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Topic: Amazing Grace for Concert Band Completed! (Score, MP3, and Parts.)

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  1. #1

    Amazing Grace for Concert Band Completed! (Score, MP3, and Parts.)

    In August I was commissioned to write this piece for the Catawba College Wind Ensemble in North Carolina and will be published later this year also. I will conduct this piece during its premier in November. The work is written for flute 1 and 2, oboe 1 and 2, bassoon, clarinet 1, 2, and 3, bass clarinet, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone which doubles soprano saxophone, baritone saxophone, trumpet 1 and 2, horn 1 and 2, trombone 1 and 2, euphonium, tuba, timpani, tubular bells, bass drum, suspended cymbal and crash cymbals, tam-tam, wind chimes, and triangle.


    I cannot honestly remember the last time I went through so much stress composing a composition. In the music itself it sounds as though no stress was involved, but the actual process I had to go through almost killed me. The problem was simply time and having to work so fast. Due to my baby girl still being so young at 7 months I had a time limit on when and where I could compose. I only had a couple of hours during the day at work and then if I wanted to work on it at home I had to wait until my wife and baby were asleep which was normally after 12:00 am and then had to be up again at 6 am. This piece was literally all that plagued my mind since late summer. After composing the brass and woodwind parts, the percussion parts took forever and I was limited to only 5 percussionists. I had 8 parts and had to condense it down to 5 without leaving out the color or power. Then after the final recording was finished I had to edit the score and parts. I am used to editing but not on such a strict time schedule. I had to tell myself, “You only have 20 minutes on each part.” You could only imagine how this made me feel if you knew how much of a perfectionist I am. The piece will be performed in November, it was now October and I still had the score and parts to finish. If you have never completed a score and parts before you cannot simply imagine the amount of work that is involved. I finished the scores and parts in a week just finishing last night and sent the PDF’s to the conductor today. I believe there was something like 29 separate parts playing each of them live to make sure they were playable and everyone had an awesome part. I included a link to the parts also so you could see the entire process.

    This work was inspired by Bach's use of combining well-known hymns with original melodies. This work includes a theme found in the trumpets and horns that is for my daughter Molly Aria. You will hear a little bit of her theme announced by the horns but when the original text of "Amazing Grace" would say, "Leads me Home," you hear it fully proclaimed by the trumpets representing the fact that I did not know what home truly meant until my daughter was born.

    ~Rodney MP3: https://app.box.com/s/rizzkab3qoj60zsox5xp Score: https://app.box.com/s/mwswj00k6fpjx513xemk Complete "Amazing Grace" with all the MP3, score, and parts included: https://app.box.com/s/r0t86cgb2e1kbneb79l4

  2. #2

    Re: Amazing Grace for Concert Band Completed! (Score, MP3, and Parts.)

    That's quite a production, Mister Rodney! I like it all.

    Thank you for sharing it with us. Let us hear more of your music.

    Regards,

    Larry
    Larry G. Alexander
    www.alexandermusic.com

  3. #3

    Re: Amazing Grace for Concert Band Completed! (Score, MP3, and Parts.)

    Rodney: Lovely arrangement! And that horn part, especially on page 7--whew! I like the effect. I also think it's clever to have the tenor sax double as soprano sax, cued in the alto part. Interesting treatment. Are the horn and sax treatments the result of some custom instrumentation considerations?

    Hope you don't mind my asking, but how did you render this? In a DAW?

    Congratulations, Rodney. This is really, really nice.

    Art
    Arthur J. Michaels
    https://www.facebook.com/composerarthurjmichaels

    Finale 2000 through Finales 25.4 (currently using Finale 25.4)
    Garritan COMB2, GPO4, GPO5, Audacity 2.1.3
    Core i7 860 @ 2.80 GHz, 8.0 GB RAM, Windows 10 Home Premium x64
    Dell 2408 WFP, 1920x1200
    M-Audio Delta Audiophile 2496
    M-Audio AV-40 monitors

  4. #4

    Re: Amazing Grace for Concert Band Completed! (Score, MP3, and Parts.)

