Thursday, December 13, 2012

O Tannenbaum (O Christmas Tree)


Sigh.  Ten years of German language instruction, and pretty much all that I can remember is the first two choruses of  O Tannenbaum.  And those are mostly remembered from Grandpa George and not from classes!  

The modern lyrics are due to Leipzig organist, teacher and composer Ernst Anschütz, written in 1824. The lyrics do not actually refer to Christmas, or describe a decorated Christmas tree. Instead, they refer to the fir qualities as a symbol of constancy and faithfulness.

O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
Wie treu sind deine Blätter!
Du grünst nicht nur zur Sommerzeit,
Nein, auch im Winter, wenn es schneit.
O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
Wie treu sind deine Blätter!

O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
Du kannst mir sehr gefallen!
Wie oft hat schon zur Winterzeit
Ein Baum von dir mich hoch erfreut!
O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
Du kannst mir sehr gefallen!

Here is a favorite Christmas tree picture from years past


My other story about the german language involves my first-ever trip to Germany.  I went to Heidelberg on a business trip several years ago.  For some reason,  I have one german phrase that has remained in my mind all of these years.  It is from my seventh grade lesson.  The phrase is "wer ist denn dass da druben?",  which means in English:  "who is that over there?"   I was determined to do two things on my first trip to Germany:

1) Have real wiener schnitzel
2) Use my one phrase in conversation before I left the country

The opportunity presented itself at the Christmas party of the company that I was visiting.  They happened to have a very good jazz band playing with a fairly accomplished piano player.   With beer in hand,  I leaned over to one of my partner colleagues,  pointed to the piano player, and said "wer is denn dass da druben?"  He started answering me back in high-speed german before realizing that I had no idea what he was saying.  But victory was mine!

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Geek Alert


The gospel ending on this piece was a great idea and comes courtesy of my piano teacher Ed.  Thanks!
I went through many versions of this song, from organ trio, to David Sanborn 80's retro sound.  I finally came to the conclusion that my solo would only sound good as vibes with a tube amp.   So this is how I wound up with the smooth-as-a-gravy-sandwich sound that you are hearing.   I am playing the piano and the electric piano with the vibes/tube amp sound.

If you are wondering about the strange intro and ending vamp,  my arrangement is GM7, Db+, FM7/C, GM11/C, BbM11, A+, Ab6, Bb7sus/F, Bb7