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Sonata Hymnica No. 3

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, Blues, Concert, Jazz, Spiritual. Score. 12 pages. James Siddons Music and Writings #4350581. Published by James Siddons Music and Writings (A0.972647).

Item Number: A0.972647

About the Sonata HymnicaSeries

Program Note

Composer James Siddons draws on theethos of American rural hymns and spirituals to create evocations of thedeeper, larger meaning of familiar church melodies. These sonatas for pianosolo explore these deeper meanings in a variety of contemporary musicalinfluences, while keeping in mind the acoustics of small rural churches of thelate nineteenth century, with wooden floors and walls, high ceilings, anddimensions determined by local builders who knew how to shape a room forexcellent acoustics in an age of no electricity and no microphones. These sonatasare but partly about the specific melodies and words, and mostly about theirmeaning in spiritual contemplation . . . and the piano, resonating,reverberant, sometimes whispering---as a sacred harp.

           Although these sonatas have no specific titles, the first sonata may bethought of as the Prayer Sonata, the second as the Travel Sonata, as in aspiritual journey, and the third sonata is about our greatest fear, that ofbeing alone and without God.

SonataHymnica No. 3 draws on two melodies fromthe African-American experience. One, "Were You There (When They Crucified MyLord)?" was first published in 1899 in W. E. Barton’s Old Plantation Hymnsbut existed earlier as a folk hymn. It became the first spiritual to beincluded in a major hymnal, The Hymnal 1940 of the Episcopal Church inthe U.S.A. "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child" was sung by the JubileeSingers of Fisk University from 1870 on, and was published in the Rev. Dr. Barton’sOld Plantation Hymns in 1899.

Performance Note

The pianist must keep in mind thatthese sonatas are about playing the piano as much as playing a composition.Musical effects characteristic of the piano and descriptive of the memory inAmerican culture are the substances of these piano solos. Touch is important:in many places, several dynamics are called for on the same beat.

Duration --- . Sonata Hymnica No. 3--- 9 minutes.

About the Composer

Composer, musicologist, and pianistJames Siddons studied composition with Dika Newlin, a protégé of ArnoldSchoenberg, and electronic music with Merrill Ellis, founder of the electronicmusic program at the University of North Texas, where he also earned a PhD inmusicology. After a year at the University of London, where he studied musicalanalysis at King’s College and electronic music at Goldsmiths’ College, Siddonsspent two years in Japan as a research scholar at Tokyo University of Arts,participating in the Ethnomusicology Seminar of Fumio Koizumi. Siddons has alsostudied theology and liturgy at the Duke University Divinity School. Inaddition to books and articles on contemporary music and music in Japan,Siddons was written compositions in many genres. Recordings of his pianoperformances are available at online streaming services.

His website is

Hisperforming 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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