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Topic: "Amazing Grace" Project for Concert Band (Need Some Help)

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  1. #1

    "Amazing Grace" Project for Concert Band (Need Some Help)

    Hey guys, I've been working on a piece based on the beloved hymn "Amazing Grace" for a college. This work was inspired by the works of J. S. Bach. Bach would take popular hymns and weave his own melodies complimenting them throughout. It will be in two different versions: one for concert band and one for marching band. I have been working on the version for concert band since May without any issues enjoying the entire process, but recently the work popped up a major issue concerning the transition from the sweet oboe melody to the bagpipe effect. I have been working on just the brass and woodwind parts with the intent of adding percussion after I have finished. I let my friend Dan listened to the work and he said the bagpipe effect just seemed to happen out of nowhere, and I probably need a smoother transition. I worked on the transition for the past 2 days, it's just 4 simple measures, and it's starting to drive me a little crazy. Here's the issue: after the flute solo there is a sweet moment with the oboe, bassoon, and bass clarinet but the music has to crescendo to a harsh bagpipe effect with alto saxophones and trumpets. So I added the horns, trombones, and euphoniums but is it still too much and too sudden or does it work already? Before I add the percussion parts I need to figure out this puzzle. Thanks guys. https://www.box.com/s/94pi5u7stba448ehn4qy
    Instruments that I used:

    1. Flute solo KS
    2. Flute Section
    3. Oboe 1 Modern Solo
    4. English Horn 1 Solo
    5. English Horn 2 Solo
    6. Bassoon 1 Solo
    7. Bb Clarinet Solo
    8. Bb Clarinet Player 1
    9. Eb Clarinet Solo
    10. Bass Clarinet Solo
    11. Contrabass Clarinet Solo
    12. Alto Saxophone Section
    13. French Horn Solo 1 KS
    14. French Horn 1 Player 1
    15. SAM Horn Section KS
    16. Trumpet 1 Solo KS
    17. Trumpet 1 Player 1 KS
    18. SAM Trumpet Section
    19. Trombone Player 1 KS
    20. Trombone Player 2 KS
    21. SAM Trombone Section
    22. Euphonium Section
    23. Tuba 2 Solo

    ~Rodney

  2. #2

    Re: "Amazing Grace" Project for Concert Band (Need Some Help)

    Sounds really nice. If faced with the problem you mention, I'd remove that crescendo of the brass you added - its accentuating the issue even more.

    To transition to the bag pipes, I would end the previous phase with a long dim. sustain - the bag pipes would need to be a new verse/chorus, and the listener would and should expect something new if you give the feeling of ending the previous phrase.
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  3. #3

    Re: "Amazing Grace" Project for Concert Band (Need Some Help)

    Quote Originally Posted by Plowking View Post
    Sounds really nice. If faced with the problem you mention, I'd remove that crescendo of the brass you added - its accentuating the issue even more.

    To transition to the bag pipes, I would end the previous phase with a long dim. sustain - the bag pipes would need to be a new verse/chorus, and the listener would and should expect something new if you give the feeling of ending the previous phrase.
    Thank you for listening and taking the time to comment. The only issue with your suggestions is that I want the piece to feel like it's building and building and when the "bagpipe effect" comes in the percussion such as snare drum, bass drum, cymbals, etc. will come in also with a bang. I actually did try what you recommended yesterday on my own with the woodwinds leading to the "bagpipes" softly.

  4. #4

    Re: "Amazing Grace" Project for Concert Band (Need Some Help)

    In that case, do you have the option to do a sustained cymbal crescendo across the transition? I'm assuming you want to mask the cutting off of the crescendo as the bag pipes play? The cymbal should carry into the bag pipes beginning and be loud enough to carry the transition as the cymbal fades.

    If you've already tried it then I'm not sure, I would have to have the situation in front of me to solve it from then on.
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  5. #5

    Re: "Amazing Grace" Project for Concert Band (Need Some Help)

    Quote Originally Posted by Plowking View Post
    In that case, do you have the option to do a sustained cymbal crescendo across the transition? I'm assuming you want to mask the cutting off of the crescendo as the bag pipes play? The cymbal should carry into the bag pipes beginning and be loud enough to carry the transition as the cymbal fades.

    If you've already tried it then I'm not sure, I would have to have the situation in front of me to solve it from then on.
    That's probably what's missing! Yes, GPO has a couple of suspended cymbal rolls to try out. So percussion to the rescue!

  6. #6

    Re: "Amazing Grace" Project for Concert Band (Need Some Help)

    ---Oh, I left this page open as I wrote the draft for my response, now I see there are newer replies. OH well, haven't read them yet - I'll just post what I wrote earlier anyway:
    ---------------------------
    Nice - I remember when you posted an earlier version of this, Rodney. To adapt it for bands is a very worthy project. I prefer this song as an instrumental, so I'm happy to be hearing it again.