    This is just fantastic. Really good use of dynamics and melodic forms. You should be really contented with this work, I know that this is a high standard of achievement for MIDI mockups. Thanks so much for sharing this great work.

  5. #5

    Re: Amazing Grace for Concert Band Completed! (Score, MP3, and Parts.)

    Hello Rodney!

    This is Magnificent! Really, great arranging all around. I especially like the emulation of the bagpipes early on and the small woodwind ensemble near the end. Amazing Grace is such a well known and frequently arranged piece of music, it could be difficult to create some that captures the sweetness and triumph of the melody while still being original. I think you have done an excellent job with this arrangement at overcoming all of those difficulties - especially while being under such a hectic schedule!

    I hope the premiere goes well, and congratulations on the publication!

    Thanks for sharing!
    Michael Obermeyer, Jr.
    youtube channel
    soundclick page

  6. #6

    Re: Amazing Grace for Concert Band Completed! (Score, MP3, and Parts.)

    As you know, Rodney, I've been waiting for this. I just now looked at the post from August when you put up an earlier version, and we talked about the "chocolate" in band arrangements. That leads me to say that the "chocolate" in your more finely tuned arrangement is lighter, more delectable, and tastier than ever.

    This folk song, the composition, is so deserving of its high ranking among people world wide. Who doesn't love "Amazing Grace"--? Your arrangement solidly presents the familiar tune in a highly emotive, soaring style designed to pull at the heart strings. I have no doubt it will succeed in just the way you want when you conduct the band in North Carolina next month.

    I keep thinking the interpolated theme you begin with is something else familiar- but I guess I'm incorrect, that's original with you, right?

    Your paragraph about the enormity of the task, and the difficult circumstances under which you did it - That's a very effective description of the difficulties scoring work can present us. And now that I've at least tiptoed into the waters of concert band work over these last several months, I really appreciate you posting scores along with the MP3. Inspiring and instructive, much appreciated.

    A question about the small bits of time you had to steal from your schedule to do this-- Were you waiting until midnight because the household demands your full attention all that time? No possibility of being available, but working with headphones on so nobody's disturbed? I'm thinking of evenings when I'm working away, and I may have to break away ever 15 minutes or half hour or whatever, but I'm getting everything done - working on music, but also cooking, spending time with my wife, chatting with friends - whatever an evening brings.

    -- I think you're saying that with your daughter so young, you did need to be 100% available until she was asleep.

    Anyway - Great to hear this - It's an excellent recording of an equally excellent adaptation and arrangement of a perennial favorite. I wish I could be in the auditorium when you yield the baton in November!

    Randy

  7. #7

    Re: Amazing Grace for Concert Band Completed! (Score, MP3, and Parts.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Larry G. Alexander View Post
    That's quite a production, Mister Rodney! I like it all.

    Thank you for sharing it with us. Let us hear more of your music.

    Regards,

    Larry
    Thank you so very much for taking the time to listen Larry. I am one of your biggest fans by the way. It's a pleasure for me that you stopped by and shared your comments and compliments. So "Let us hear more of your music." Here's one entitled "Hymn" that is in the same spirit of "Amazing Grace." It is written for brass and I have posted it at the forum before but just in case you missed it, here it is:
    ~Rodney

  8. #8

    Re: Amazing Grace for Concert Band Completed! (Score, MP3, and Parts.)

    Quote Originally Posted by gogreen1 View Post
    Rodney: Lovely arrangement! And that horn part, especially on page 7--whew! I like the effect. I also think it's clever to have the tenor sax double as soprano sax, cued in the alto part. Interesting treatment. Are the horn and sax treatments the result of some custom instrumentation considerations?

    Hope you don't mind my asking, but how did you render this? In a DAW?

    Congratulations, Rodney. This is really, really nice.

