SD1048: Noel Nouvelet

Christmas Carols for Harp Ensemble
Noël Nouvelet
Traditional French
arranged for harp Stephen Dunstone

Cover imageNoël Nouvelet
Arranged for - 4-part harp ensemble
Level - Intermediate

Please click the "About this work & Performance Notes" heading below for further details

This book is supplied as a score and set of 4 parts


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Artist Profile and catalogue of works - Stephen Dunstone

Audio Sample

About this work & Performance Notes

Noël Nouvelet

The four parts are:-

Melody & Descants 1+2
Harmony 1
Harmony 2


I have been told off for saying things like “This has to be one of my all-time favourites” and“This is without doubt one of the greatest ever” so frequently about pieces of music, plays, films and books, that it doesn’t appear to leave scope for anything to be of lesser quality. This isn’t actually true - I do come across things that aren’t so brilliant - but I have to confess I can get very enthusiastic about those things that excite or move me.

Noël Nouvelet is a case in point. It really is one of the all-time greats, and (for me, at least) this is partly due to the fact that it’s a Dorian mode piece (looks like it’s in G major, but its home chord is actually A minor). This allows the juxtaposition of A minor and D major chords, which is both very mediaeval and very cool, and the kind of chord pairing used by some rock groups. It means, too, that you get cadences which are G major to A minor instead of the conventional E major to A minor perfect cadences, which is also very folky.

Some choral arrangements seem to disregard and even obscure this intrinsic quality, and give it that kind of droopy but slightly astringent 1960’s feel, which I feel is a terrible waste (and not in the least bit appropriate to the message of the carol).

So in my version I’ve tried to allow those wonderful harmonies to stand out clearly. And because there’s an irrepressible excitment to the whole thing, I’ve marked it to be played“Vigoroso” (which gives scope for personal interpretations of speed). I also couldn’t resist writing not just one descant, but two. Verse 4 introduces the first, verse 5 the second, and verse 6 combines the two, if you have enough players. Each verse only lasts about 20 seconds, so if, like me, you find yourself wanting more of it, just play some of it again!

I haven’t put any dynamics in, but despite the “Vigoroso” it does work to use a mixture of loud, energetic playing, and lighter, nimble, eyes-shining sounds.

Let me know if you’d like me to produce a droopy, astringent 1960’s version. (Don't expect me to do it, though.)

Library Information

Title: Noël Nouvelet
Composer: Traditional French
Arranger: Stephen Dunstone
Instrumentation: 4 Lever or Pedal Harps
Level: Intermediate
Format: A4 stapled score and set of 4 A4 parts
Weight: 140gm
ISMN: 979-0-57046-287-2
Our Ref: SD1048
Publisher: Creighton's Collection
Printer/Distributor: Creighton's Collection
Edition/Year: 2018
Origin: UK

Sample Pages

Sample Page