04 Juli 2015

Two New Arrangements

An in-depth description of two new piano arrangements for the Christmas season.

 Lately I have been concentrating on music for the Christmas season.  I have a classical and jazz background, however, lately I have been concentrating my efforts in the area of jazz.

My most recent arrangement, “Jolly Old St. Nicholas”  is a completely jazz effort.  I started the arrangement in a bluesy fashion that evolved into a soft, laid back jazz sound with a walking bass accompaniment. I finished out the arrangement with a stride bass.  The styles are older and in some cases cliché, but I didn’t strive to update or change that aspect since it created, for me, a certain charm in this particular song.  “Jolly Old St. Nicholas” has a cool, sexy, smoky bar, tongue-in-cheek sound.  “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” is a different story.

For the arrangement of “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” , I decided to start it out in a chordal fashion, similar to the arrangements you often hear.  I changed, however, many of the harmonies and added some syncopation to freshen it up.  Many of the harmonies are jazz related.  I also decided to add some harmony during the portion of the hymn that has a single repeated note that is always left unharmonized.  I was never really particularly fond of that part of the song and I wanted to do something different.  I decided to use open 4ths and 5ths to incorporate the harmony I wanted to use and yet leave hints to the character of the way the original was handled intact.

I went on to the second section and created an “apparent” increase in tempo through the use of 16th notes as the predominant mode of locomotion.  The melody in the first section of this part switches between the hands quite a bit before finally settling in to the right hand.  I kept the harmonies from the first section intact throughout this second section that has a definite classical sound.  Since the next section has a laid back jazz feel, I used longer notes at the cadence to slow the piece down.  Performers should be careful to maintain a steady pulse through this cadence.  Despite incorporating jazz harmonies into the first two sections, they maintain a basically classical feel.  I changed that completely with the final section by moving to a swing feel.  The harmonies are still the same, however, with a swing feel and the jazz fills, the third section is definitely jazz.  This section provides a really nice, light contrast to the first two sections and completes the arrangement.

 

 

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