Above the Line Publishing was begun in the 1990s by Rima Greer as a publishing outlet for the compositions and arrangements she wrote for Campanile. Campanile was a professional touring company that presented shows with music, dancing and spoken word. The main instrument was handbells, but they also utilized percussion, woodwinds, voice, guitar, violin and bass, with keyboards and drums as backup instruments. Rima was invited to join Campanile because of her musical background; she is one of the few handbell artists who never played in a church setting.
Originally, Above the Line published only the music written for Campanile. However, Rima soon discovered that many of the top handbell composers had unpublished compositions tucked away; languishing in file cabinets because they were very difficult, very unusual or, in Rima’s words, “just plain weird – just like Campanile’s music”. She reached out to those composers and Above the Line began publishing those works in addition to the ones written for Campanile.
The decision behind what to publish boiled down to the following criteria: the music was secular in nature, it was “crazy hard”, it was “crazy weird”, had unusual instrumentation or it broke the rules in some other fashion.
One of the two concepts that originated with Rima and Campanile’s music is the 3-staff score, where the music is separated into melodic lines instead of using the traditional C5 split. The BUC (bells used chart, for those of you new to handbells) was moved from the first page of the score to the Composer’s Notes page. Campanile’s members were firm believers in keeping all the bells on the table all the time and promoting non-traditional bell assignments. Many of Campanile’s pieces include the assignments the group used – which are non-chromatic, heavy on the 4-in-Hand technique and require the bass bells to back ring.
The second concept that Above the Line pioneered was selling “master” copies with print licenses. When the company first started, it was a revolutionary idea; buy one master copy and the price included the license to print as many additional copies as needed for the group playing the piece. Nowadays, most publishers are offering similar options (here at Jeffers, we have digital downloads and site licenses available for a number of our publications). We can all thank Rima and Campanile for introducing this idea long before it was universally accepted.
Campanile retired from touring in 2006 and Rima was offered her dream job in 2009. She is now choreographing, producing and designing costumes for a ballet company, but those responsibilities didn’t leave any time for handbells, so Rima retired from bells completely. In 2016, Jeffers Handbell Supply, Inc., Inc. became a distribution partner for the Above The Line catalog, so all of your favorite music is still available for purchase.