The Twelve Days of Christmas – Simplified

If, like me, you’ve found yourself repeatedly performing The 12 Days of Christmas over the last few days, you’re probably in search of some way of remembering where you are in the score. After all, most scores make much use of repeats to keep the page count down, so when you’re performing the song for thirty fifth-time it’s easy for the attention to wander and to lose track of where you are.

The following is an attempt to provide a simple aide-mémoire that will help you keep your place.

  1. The song consists of 12 verses. Let n = the current verse
  2. For n = 1, play the phrase as written.
  3. For 1 < n < 5, there is a repeating phrase on the present count. (Three French Hens, Two Turtle Doves etc.) Repeat this phrase (n-1) times.
  4. When n = 5, play the phrase for the current present and then repeat the subsequent present phrase 3 times
  5. For n > 5, repeat the present phrase (n-6) times, then play case n = 5

This can summarized as follows

* For n < 5, repeat the phrase (n-1) times
* For n = 5, play as written, then repeat next phrase 3 times
* For n > 5, repeat the phrase (n-6) times, then goto case n = 5

Incidentally, my carol book has a tempo of crotchet = 132. In order to maximize jollity, this tempo should be varied according to the formula

crotchet = 132 + 2(n-1)

thus ensuring a steadily increasing pace that increases the excitement of the singers.

Tip: if time prohibits a full performance, simply play a selection of verses such that n is a prime number

And there you have it. Festive fun delivered in a rational and logical manner.

Merry Christmas.

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