View RSS Feed

davewerden

Music Should Be Fun - And So Should Arranging

Rate this Entry
If you are reading this blog, you are probably a musician. And if you are a musician, you probably stay with music (either as a hobby or profession) because you enjoy it, right? It's certainly true for me.


I'm mentally composing an article for a later time about enjoying playing AND practicing music. But for today's post I'd like to focus on the fun of writing/arranging music.


I've been writing arrangements since I was in college. And sometime several years after that, my arrangements actually started sounding good. Truth be told, I ALWAYS enjoy arranging. It's a little like doing a puzzle - how do you make a piece for full orchestra sound right when played by a euphonium-tuba quartet? How can I keep the harmonies sounding clear without putting the top parts in the stratosphere? How can I work it out so that every player in the ensemble has an interesting part? And so on.


But this past year I have had an especially fine time! For one thing I got back to pencil and paper to do the drafts. It seems less efficient, doesn't it? If I could only draft it using Finale, then I can just tweak it right there. Otherwise I write the whole thing out in pencil (well, "scribble" might be a better word) and then I still have to enter it into Finale. But I find that I think more freely using pencil and paper. I'm not thinking about layouts, formats, etc. - just the notes. It was a nice reminder about how well "old technology" can work.


This Fall I set out to do a few arrangements that were even more fun than usual. I chose some "novelty" songs that were written around the turn of the century (the previous one, not the one from just 10 years ago). They were great fun to arrange, and have the potential to be great fun to play, too.


First was "Daddy Wouldn't Buy Me a Bow-Wow" by Tabrar. The original song was a tale of a young child who wanted a dog, but whose father would not buy one (maybe you figured that out already). The composer made the melodies fit the lyrics, which are at the end of this post. As with the other songs discussed here, arranging a novelty song like this means one can be a bit more "cute" in the shaping of lines, articulations, etc. I have no doubt, given the imagination of many groups, that some might have a little more "programmatic" fun during performances.


Then I wanted to do "Learning McFadden to Waltz" by Carey. Here we have the story of a man who wanted to learn to dance, but who was "blessed" with feet too large to seem dance-able. Look at the lyrics below to get an idea. I decided to guild the lily and write a little more graphic "learning curve" into the arrangement. The first time through the chorus, I wrote the solo tuba waaaaay off the 3/4 beat. But by the final chorus, the tuba solo waltzes easily along with rest of the ensemble. Here is an audio file, which was thrown together quickly but might give you an idea of the piece: Learning McFadden to Waltz


Last on this list was "Mosquitoes' Parade" by Whitney. This one has no lyrics, but a very clever melody that works well when set in a ponderous mode. So I renamed it to "Parade of the Giant Mosquitoes" to fit the low brass medium. It is basically a march in 6/8 time with engaging harmonies that help move the verses along.


What's next? Stay tuned, because soon I'll have a new arrangement that will be just as much fun, but will be a little more traditional musically. And probably later this summer I'll have a nice new solo/piano piece ready.


Below are links to the pieces and the promised lyrics. I hope groups enjoy playing them as much as I enjoyed writing them!


Daddy Wouldn't Buy Me a Bow-Wow


Parade of the Giant Mosquitoes


Learning McFadden to Waltz


Daddy Wouldn't Buy Me a Bow-Bow


I love my little cat, I do

With soft black silky hair

It comes with me each day to school

And sits upon the chair

When teacher says "why do you bring

That little pet of yours?"

I tell her that I bring my cat

Along with me because


Daddy wouldn't buy me a bow-wow! bow wow!

Daddy wouldn't buy me a bow-wow! bow wow!

I've got a little cat

And I'm very fond of that

But I'd rather have a bow-wow

Wow, wow, wow, wow


We used to have two tiny dogs

Such pretty little dears

But daddy sold 'em 'cause they used

To bite each other's ears

I cried all day, at eight each night

Papa sent me to bed

When Ma came home and wiped my eyes

I cried again and said


Daddy wouldn't buy me a bow-wow! bow wow!

Daddy wouldn't buy me a bow-wow! bow wow!

I've got a little cat

And I'm very fond of that

But I'd rather have a bow-wow

Wow, wow, wow, wow


I'll be so glad when I get old

To do just as I "likes"

I'll keep a parrot and at least

A half a dozen tykes

And when I've got a tiny pet

I'll kiss the little thing

Then put it in its little cot

And on to it I'll sing


Daddy wouldn't buy me a bow-wow! bow wow!

Daddy wouldn't buy me a bow-wow! bow wow!

I've got a little cat

And I'm very fond of that

But I'd rather have a bow-wow

Wow, wow, wow, wow



Learning McFadden to Waltz


Now Terrence McFadden he wanted to waltz

But his feet were not gauged that way

So he saw a professor and stated his case

Said he "Sure I'm willing to pay"

The professor looked down in alarm at his feet

And he viewed their enormous expanse

Then he tacked on a five to his regular price

For teaching McFadden to dance


Chorus:

Oh, one, two, three, balance like me

You're quite a dancer but you have your faults

Your left foot is lazy, your right foot is crazy

But don't be uneasy I'll teach you to waltz


He took out McFadden before the whole class

And he showed him the steps once or twice

But McFadden's big feet got tied up in a knot

Sure, he thought he was standing on ice

At last he broke loose and struck out with a will

Never looking behind or before

But his head got so dizzy he fell on his face

And chewed half the wax off the floor


Chorus


When Terrence had practiced the steps once or twice

Sure he thought he had put them down fine

He went to a girl and he asked her to dance

And wheeled her out into the line

He walked on her feet and he fractured her toes

And said that her movements were false

Sure the poor girl went 'round for two weeks on a crutch

For learning McFadden to waltz


Chorus


Submit "Music Should Be Fun - And So Should Arranging" to Digg Submit "Music Should Be Fun - And So Should Arranging" to del.icio.us Submit "Music Should Be Fun - And So Should Arranging" to StumbleUpon Submit "Music Should Be Fun - And So Should Arranging" to Google

Comments