    That's such a nice additional motif you start with and use throughout. I've always liked that. It's the sort of theme that puts a capital "S" on Stirring.

    An arrangement changes dramatically when percussion is added, like you'll be doing with this. Are you sure what you have in this current MP3 doesn't work at the trouble spot when percussion is added, "coming in with a bang," as you described?

    Well, but one idea came to me as I played that transition several times. How about a measure of silence before the "bagpipes," leaving that thick brass chord hanging in the air with the sudden cut off, and then on the 3rd beat (of the silent measure), your percussion comes rolling in swiftly, at least a timpani roll with suspended cymbal roll, cutting off abruptly on the first measure of bagpipes? There's an idea anyway.

    Thanks for letting us in on the development process - That makes for an especially fun thread.

    Randy

  7. #7
    Senior Member tedvanya's Avatar
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    Re: "Amazing Grace" Project for Concert Band (Need Some Help)

    I guess my ears are getting bad or I am not sophisticated enough, so the transition does not bother me, even repeated listening I could not find anything wrong with it.
    But, being an old organist, I would love to hear this on an organ, not just because you mentioned JSB but because you have a wonderful piece for a nice organ. If you would consider it, send me a MIDI file, and I would love to try it. I would just send it to you if I succeed, just for fun...
    I love the last few bars very much....brilliant!!!!

    Ted

  8. #8

    Re: "Amazing Grace" Project for Concert Band (Need Some Help)

    Quote Originally Posted by tedvanya View Post
    I guess my ears are getting bad or I am not sophisticated enough, so the transition does not bother me, even repeated listening I could not find anything wrong with it.
    But, being an old organist, I would love to hear this on an organ, not just because you mentioned JSB but because you have a wonderful piece for a nice organ. If you would consider it, send me a MIDI file, and I would love to try it. I would just send it to you if I succeed, just for fun...
    I love the last few bars very much....brilliant!!!!

    Ted
    Boom! Deal, my friend. Just let me know where you would like me to send the midi file to. You are not the first person to say that this would work for organ, and it would be so great for an actual organist to do this also. Wonderful. I love the last bars also. Thank you for the compliments. I simply used the rules of counter-point all in my head because dummy me left my midi controller in my studio some 40 minutes away. ~Rodney

  9. #9

    Re: "Amazing Grace" Project for Concert Band (Need Some Help)

    Quote Originally Posted by rbowser- View Post
    ---Oh, I left this page open as I wrote the draft for my response, now I see there are newer replies. OH well, haven't read them yet - I'll just post what I wrote earlier anyway:
    ---------------------------
    Nice - I remember when you posted an earlier version of this, Rodney. To adapt it for bands is a very worthy project. I prefer this song as an instrumental, so I'm happy to be hearing it again.

    That's such a nice additional motif you start with and use throughout. I've always liked that. It's the sort of theme that puts a capital "S" on Stirring.

    An arrangement changes dramatically when percussion is added, like you'll be doing with this. Are you sure what you have in this current MP3 doesn't work at the trouble spot when percussion is added, "coming in with a bang," as you described?

    Well, but one idea came to me as I played that transition several times. How about a measure of silence before the "bagpipes," leaving that thick brass chord hanging in the air with the sudden cut off, and then on the 3rd beat (of the silent measure), your percussion comes rolling in swiftly, at least a timpani roll with suspended cymbal roll, cutting off abruptly on the first measure of bagpipes? There's an idea anyway.

    Thanks for letting us in on the development process - That makes for an especially fun thread.

    Randy
    Randy, my man, thank you for listening and commenting. You have possessed my mind now whenever I compose, because now I always say, "I wonder what Randy is going to say about this one?" Yes, over a year or so ago I posted a version but it sounded much harsher and heavily articulated. Several people said that they would like to hear a higher instrument so that's why now I featured the flute. I am happy to hear that you like instrumental versions of this song because to me it has such a strong melody that is instantly recognizable with nostalgic feelings. Thank you for enjoying my stirring motif. I like how you said it. I wanted to evoke the same feelings as in Bach's "When Sheep Safely Grace," "Sleeper's Awake," and of course "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring." Bach uses the main hymn or choral and then adds his own. Thank you also for your comments with the percussion. Percussion surely does change an entire work. To me when I write a band piece you have to compose the work 2 times: once for the winds and one more time for the percussion and this time it is making me both nervous and excited at the same time. I will definitely think about your creative solutions to my problem. I've been listening to the transition over and over again all today. Now I can hear in my head a percussion crescendo with the brass swell leading to a crash of sound, but who knows how it will turn out in these next few days. I am going to try everyone's suggestions and I thank you all.

  10. #10

    Re: "Amazing Grace" Project for Concert Band (Need Some Help)

    Hey Rodney! This sounds really good to me. I don't in the least think that the bagpipes are presented in an abrupt way. I personally hate bagpipes, but your usage here is very effective to the overall sound. This is a nice post. Thanks. Jay

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