Archive for December, 2011

Ave Maria, Gratia PlenaI have just finished composing this song for harp and voice for performance as guest artist at a Vespers next Sunday.  The topic provided to me was “Mary” or “commitment” or “The Three Kings”.  I was inspired by the first two (the breastfeeding counselor in me, obviously).

The melody is “odd”.  In the chorus, the word “Maria” always starts with a descending tritone, which is echoed in other parts of the chorus and verse (on the important word of the phrase).  This melodic device is an homage to another “Maria”.  If you can guess who’s and where, you get special points from me (but other than that you got the point, I’m not sure what’s special that I can give you).

Instead of the usual western chords, I mostly play a sustinato 5th of F-C (even when I start with the tritone on Bb to E), and the musical interludes have a decidedly Latin flavor with lots of thirds and off-beat rhythms. Overall, it sounds “ethereal” to me–so the feel is not “cutesy” at all.  I promise I will upload a performance in the new year (once I figure out how to record something that replays well in the computer).

Ethereal--indeed, to Maria, ethereal is how she might have felt when a winged angel appeared at her side.  And ethereal is sometimes how a first-time mother feels when she holds and nurses her baby in those beginning days.  Ethereal is what a mother feels knowing that this new child is now “my child forever” (“the rest of my life”).  So, my other homage in this song is to that of “the great mother”–eternal, ethereal, loving, warm, sustaining, light-shining, powerful, and any other “amazingness” you’d like to assign the great mother.  PAX

Maria of the Shining Light


Maria, Maria, Maria,
A woman, a mother, a wife,
Maria, Maria, Maria,
Bright emblem of loving and life.


Archangel Gabriel flew into your sight,
Declared he, “Shall birth you a child of might.
I vow that Joseph will honor this right
And promise that you shall be mother of light.”

Three womanly joys in us you do rest:
Devotion and reverence, a sweet love sure blest;
Provision and sustenance, kind milk of one’s breast;
Salvation and providence, warm arms as babe’s nest.

A small infant, whimpering, squirms in my clutch,
I salve baby’s hunger with soft milky touch.
O, help me, Maria, commit to this much.
On all mothers, Maria, shine your light such.

Final Chorus:

Maria, Maria, Maria,
Wise woman, great mother, good wife,
Maria, Maria, Maria,
Shining paragon of loving and life.

© Janna Maria Fröhlich, 12/31/2011

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Musings on strings and keys

The harp is just a piano sideways.

The piano is just a harp horizontally.

A piano is making music in two dimensions while a harp is making music in three.

I want to get an accordion for my next instrument.

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Haiku Selections No. 1

Three Haiku for 9/11 (written 9/11/11)

Nine in the morning.
One home–work, phone;  Beth tells me
One fact: “Planes crash.” Me:  “What!?”

Why haven’t they done
what they should? No good happens
when no reaching happens.

Daughter arrives home.
At door. She asks. I tell. Her
question “Why do they hate us so?!”

Haiku re a 4-year-old’s questions (9/11/11)

Driving home from school–mundane,
Traffic light, we stop.  He asks
“Mommy, can God die?”

Haiku–From Norway Maple to Drum 8/31/11

My silver maple,
Felled by hard wind and harsh rain,
Your heart will beat again.

Haiku–Morning light on Jamaica Pond 9/4/11

Diffuse morning light,
Ripples shimmery as silk;
Sense of softness surrounds.

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