Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Hidden Gems: A Laid-Back Holiday Soundtrack

We’ve all been there. You’d like to play some holiday music to get in the gift-wrapping mood, but if you hear one more replay of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” you'll give an elf a wedgie. What to do? Drop by the NCC Libraries for some alternatives to boring shopping mall music!

You may not be familiar with the name of jazz pianist Vince Guaraldi, but his music will be instantly recognizable -- Guaraldi composed the soundtrack for the early Peanuts animated cartoons, like “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” Take home the Vince Guaraldi Trio’s “Greatest Hits” CD, located in the Library’s Media Tower, and you’ll hear the timeless instrumental piece “Christmas Time Is Here,” featuring a soft brush on the drums that evokes the hush of freshly fallen snow. Guaraldi also arranged a cool jazz version of the holiday standard “O Tannenbaum” (Oh Christmas Tree) that contains some amazing chord progressions on the piano.

If you’re all about the vocals, don’t miss these doo-wop and a capella CDs: “Christmas in Harmony” and “The Ultimate Group Harmony Christmas Collection.” Both feature holiday songs with an early rock ’n’ roll sensibility, performed by groups like the Penguins, the Cadillacs, the Sheps and Jackie Wilson & The Dominoes. And let’s not forget Elvis! The Library’s 3-disc set, “Elvis Presley: Artist of the Century,” contains a number of sweet holiday treats, including “Merry Christmas, Baby.”

If a full orchestra playing lush, dramatic ballets and symphonies is more your style, try out the Classical Music Library database. Your traditional favorites are here: “The Nutcracker Suite” by Tchaikovsky; “Ave Maria” by composers ranging from Stravinsky to Liszt to Brahms to Gregorian chant; “Silent Night” by Franz Gruber. While you’re browsing the thousands of audio clips, why not try some new holiday music you’ve never heard before? Just search for the word “Christmas” in the song title and you’re sure to discover some hidden gems of your very own!

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