Heidi Gerber-Salins:
Vocal Harmony Arranger - Phase I


Background from Phase I About Hymn Vocal Harmonies

Standard Hymn Harmonies

The established format for hymnals since 1861, when the Church of England published the first edition of the hymnal Hymns Ancient and Modern, became to include music for the melody (primarily as Soprano) and harmonies, typically in three supporting parts, together with the verse text materials. This is the classic Soprano-Alto-Tenor-Bass (SATB) structure. The hymns published in the hymnals collected by David's parents followed that four-part melody and harmony structure intended for congregational singing. Prior to that hymnals were text only.

The three hymn harmony parts (Alto-Tenor-Bass) typically included with the melody, tend to follow a pattern of being easier for congregations to follow. While that facilitates singing of hymns in part harmony by less musically trained congregations, it also produces an effect that might be described as "sounding like church hymns."

Descant Harmonies

None of the hymnals used as resources for selection of these hymns contained the additional high part now known as a descant. However, based on the wonderful experience gained in phase I, when the Producer and her mother added a descant from the 1982 Episcopal hymnal to the refrains on the last verse of "Christ the Lord Is Risen Today," they demonstrated that addition of Descants adds a wonderful dimension.

David had the great good fortune of discovering an extensive list of hymn descants published by arranger Mr. Jeff Whitmill. (He makes them freely available for all to use via his website found at (not secure), http://whitmill.net/descants/. ) That made it very practical to select several from Mr. Whitmill's list and add them to several hymns in Phase II. (There is a discussion of descants under Phase II.) As an easy cross reference, if you want to immediately read that material, you can click here on Descants.

Heidi Gerber-Salins' Creativity

As part of recording Phase I for Hymns and Songs of My Mother, Ms. Gerber-Salins, in addition to her role as the producer and audio engineer for Phase I, also functioned as vocal arranger of harmony parts for some of the hymns. She created several new duet harmony parts in place of using the hymnals' alto harmony parts. Ms. Gerber-Salins extemporaneously created those new harmony duet parts out of her head. Her vocal harmony arrangements add variety and harmonic listening interest for those duet parts.

The arrangement for "Were You There" was created by Ms. Gerber-Salins, with her singing most of the parts. At one point she commented the ideas for that arrangement are inspired by arrangement styles use by the a cappella singing and recording group, Sweet Honey in the Rock®.

(Sweet Honey in the Rock recorded many of their albums at Bias studio where Ms. Gerber-Salins had the opportunity to work with them.)


These gems of Ms. Gerber-Salins' vocal arrangements are scattered throughout the album.

Availability of Ms. Gerber-Salins' Vocal Arrangements

As of release of this album, the vocal hymn harmony parts extemporaneously created by Ms. Gerber-Salins are not written down, and currently only exist on this recording. Whether this project or Ms. Gerber-Salins may chose to document and have those harmony parts she created become available, is unknown. And if so, how she might chose to make them available is unknown? Feel free to click on the link below to the Comment page and comment if you so choose.



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