 R A

# line 2
       [- 8 G B B D 4 D A | A A A D               |
          8 D A A B 4 A A             | 2 A R]
       [- - D D D D       | C A D + F             |
            G 8 F G 4 A - A             | 2 D R]

       [- D + G F - D     | + E 2 - C 4 D         |
          8 D + E A G 4 F E          | 2 F R]
       8 B G D B 4 A F    | 8 G E A G 4 F A       |
               8 B C D E 4 D C            | 2 D R

Play it using something like:

  • ~/bin/piano "Warwick Amazing Grace.txt"

Or save it to a midi file using:

  • ~/bin/piano "Warwick Amazing Grace.txt" --save "Warwick Amazing Grace.midi"

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