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Old 12-26-2013, 07:34 PM
Sherry C's Avatar
Sherry C Sherry C is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Bad Axe, MI, USA (The Tip of the Thumb of Michigan)
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Default Re: I Saw Three Ships - for mixed band

Hi Walt,

Originally Posted by aulos43 View Post
I've been enjoying this arrangement.
Thanks It was a lot of fun to perform it live. We did end up with some changes -
  • no trumpet, so the french horn doubled for it (he put in some really cool "flair" on the french horn melody line )
  • no percussionist so I actually played my bodhran while the bari sax took over the places where the bass was providing more important "drone"
  • no piano, so I rescored a tad to add more bells
  • no clarinet - no problem as it was mostly doubled with soprano sax because it was an "iffy" anyway.
We had so much fun playing it as the "special" that the horn and flute player wanted to play it again as "heading home" music at the end of the service

Some (rather random) comments:
  • Nice excursions into quartal harmony
The soprano sax player thought it quite odd at first Then I pointed out that if she played really strong and let the flute back off a bit, that it would make sense with the bari drone supporting it. They did, and it did, to my and the bell player's delight

  • Tasty key changes
I wanted to add a bit of 'movement interest' but was not sure of all the skill levels for the different instruments we had. I figured straightforward key changes are typically pretty good for that It was fun to try and add something interesting to the bridges while maintaining a connection to the main melody. I was pretty happy with how it all came together.
  • Love the horn treatment, especially their grand entrance at m. 13
That one didn't come off quite so well as "grand" because of the missing trumpet, but the horn player did make it sound great (he took the melody for the trumpet), along with the trombone player (who also plays in my big band) - they sounded way bigger than just two guys The last four bars of unisons at the end did sound pretty cool - we were in a side room off the main sanctuary, and I could feel the floor vibrate
  • The flute counter-melody at m. 55 puts me more in mind of Keltic influence
The flautist was excellent, and really got into adding some ornamentation that I had not scored (I told everyone to do so if they felt led ). She gave that "Bach-ish" section some real Irish flair, and she sounded fantastic!
  • The bohdran part appears to be captured from live playing -- strong dance feel. (Whereas the rest of the parts appear to be entered.) May I ask how it was done?
I used one of my favorite techniques for notating, because I don't play keys worth crud for "real" notation I used a MIDI keyboard to record the rhythm (it also shows how my timing on keys is not as good as it is on bass or real bodhran ), and copy/pasted the two different measures where I wanted. If I'm scoring something that requires pitches, I still do it this way - record the rhythms first, then just use the P + Up/Down Arrow keys, adjust the pitch, Right-arrow key to the next note, fix it, etc, etc. Fairly quick, and it does preserve the "live" feel while giving playable sheet music.
  • Brilliant use of GM Tubular Bells to double GM Open Triangle (I love percussion and am perhaps a bit easily amused in that area.)
That was actually a "just in case" The bell player had a great triangle with her that sounded like a ship's bell, which was the effect I was going after. She played a glockenspiel for the bells, as well as the triangle for the intro/outro. She was definitely brilliant
  • The cue notations give the score parts a "real feel" -- it's been years since I've written for live players!
I had written those in for myself initially, because I wasn't sure how much vocal "directing" I was going to need to do. I then thought that others might find them helpful, so included them on all the parts where the musician would not be playing. Many did comment that they found them helpful

I myself have never written for that sort of mix (I have done a couple of arrangements for our big band), so it was a new venture for me. Everyone seemed to enjoy it, and my friend who asked me to arrange has already said she has some ideas for next time we play together.

Thanks for the encouragement, and I'm glad that you're enjoying it. I did not get a recording of the performance, but might try doing an mp3 using my GPO library.

Music is to the soul like water is to green growing things.
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