Here's a day in my life. So I was asked by a church to arrange "Carol of the Bells" for 2 part choir, handbells, and brass quintet which is 2 trumpets, horn, trombone, and tuba. The tuba player had to bail out due to personal family issues, but they said they did have another trumpet player. So now my solid foundation is not there, and they are offering me another "soprano" voice. So how would you rearrange this to still sound full?
Ignore how this rendering sounds concerning quality. I literally simply did this as a quick mock-up with no editing or regards for a finished sound. The "choir" singing is just a mock-up also, of course.
Hey Rod , A power rendition no doubt, of a generally more tender tune.
If the church doesn't go for it, it could make an excellent
background for an Anonymous video. RS
Rodney, I listened to this again this evening, It was about 5 am this morning
when I first listened and it was a bit much as an eye opener(instead of coffee)
I really like the arrangement you did and I guess tender was a poor choice of words.
I still do think tho' that the bassier part could start a feeding frenzy in a shark tank
and I thought the trumpets work just fine. By tender I meant more omenous than redemptive.
Good job tho' for sure... RS
roger stancill said:
Not sure the level of performers you have to work with, so if this is a situation of "has to be easy to be good fast", then the arrangement works. But.....
You have three choirs that each have been assigned an established role.
1) Bells doing the bell part
2) Choir doing the lyrics
3) Brass adding the block chords, color lines and counter melodies as well as giving the impact.
The problem is these roles never seem to change. Where is the section of just brass? Or the choir only? How about letting the bell choir do the counter melodies? Possibly interweave all three, especially during the "merry, merry, merry Christmas" phrase.
To me, the piece never changes in terms of voicings. you have some really nice counter melodies happening in the brass, maybe you could share some of these with the other choirs. This may help take the arrangement out of the box so to speak.
Again, on Dec 4, time frame may be an issue for the ensemble to do a more advanced arrangement, and I understand that.
As to the loss of a tuba, sometimes you have to play the hand you're dealt. In that respect, you did an admirable job. ( kind of like writing for the HS Band with 27 flutes, 2 tbones, no tuba and 67 drummers, er percussionists)
Nice job overall.
It's funny you mentioned you have a metal version, I once wrote Carol of the Bells for a school that featured drums, guitars, African drums, and keyboards. I would love to hear your version, and I believe in your analysis of the flow of the carol also.
I want the horn to take center stage there even if they cover up the singers. It's almost a personal joke to myself thinking singers get too much attention as it is. If you look at their part it says solo just like the trumpet solo before. I think on a subconscious level I've never wrote a "main part and accompaniment" piece. I always want to give everyone a little feature or "lick" even if it's just for a moment or even barely noticeable. Anyways, that's just me thinking out loud. It was funny listening to the rehearsals because everyone thought they had the melody.
The original does build up in thirds but only from the 3rd scale degree to the 5th. My arrangement does the same thing but probably is more hidden due to the first vocal part and the 1st trumpet part calling and answering each other with the 5th scale degree near the end of the choruses. It's also almost like the trumpet player saying, "Hey singers I can play it with more emotion than you can!" You can really hear that 5th scale degree though in the trombone part in the build-up at the end when they jump the third building a little bit more hyper tension to the line.
Thanks again, Bob for the comments, compliments, and your thoughts!
I would make this tune a three minute crescendo. Start with one voice humming the melody, add the second voice with the thirds, then add single bell accents. Sing a verse with brass playing quietly to hear the words. Then increase volume add descants and bass parts. I liked your ending with choir, which would come after the big climax.
So in short, yes I would like to make a true piece out of this work, maybe one day when I write a complete Christmas cantata when I'm 80 and done with all my other writing goals but this time performance level and time where against me. It was easy also to just tell the ensemble, "Hey you know what you played, or sung, earlier? Just do it again but longer this time with this added..." Then I would take care of the little variations through orchestration. Thank you for your great comments. They are always a joy to read!
Tim Marko said:
Lawrence Aurich said:
roger stancill said:
Like Bob, this is one of my all-time favourite pieces.
Besides being a keyboard player and a clarinetist, I play all brass instruments, from tuba to piccolo trumpet. I also research and write about period brasswinds. So I might be able to tell you a few useful things about brass.
Firstly- there is no substitute for a bass (tuba, helicon, "Sousaphone", bass Saxhorn). The thing about tenor trombone is that it is a tenor instrument. Pedals played on the tenor are thin and cutting, and don't deliver a really good bottom end. The bass trombone is a very different animal from the tenor, and even though a tenor with an F trigger is capable of playing in the same range, it's a lot of work with limited results.
Even the bass trombone has its limitations, because it's not really a bass instrument. You talk to any player and he'll tell you that he approaches it like a tenor instrument a good deal of the time.
It's the contrabass trombone that's a real bass instrument, but good luck finding one.
If you've an organ handy, I'd suggest writing a simple part for that, including doubling bass in the left hand and pedals. Organ and brass go together like boys and men in Greece. Virtually inseparable. Too close for comfort.