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Sonata Hymnica No. 1

Digital Sheet Music

By James Siddons

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Piano Solo - Level 4 - Digital Download
Composed by James Siddons. Arranged by James Siddons Music and Writings. 20th Century, Concert, Folk, Gospel, Jazz. Score. 19 pages. James Siddons Music and Writings #4350561. Published by James Siddons Music and Writings (A0.972645).

Item Number: A0.972645

About the Sonata Hymnica Series


Composer James Siddons draws on the ethos ofAmerican rural hymns and spirituals to create evocations of the deeper, largermeaning of familiar church melodies. These sonatas for piano solo explore thesedeeper meanings in a variety of contemporary musical influences, while keepingin mind the acoustics of small rural churches of the late nineteenth century,with wooden floors and walls, high ceilings, and dimensions determined by localbuilders who knew how to shape a room for excellent acoustics in an age of noelectricity and no microphones. These sonatas are but partly about the specificmelodies and words, and mostly about their meaning in spiritual contemplation .. . and the piano, resonating, reverberant, sometimes whispering---as a sacredharp.

            Althoughthese sonatas have no specific titles, the first sonata may be thought of asthe Prayer Sonata, the second as the Travel Sonata, as in a spiritual journey,and the third sonata is about our greatest fear, that of being alone andwithout God.


The pianist must keep in mind that these sonatasare about playing the piano as much as playing a composition. Musical effectscharacteristic of the piano and descriptive of the memory in American cultureare the substances of these piano solos. Touch is important: in many places,several dynamics are called for on the same beat. All three pedals on anAmerican piano (damper, sostenuto, and sustain) are needed. The orchestral andcinematic structure of this music requires extensive use of three staffs, whichmay consist of two treble and one bass staff, or one treble and two bassstaffs. In basic grand-staff passages, the two staffs may both be treble orboth bass. The musical influences in these sonatas include religious song inrural America, the chromaticism and Expressionism of Arnold Schoenberg and hisfollowers, and the tone colors of the music of Japanese composer ToruTakemitsu.


Sonata Hymnica No. 1 --- 15 minutes.Sonata Hymnica No. 2 ---  11 minutes.  Sonata Hymnica No. 3 ---  9 minutes.

About theComposer

Composer, musicologist, and pianist James Siddonsstudied composition with Dika Newlin, a protégé of Arnold Schoenberg, andelectronic music with Merrill Ellis, founder of the electronic music program atthe University of North Texas, where he also earned a PhD in musicology. Aftera year at the University of London, where he studied musical analysis at King’sCollege and electronic music at Goldsmiths’ College, Siddons spent two years inJapan as a research scholar at Tokyo University of Arts, participating in theEthnomusicology Seminar of Fumio Koizumi. Siddons has also studied theology andliturgy at the Duke University Divinity School. In addition to books andarticles on contemporary music and music in Japan, Siddons was writtencompositions in many genres. Recordings of his piano performances are availableat online streaming services.

His website is

His performing rights organization is ASCAP.

This product was created by a member of ArrangeMe, Hal Leonard’s global self-publishing community of independent composers, arrangers, and songwriters. ArrangeMe allows for the publication of unique arrangements of both popular titles and original compositions from a wide variety of voices and backgrounds.

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