    Art
    Hello Art! Thank you so much for stopping by, listening, following the score, and commenting. Ah yes, that horn part. Warning to everyone I am about to get on my soap box, LOL. I have performed in about every ensemble imaginable from orchestras, concert bands, jazz bands, church ensembles, and even rock groups, I know the difference between what an instrument's true limitations are and when the musicians are just being lazy or simply unsure about themselves. During college, several of these instances came up concerning ranges for instruments that I wrote for. I was working with a 60 piece brass choir where the horns had to scream up to a high C. Normally pieces only require the horns to go to a Bb but I knew that horns could play it just as well because the fingering is open and the pitch is easier to hear than a Bb. One horn player said, "It will be tough but I think I can do it. Isn't there any other note we could play that will still work instead of the C?" So I took my horn, played a Latin jazz solo for about 1 minute and landed on the high C. Then with confidence I took a big breath and ripped to an 8va higher and then slurred up another 3rd on the trippa E just for good measure. Then I lowered my horn and said, "Well I wanted you to play that note but I showed you mercy." During the concert the horns were wailing their C like they've been doing for years. We were all hanging out after rehearsal and one of the euphonium players said, "You really like writing high A's for us, don't cha?" Then I look at Dan and Jack from the trumpet section and said, "Hey guys, what note do you constantly see in your part?" They said, "High B." (2 notes higher by the way,) "And can you play it?" "Every time," they said. Then I went on to tell them that a euphonium should be able to play anything a trumpet can do just and 8va lower. Here are the horns and euphoniums wailing their notes during the concert by the way: https://app.box.com/s/ve8cghjb9ar8y65c5gt0By the way I know I am sounding mean, but when you work with brass players you need to be able to talk their language. When I work with all female choirs for example, I turn into the perfect, sweet guy with manners, LOL. When I work with children I teach with Sponge Bob references. Know thy audience.
    --- So to answer you question, my friend, I will always write horns like they are the hero of the ensemble and sometimes they need to soar like Superman. If every other brass instrument is required to be able to play that pitch in their respected ranges the horns should also, especially high school and college players. Yes, I said high school also but that's another long story. For the soprano sax solo at the end I actually wanted an English Horn but the ensemble did not have a player for it. Luckily, The tenor sax player owns a soprano also which works really well since the soprano sax's timbre sounds so much like an English Horn. If he cannot play the part as well as he thinks he can, I cued it in the 1st alto which should nail it. That's how I decided to write that part. Notice that the bassoon part is cued in the bass clarinet also. At first I tried the horn part on trumpets in their comfortable range, but the horns made the part sound more heroic in the upper registers. I did not use a DAW. I simply used Finale 2011 with GPO4 and IO. Here are some things that I consider when I work with Finale and trying to render a sound recording: As a Finale user also, I feel your pain my friend. I don't have the overall answer to your dilemma but I can share with you what I do for writing for large concert band works in Finale. It's kind of weird but I will still share. Concerning reverb for concert band in Finale I simply use just the default Garritan Ambience Concert Hall 1 under the master effects located in the window VST instruments. If that's too much, just try Ballroom 1. That's all I do so I don't mess with sliders. Finale also automatically pans the instruments. The only time I adjust them is if I want an instrument to be featured. I don't have COMB2 so I simply create a concert band sound with GPO4. In concert band music you tend to want a blend, brass sound, woodwind sound, and percussion but still sound like full sections within like just trumpets. I tend to trick the ear in softer moments by not using an entire trumpet section but by blending solo 1 in unison with player 1. I do this throughout the instruments such as clarinets and flutes also. I only write the oboe parts in the mix when they are featured as a solo because in large tutti ensembles you cannot hear them anyways. For tuba I almost always use tuba solo 2. It works with both soft and loud passages. Anytime I have loud passages I will switch the Garritan brass instruments to the SAM ensembles for full loud tutti passages and back to the regular Garritan samples for softer passages. Finale comes with some COMB2 sounds such as flutes, alto saxophones and euphoniums groups. When the music is loud I use the flute group instead of the solos. I never use the saxophones. Instead I will actually blend the English horn solos with horns and you get the same alto with horn typical band effect. Unless you have solos for tenor saxophone or bari you don't need the sound in your mix. You are just looking for a blended woodwind sound. So for softer passages I will use an alto clarinet or mix bass clarinet and bassoon for a tenor sax and love using the contra bass clarinet for a bari. You just want a blended sound anyways and your ear thinks you are hearing the rumble of a bari. In finale I always have to make the euphonium group 1 dynamic louder than the rest of the ensemble to be heard.

