About

Life makes art.

Vandalia River is the creative outlet of R. Hall, a pianist, songwriter, and music teacher in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. 

You'll find here original music and a weekly blog with thoughts on music, music in the home, and the Christian life. 

You can also listen to the music of Vandalia River wherever you stream or download.

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Battlescapes

Vandalia River

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Battlescapes

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Using folklike themes with subtle drama, this collection of six solo piano pieces evokes the natural beauty of historic Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, while respecting the somber aspects of its Civil War history. Listen to Battlescapes on iTunes/Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon, and other streaming services. 

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    Schoolhouse Ridge

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    Murphy Farm

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    Lower Town

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    The Heights

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    Virginius Island

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    The Confluence (Like a River Glorious)

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Lyrical Songs

Heaven and Earth: Scripture Songs for the Old and New

R. Hall, featuring Kellan Gash

Acoustic, catchy, and mostly not annoying: these songs are the home-grown product of a church Scripture memory program. After a long process of writing and refining, vocalist Kellan Gash and sound engineer Derryck Birt helped R. Hall bring the album to the next level.

​Now these songs are a gift to you. Listen, use, and share without compulsion to pay. A PDF of chord sheets is included in the album download.

Also available on many streaming platforms, including Spotify and YouTube!

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If you like what you hear, I'd love to send you news and blog updates every Friday.

From the blog

Songs that fascinate me 

Sometimes certain songs become a kind of study. Here are a few that have my attention either because of the composition, mix, or instrumentation. 

“Siren” by Samuel Sim was the theme music to the British Home Fires series. A female vocal ensemble layers haunting parts with spare accompaniment from rhythmic strings. This piece opened my eyes to the under-used potential of smaller female vocal ensembles. 

“Carol of the Russian Children,” as arranged by the Singers Unlimited, is another enchanting example…

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Poem for a birthday 

The poetry of Christina Rossetti doesn’t tower like that of some others in the British tradition, but it has a pointed strength nonetheless. My eyes fell on her short “A Birthday” in early 2018. 

My heart is like a singing bird 
                  Whose nest is in a water'd shoot; 
My heart is like an apple-tree 
                  Whose boughs are bent with thickset fruit; 
My heart is like a rainbow shell 
                  That paddles in a halcyon sea; 
My heart is gladder than all these 

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Music is a servant 

Music is a servant. Sometimes it is center-stage, but usually it’s supplementing some other thing. It’s the soundtrack to a film, or the animator of a dance, or the atmosphere of a party, or the distraction-soothing ambience of the office. 

But even when it is center-stage, music is still a servant. When a performer walks onto the platform and sings, all eyes may be on him, but neither he nor his song is the purpose of the event. They’re just the means to the real purpose: delighting the audience. Souls…

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Wrapping up winter break 

The collective wisdom of successful songwriters and producers seems to be quantity. Make stuff. You’ve got to craft stuff to craft better. I also once read an exchange that went something like this:

“I have some ideas that would make really great poems, but I can’t bring them together.”

Replies successful poet, “Poems are made with words, not ideas.”

Likewise, songs are made of music, not ideas (or mere hooks). So winter break at Vandalia River has been spent turning song ideas written in pencil into WAV…

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