Variations on Jesus Loves Me (2012)

arr. Kevin Smith

$7.95 (USD) | Page-count 8

I composed this arrangement of Jesus Loves Me as a gift for my mother who wished to hear this classic tune in theme and variation form.  My goal, then, was to highlight the melody’s beauty while showcasing technical and harmonic idioms which are unique to the guitar.  The key of E was apt to accomplish this.  Thus, the arrangement opens with a simple, thematic statement on top of a steady eighth-note accompaniment.  This simplicity soon gives way to a virtuosic stream of 16th-notes signaling the start of the first variation.  After a rollercoaster ride of slurs and arpeggios, the section comes to a close.  Variation No. 2 presents the melody in triple-meter and explores the harmonic possibilities of the guitar providing the listener with contrast as well as a moment of quiet contemplation.  The third variation demonstrates one of the guitar's most unique and beloved techniques: tremolo.  Here, the melody is played entirely on the first string in rapid thirty-second notes while the harmonies are outlined below by the player’s thumb.  The fourth, and final, variation features alternating thirds and sixths that slide either towards, or away, from the melody by half-step.  The effect is a joyous and jocular rendition of an otherwise docile melody.  The arrangement closes with a slow, solemn restatement of the theme only to explode into a flurry of arpeggios ending triumphantly on an E-major chord in first position.

When I Survey the Wondrous Cross (2011)

arr. Jonathan Roth

$5.95 (USD) | Page-count 4

This arrangement of When I Survey the Wondrous Cross was composed specifically for a communion service at Wheaton Evangelical Free Church in Wheaton, Illinois on August 28, 2011.  My objective was to enhance the congregation’s prayers without becoming a distraction and so I decided that a singular melody was the best way to break the silence of that precious moment.  This simple, yet powerful, introduction is followed by a stream of accompanying eighth-notes atop a descending bass-line which propels the music forward.  By m9, the arrangement has already reached the summit of its textural density, displaying a more adventurous accompaniment, while the bass-line ascends to its point of origin.  The second iteration of the hymn tune (m18) is taken up by the tenor which floats below a harmonically static, but contemplative, accompaniment, never rising above a mezzo-piano dynamic.  The melody, here, is fingered exclusively on the fourth string giving this passage a subdued warmth which is truly meditative.  The last verse (m33) returns to the soprano and exhibits, once again, that adventurous accompaniment first heard in m9—only this time, it is inverted keeping the arrangement both familiar and fresh.  At m37, the texture begins to thin out reflecting patterns heard much earlier (m5-8).  It is here, in the middle of verse three, that the melody is seen cloaked with colorful, chromatic chords which in addition to providing harmonic variety also creates a momentary feeling of despair. After a thoughtful fermata, the arrangement ends the way it began—with a singular melody—preaching” the good news plainly and simply.

Amazing Grace (2012)

arr. Jonathan Roth

$5.95 (USD) | Page-count 4

This arrangement of Amazing Grace was composed expressly for communion and was first performed at All Souls’ Anglican Church in Wheaton, Illinois on June 24, 2012.  As such, it was necessary for the presentation to be powerful and, yet, contemplative.  Thus, the key of G provided a convenient selection of natural harmonics with which to subtly introduce the melody.  These harmonics are followed by fretted pitches in the same soprano/alto range which alternate with a sparse accompaniment in order to gain momentum. Verse two has been assigned to the tenor and displays a tasteful degree of ornamentation so as to mimic the soulful interpretation of a gospel singer.  By this time (m18), the accompaniment has occupied any space left vacant by the melody propelling the music forward.  The latter half of the second stanza is sung by the bass which sounds below an inversion of the accompaniment found in m10-17.  The tenor takes over in verse three and is, likewise, supported by an accompanimental inversion (see m18-25) which completes the textural crescendo begun in m1.  M41 marks the end of this arrangement’s developmental journey as the melody ascends and the accompaniment dissolves.  The last verse echoes the introductory harmonics only to end halfway through, on the dominant, while a low, supportive tonic fades into eternity. 

Meditations

Jonathan Roth

$24.95 (USD) | Page-count 28

This folio is a companion to my first sound recording: Meditations.  The original works and arrangements found herein were composed between the years 2003 and 2005 midway through my undergraduate career.  While mostly simple, these pieces contain an emotional depth which reflects the joys and sorrows of becoming an adult.  I have placed Scripture references above each title which capture the essence of my compositional intentions.  My hope is that players and listeners alike will be encouraged by these verses as they perform and listen to the various pieces contained in this collection.  You will notice that the fingerings are consistently inconsistent.  This was intentional.  The result is a neat and tidy score which empowers players to make their own interpretive decisions while encouraging the practice of sight-reading.  However, if the fingerings are followed closely, then logic will lead you to my personal preferences.  Players should assume that any pitch which can be produced by plucking an open string should be played as such (unless otherwise directed).  And finally, and in consideration of the innumerable interpretive possibilities, expressive notation has been limited.  I hope that this folio will be a blessing to you and everyone for whom you perform. 