    Something also to remember when working with producing sounds in Finale: don't try to polish a finish score if you are going for sound. Make two versions: one that looks good and one that sounds good. So for softer brass tutti sounds I use solos such as trumpet solo 1 mixed with trumpet player 1, I do this for horns and trombones also, use tuba solo 2, and add a louder dynamic to euphonium group. For louder brass tutti I use the SAM trumpet, horn, and trombone endembles, euphonium group, and still tuba 2 solo. For softer woodwinds I do the same with brass but use the expressive English horn solos for altos, and alto clarinet for the tenor sax, and contra bass clarinet for bari. I also love the blend of bass clarinet solo 1 and bassoon solo 1 together in unison. For louder passages, I keep the clarinet blends but cut out the oboes and flute solos with flute player 1. I will use the flute group for that. In loud tutti brass and woodwind ensemble make sure you can always hear the trumpets over the clarinets and flutes. Also you do not need alto saxophone for loud passages because in a real ensemble you feel the saxophones instead of hearing them. They are the warmth. You will feel that with the other woodwind blend. Plus in loud tutti passages that mix alto saxophone and horn in the score just use the horns because the loud buzz of the horns will give the listener the impression that altos are playing anyways.
    ~Rodney

  9. #9

    Re: Amazing Grace for Concert Band Completed! (Score, MP3, and Parts.)

    The rendering was from Finale with concert hall 1 ambience reverb. I also do something that isn’t traditionally recommended; I up the basses in the brass and lower their highs in softer, warmer passages. Here is a list of the instruments that I used and their settings for my rendering. All of the instruments by the way are set on stereo stage 75%.


    1. Flute solo
    2. Flute section COMB2
    3. Oboe modern solo
    4. English Horn 1 solo (for soft saxophones)
    5. English Horn 2 solo (for soft saxophones)
    6. Bassoon 1 solo
    7. Bb Clarinet solo
    8. Bb Clarinet Player 1
    9. Eb Clarinet solo (for tenor saxophone)
    10. Bass Clarinet
    11. Contrabass Clarinet (for low reed bass sound)
    12. Alto Sax Section COMB2 (during the bagpipe feature blended with SAM Trumpet Section)
    13. Trumpet 1 solo (low +12db high -12db)
    14. Trumpet Player 1 (low +12db high -12db)
    15. SAM Trumpet Section (for louder sections)
    16. Horn 1 solo and Horn 1 Player 1 on the same midi channel (for softer sections)
    17. Horn Overlay ff
    18. SAM Horn Section
    19. Trombone Player 1 (low +12db high -12db) I did not use the trombone solos because I wanted the trombones to sound almost like warm, blended horns with nothing sticking out during softer sections.
    20. Trombone Player 2 (low +12db high -12db) used during softer sections.
    21. Euphonium Section COMB2
    22. Tuba solo 2 (low +8db high -6db)
    23. Bass Drum KS (Damped the entire time)
    24. Timpani (Full Decay)
    25. Cymbals (for crash, suspended, and tam-tam)
    26. Percussion Toys (for wind chimes and triangle)
    27. Tubular Bells
    28. Orchestra Percussion Set 2 (for tam-tam rolls) Instant Orchestra

  10. #10

    Re: Amazing Grace for Concert Band Completed! (Score, MP3, and Parts.)

    I just gave a listen to your hymn from "In Remembrance", Mister Rodney. Super sonorous! Great sounds! Skillful writing! I am very impressed! Thanks for bringing it to my attention. I look forward to hearing more of your creations.

    Best,

    Larry
    Larry G. Alexander
    www.alexandermusic.com

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