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Songbook Review: Swim To America, Vol. 2 (une rétrospective Stephan Eicher au piano)
Doug Hammer
Cover image of the songbook Swim To America, Vol. 2 (une rétrospective Stephan Eicher au piano) by Doug Hammer
Swim To America, Vol. 2 (une rétrospective Stephan Eicher au piano)
Doug Hammer
2024 / Dreamworld Productions
50 pages / 13 songs
Review by Kathy Parsons
Swim To America, Volume 2 (une rétrospective Stephan Eicher au piano) is the companion sheet music collection for Doug Hammer's 2023 recording by the same name. The second in a series of three albums and songbooks, Doug did the transcriptions of all thirteen pieces from the album and I proof-read them, so I can honestly say that the sheet music matches the recordings as closely as is possible. If you are not familiar with the Swim To America series, Doug's quote explains how it began:

"Time, two continents separated by a big ocean, a pandemic and the perfect alignment of circumstances organically grew a three year project which became Swim to America. I arranged my favorite songs of Stephan Eicher, breathing his voice through my fingers and making them my own."

Doug and I agree that some of the pieces in the Vol. 2 collection are more difficult than those in the Vol. 1 collection, but once you are familiar with the recordings, many of the more complicated rhythms are much easier to "feel" (rather than having to methodically count them out). Doug has the pieces ranked as "easy," "intermediate," and "challenging" on his website, so you might want to check those for reference.

I also want to mention that Doug has a very wide span with both hands, and some of the pieces have chords with reaches of a tenth. If you are puzzled about how to handle those, try rolling the chords or playing octaves; sometimes the top or bottom notes are reachable with the other hand. Just don't give up on the pieces if there are chords you can't reach (I used to avoid those all the time!) - adjust the notes you need to adjust so that the chords fit your own hands.

There is a very interesting variety in the thirteen pieces - from slow and melancholy to more upbeat and fun. Since the songs were originally sung, the melodies are strong and distinctive. It's a fascinating collection, and I highly recommend it!

Doug is offering the complete digital songbooks (PDF downloads) as well as individual pieces (also PDFs) to download on his website.

The titles of the pieces, the key(s) they are in, and the number of pages are:

Confettis - Key of D (s sharps) - 5 pages
Pas d'ami (comme toi) - Key of A (3 sharps) - 4 pages
Combien de temps - Key of Db (5 flats) - 5 pages
Rivière - Key of E minor (1 sharp) - 4 pages
Wider Da - Key of F (1 flat) - 4 pages
Rien n'est si bon - Key of G (1 sharp) - 4 pages
Clear My Throat - Key of A minor (0 sharps or flats) - 3 pages
Je n'attendrai pas - Key of C (0 sharps or flats) - 2 pages
Monsieur - Je ne sais pas trop - Key of G (1 sharp) - 4 pages
Rêverie - Key of E minor (1 sharp) - 3 1/2 pages
Où Sont Les Clés? - Key of Bb minor (5 flats) - 3 pages
Du - Key of Db (5 flats) - 2 pages
Wie Einem Der Gewissheit Hat - Key of E minor (1 sharp) - 2 pages
June 25, 2024
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