Contents: In Your Arms, As The Deer, Crimson, Thank You, Nostalgia, Before The Throne Of God Above, Great Is Thy Faithfulness, Change, Grace, Be Thou My Vision

Be Thou My Vision (2003)

arr. Jonathan Roth

$5.95 (USD) | Page-count 8

This arrangement of Be Thou My Vision was my first attempt at composing for solo classical guitar.  It was 2003 and I was a freshman at the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, IL.  I remember sitting on my couch at home and finding this wonderful melody in a hymnal that our family kept up on the bookshelf.  The original key was E flat which does not fare well for guitar so D major seemed to be the next best option.  After the arrangement was complete, I brought it to my lesson and showed my teacher Scott Johnston.  He was excited about the piece and asked me to perform it at my guitar jury which was just around the corner.  I sketched out a rough copy of the score and took it in to the performance.  After the jurors chided me for wearing raggedy jeans, they made some nice comments about the arrangement and I left.  It was this initial encouragement that kept me composing for the classical guitar and now, looking back, I am so thankful for all of the similar encouragements God has given me along the way.

Change (2005)

Jonathan Roth

$5.95 (USD) | Page-count 8

Change was composed during my Junior year at Pepperdine University in 2005.  Like the other pieces on Meditations, this one had a similarly sporadic origin.  My Irish friend, David Creevy, was working on Stanley Myers’ Cavatina (the piece made famous in the film The Deer Hunter).  I was struck by the work’s persuasive modulations which gave it such a unique flavor.  Change began, more or less, as an experiment--exploring modulations in a similar way--but, fortunately, this work took on a personality of its own and became unified by some recurring melodic material.  Recently, my professor, Brian Head, suggested that no key signature would make for a cleaner looking score and, indeed, I discovered that, by engraving it in “C,” I was able to use fewer accidentals than any key signature which I could prescribe. However, this does make for some challenging sight reading, but, hopefully, the detailed fingerings will prove to be helpful.  Since every piece needs a title, I called this one (for obvious reasons) Change.  It never had a program.  I was simply exploring a musical landscape with my guitar.

Crimson (2003)

Jonathan Roth

$5.95 (USD) | Page-count 8

Crimson was composed sometime during my first semester at Pepperdine University in 2003.  I must have been back at my home in Chicago for a holiday since I remember writing the first few measures at Drew Fortson’s (Andrew Belle's) house.  Drew is a long-time friend of mine.  The initial title of this work was I’m Sorry, but I thought this was too direct.  Instead, I named it Crimson which was inspired by an encouraging scripture verse from the book of Isaiah.  It reads, “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD.  Though your sins are like scarlet they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” (Isaiah 1:18) Compositionally, this piece represents the first original work that I ever attempted and, subsequently, reveals a musical brand of “free association.”  The dreary key of A minor creates a morose atmosphere while never straying far from its harmonic home.  It is not until the second page of music that we hear a few pseudo-modulatory figures that bring us closer to the relative major key of C.  For me, this tonic shift symbolizes both the hopelessness of sin and the joy of forgiveness.

Grace (2004)

Jonathan Roth

$5.95 (USD) | Page-count 8

Grace was composed during the Spring and Summer of 2004.  My first semester at Pepperdine University was behind me and I had finally settled into the rhythm of college life.  I was practicing in the stairwell of the music building when my friend Kelsie Barr (Villa-Hermosa) stopped by to chat.  I ended up playing a few of my compositions for her.  She had good things to say about them, but suggested that I write something more upbeat.  I went back to my dorm and fiddled around until I came up with the first four measures. The rest of the work was composed in fragments until it was finally pieced together in early August 2004.  I was scheduled to play at Wheaton Academy’s Fine Arts Center on August 14 and added Grace to the end of the program as an encore. It was an exciting finish to the creative process.  Grace begins in the key of E minor with an intense cascade of notes and mild syncopations.  Halfway through, the piece modulates to the key of D minor and repeats a familiar theme.  The second half presents new material while building in intensity and concludes by tuning the sixth string down one whole step “in flight” to fill out the final D minor chord.  I had originally left the sixth string in standard tuning, but after playing Grace at a lesson, Christopher Parkening suggested that I tune it down. In Grace, I hope to portray the struggle between accepting God’s grace as a free gift and feeling the obligation to earn it.

