2nd Annual Carol Slam!

Welcome to the blog of the Portland Maine Carol Slam.

What is a carol slam? It’s like a poetry slam or story slam, but for carols. Composers will write original carols. A house choir will perform them for a cafe audience (you!). The audience will pick the best carol. The winning composer will get a wreath.

The goal is to inspire new holiday carols, as an antidote to the same old stuff every year. The first ever carol slam in 2012 was a . We had great new carols, a great choir, and a great crowd.

The second annual Carol Slam will take place on Saturday, December 21st, 2013 at 3:30pm, at Bull Feeney’s in Portland’s Old Port.

Check out the other posts here on the blog to learn more. If you’re a singer, you can join the house choir. If you’re a composer, you can write a new carol. If you’re both, do both! If you’re not, come anyway and help pick the best carol.

Anything else? Get in touch.




Here are some Carol Slam posters! They feature Father Christmas with a wassailing bowl, riding upon a Yule Goat.

This poster is a call for composers and singers:

(here is a pdf)

This poster is a general advertisement.  I’ll update it when I announce the Carol Slam venue:

(here is a pdf)


Call for Singers

The Portland Carol Slam seeks singers to join the Carol Slam house choir.  The house choir will be SATB and will perform all the new carols during the slam event.

If you would like to sing with the house choir please email Ben at portlandcarolslam@gmail.com. I’d love to hear from you.

Please plan to meet three times for singing.  On Friday, December 21st 2012, at 5:30pm, we will do a first read through of all the new carols.

On Saturday, December 22nd 2012, at 1:30pm, we will do a final read through of all the new carols.

Then we will perform during the slam event 3:30-5:30pm.

We won’t have a lot of time to rehearse the new music, so get excited to read notes and go for it!


Carol Guidelines

So you want to write a carol?  Great!  It will be beautiful.

I you are on the fence, remember what Glenn Gould said: the only way to write one is just to plunge right in and write one!

Here are some guidelines for Carol Slam carols.

Original The goal of the Carol Slam is to generate new holiday carols, so please write something new for the event.

Easy Carols should be fun for everyone to sing, so take it easy.  Consider it a challenge to write interesting music, without using strange notation or virtuoso techniques.

SATB or Melody with Chords A house ensemble will perform all the carols, so you should write with them in mind.  The choir will be four-part SATB. There will also be a small reed organ (a merry organ!) for playing chords.  You should write four-part harmony/counterpoint, or notate a melody with chord symbols.

Seasonal Your carol should be winter-seasonal, whatever that means to you.  Sacred, secular, post-modern–all welcome!

Format PDF files are the best.  You can use notation software like Finale or Sibelius, or engraving software like LilyPond.  You can also write by hand and scan it.  Just write clearly, so that the house choir (and others!) can read your carol easily.

December 20th Please email your carol to Ben at portlandcarolslam@gmail.com by Thursday December 20th, 2012. The house choir needs to read through it before the Carol Slam.

Copyrights Please use a public domain text, or obtain permission from your text’s author or copyright holder.  Or write your own text!  Here are a few possible texts. Also, please allow your new carol to enter the public domain, for all to enjoy.



Want to compose a carol?  Want to sing with the house choir?  Have a question?

Please contact Audrey for all things Carol Slam: portlandcarolslam@gmail.com or audrey.morton22@gmail.com.

Ben Heasly the founder of CarolSlam is a Portland native. He grew up in Stroudwater and did lots of singing at Woodfords church, and Deering High School, and in college. He now lives in the Oakdale neighborhood and is a grad student at USM.