In Your Arms (2003)

Jonathan Roth

$5.95 (USD) | Page-count 8

In Your Arms was composed during the summer of 2003.  I remember taking my guitar to Memorial Park in Wheaton, Illinois to play one lazy afternoon.  The piece essentially wrote itself and, in what seemed like no time at all, I was left with a brand new composition.  A couple of months later I began my sophomore year at Pepperdine University where I studied guitar with Christopher Parkening.  One evening I was practicing in the stairwell of the music building when my friend Kelsie Barr (Villa-Hermosa) dropped by to listen.  I played my new piece for her and then asked if its repetitiveness was annoying.  She told me that it was not annoying at all, but, rather, that it reminded her of rocking a baby to sleep.  That is why I named the piece In Your Arms.  Let this lullaby take you where it will and simply relax.

Thank You (2003)

Jonathan Roth

$5.95 (USD) | Page-count 8

Thank You was composed during my first year at Pepperdine University in 2003.  I had transferred in as a sophomore and was excited to study guitar under the instruction of Christopher Parkening.  Ever since I began strumming the guitar, composition has been a natural (and necessary) outlet for me.  It is not uncommon for a practice session to be interrupted by sporadic bursts of creativity.  Such an occurrence happened late one evening in Pepperdine’s music building as I played into the night.  My focus wandered from the task at hand and the notes took on a different shape.  I distinctly remember measures 34-50 breaking the silence of my small, drab practice room.  It was as if I had learned this piece years ago and was simply resurrecting it on the spot.  As my soul welled up with emotion I decided to name the piece Thank You.  This work begins in the uncharacteristic key (for guitar) of B major and drifts through a series of borrowed chords while the main theme is presented.  The development is then carried along by a mellifluous melody before embarking on an emotional journey through the parallel minor eventually returning to the beginning.  The melodic line should rise above the rolling arpeggiations and be played with conviction and gratefulness.  Thank You is a musical offering of gratitude to God for every blessing He has given me and continues to give.

Nostalgia (2005)

Jonathan Roth

$5.95 (USD) | Page-count 8

Nostalgia is a funny work in that it was pieced together over a long period of time.  The intro (mm. 1 – 9) was recorded on my digital camera under the title “Intro to some song” while the A section (mm. 10 – 26) was written some random afternoon as I hung out at my friend Tim Foster’s house. At the time, I wanted to name the piece Charlene simply because Tim’s enormous cat (whose name is Charlene) was staring at me while I fiddled around on the guitar.  I had all but forgotten about these musical fragments until one summer day when Tim pulled up an old, unfinished recording of Nostalgia on his iPod.  I needed a tenth track to round out the Meditations album so I decided to pick up where I left off and finish the piece. The B section (mm. 27 – 47) was put together during a short visit to Tim’s apartment in Huntington, Indiana.  Nostalgia uses a cross-string technique that gives the piece an expansive and blurry sound.  Every effort should be made to let the notes ring over each other unless the fingerings suggest otherwise.  Nostalgia grew out of my personal desire to embrace old friendships, places visited and memories made.  I hope that this piece brings to mind a pleasant memory from your past.

Faith Is The Reason

Rick Foster/Jonathan Roth

$24.95 (USD) | Page-count 66 | Notation + Tablature

This folio is a companion to my third sound recording: Faith Is The Reason--a joint-effort with long-time sacred music specialist, Rick Foster. The album includes many great arrangements of traditional hymns and spirituals as well as five original works. This collection began its journey on February 19, 2007 with Rick's recording of “This Is My Father’s World.” As the work progressed, he began experiencing difficulty with his right hand, eventually reaching a point in June of 2008 where he could continue no further. Believing that his hand would improve, he proceeded to work up new arrangements in hopes that, someday, he could finish the recording. But his hand did not improve. After facing the prospect of abandoning the project altogether, Rick considered finding another guitarist to finish the CD, on which he had made no progress since May 1, 2008. After considering several options, he approached Jonathan Roth with the idea of recording the rest of these classical guitar arrangements, to which Jonathan agreed to do right after finishing his D.M.A. degree from USC in May of 2011. The album was competed in September of 2011.


Contents: Because He Lives, This Is My Father’s World, Love Lifted Me, Pass Me Not O Gentle Savior, There’s Power in the Blood, I Am Thine O Lord, Alleluia, Take My Life and Let It Be, El Gozo Es Mio, Death Will Come, Faith Is The Reason, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, Near the Cross, I’m Just a Poor Wayfaring Stranger, It Is Well With My Soul, Yearning for Peace, Wade in the Water, Hope for the Delta, and Be Thou My Vision.