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Topic: The Gotham Knight Marching Band Show

  1. #1

    The Gotham Knight Marching Band Show

    Hey everyone,

    I just finished a Marching Band show that I got asked to write this year. We decided to do the music from Tim Burton's original Batman film.

    Scores aren't readily available for these type of things, so I had to transcribe them by ear. It's good to see that my ear training and dictation skills have not atrophied!!

    Anyway, here's the score (PDF file)


    Here's the Mp3


    I wrote and recorded this using Sibelius 4 with the GPO Crossover Edition. I needed descnt sounding Marching Percussion, so I ran Finale's (Yes, I own both!!) MakeMusic Soundfont with my Soundblaster Audigy 2 soundcard. I wanted to use Sibelius 5, but the good people over there informed me that I missed the free upgrade from 4 to 5 by a week. DOH!!!!

    I imported the MP3 into Sonar Home Studio 6XL to Mix and add reverb. As in most high school marching bands, the percussion is obnoxiously loud, but that's the way we like it!!

    Anyway, let me know what you think.

    For more information, check out www.jonathoncox.com/intro.html

    "The trouble with music appreciation in general is that people are taught to have too much respect for music they should be taught to love it instead." - Igor Stravinsky

  2. #2

    Re: The Gotham Knight Marching Band Show

    Hi Jonny,

    that is cool!

    I don`t know the original music but what I hear here sounds great!

    Transcribe by ear is always very interesting, because one can learn a lot... .
    It would be interesting how this score would sound with Gary`s new Marchingband-Library

    My Best,

    "Music is the shorthand of emotion." Leo Tolstoy

    Listen to me, tuning my triangle http://www.box.net/shared/ae822u6r3i

  3. #3

    Re: The Gotham Knight Marching Band Show

    Hi, Jonny

    I've been a die-hard Batman fan since I was a child--since Way before the modern film versions, even before the satirical TV series--!--So I was delighted to see a piece here inspired by The Caped Crusader, The Gotham Knight, The Bat-Man (original spelling) himself!

    It's curious that you said this is "...from Tim Burton's original Batman film..." without giving credit to composer Danny Elfman. It's not Tim Burton's music, but Elfman's.

    I also don't understand why you said "...I got asked to write this year. We decided to do..." when you didn't do any writing on this. You were apparently asked to provide scores for the marching band, and you took on the not-easy and admirably done job of working by ear to come up with this. But that's not writing--You transcribed an already existing composition.

    I take it, from the way you haven't used "Batman" in the title, that there are some dicey-copyright issues going on here--? From recent information I've gotten on the subject of getting permission to arrange copyrighted work, there would have been contracts and heavy fees to have your version officially sanctioned--Apparently you mean all that was bypassed?

    As to the recording itself, it's great fun to hear those loud drums and to have this theme brightened up in a fun marching band way. Great!

    I do feel that the recording itself is far too dry--You said you brought the project into Sonar to add reverb?--but I can't hear any--. It would sound much more organic with reverb. Maybe you accidentally had it turned off?

    ANyway--Interesting post. I enjoyed what you did--and as per the above, am wondering about the legal issues, crediting the composer etc.

    Randy B.

  4. #4

    Re: The Gotham Knight Marching Band Show

    Contrary to Randy's opinion, I think a whole bunch of writing (as arranging)definitely went on here, and maybe even a little composing, too, where there might have been a question about the accuracy of your transcription. I know I have taken a little creative license in the past in similar situations. Sometimes you have to take your best guess, and sometimes it only takes a little nudge to "fix" what the original composer missed

    Anyway, I wanted to ask if you did all the percussion arranging as well as the horns. I've heard it's common to have one arranger do the horns and then turn the score over to a drum line specialist who finishes it up. If you did it all, then even more kudos to you.
    Paul Baker
    Baker's Jazz And More
    Austin, Texas, USA

  5. #5

    Re: The Gotham Knight Marching Band Show

    Hello again Jonny, and bmdaustin

    I hope it's understood that I'm not minimizing or demeaning the work done on this piece in the least. I think it sounds great, and it was a very clever idea to do this as a marching band piece.

    There's been a discussion along these lines on the current "Vote For Challenge #13" thread on the General Discussion board. I pointed out that people aren't composing when they do their entries for the challenges, but rather they're arranging a theme composed by the challenge setter. Well--that sparked a debate about the definitions of "composing" "arranging" and "orchestrating." Various opnions seem to boil down a lot to what people are taught, and that's logical.

    What I was taught still seems right to me--That when one does work like Jonny did here with Danny Elfman's Batman theme, it's arranging. He adapted and arranged the composition for marching band. A lot of artistic choices had to be made in this work, and as I said, it's a bit silly to think that arranging or orchestrating are "lesser" achievements than composing. But I don't see how this can be called "composing"--"writing."

    As composers ourselves, I think we Should care what it's called when people work with what we've written. If any of us were Danny Elfman, we wouldn't be too happy for Jonny to say he'd written this Batman theme.

    Anyway, that's why what I was taught makes sense to me. But to reiterate, when I made the observation that I don't consider this "writing," that wasn't intended as a way of minimizing the accomplishement Jonny has here in this piece.

    I Do think that the composer's name should always be included when things like this are made public--So his name really ought to have been on this thread starter. And it's not possible to approve of doing a piece like this without having the proper contract. Again, as musicians and composers ourselves, we don't want to be party to breaking copyright laws, thereby depriving creators of their properly due royalties. If such contracts were drawn up for this, then great!--it's just that there's been no indication of that.

    Randy B.

  6. #6

    Re: The Gotham Knight Marching Band Show


    I guess it boils down to semantics. To me, "writing" includes composing and arranging, and to you it appears to solely refer to composing. That's fine, well, and good. It's my habit to say that I "wrote" an arrangement (e.g. I wrote a chart on A-Train), not that I "made an arrangement of (insert tune's title here)". I never for a minute took Johnny's description or title to be anything more than his arrangement of Elfman's themes.
    Paul Baker
    Baker's Jazz And More
    Austin, Texas, USA

  7. #7

    Re: The Gotham Knight Marching Band Show

    Wow! Sorry but I used to be a huge Danny Elfman fan. Today it's more of a respect. This is a great success given it was done by ear. I never tried to duplicate Elfman's music but I always wondered, when I first started composing, "how does he write like that?" And painfully went about discovering the secrets. Good thing I went to school.
    Once again, great job Jonny on your interpretation and professional skill! I guess it's all a matter of interpretation.

    "...Wiktor's a Jekyll-Hyde personality..." - Lycos Music

  8. #8

    Re: The Gotham Knight Marching Band Show

    You're right, bmdaustinm, and I'm glad you added more to this interesting discussion. Jonny Lost wrote this arrangement.

    I haven't meant to come across as the Heavy in this thread. I've said all along that the creative pursuits of composing, arranging, and orchestrating are all equally admirable and involve the talents of people who do those things.

    Jonny never said he composed this, so I now see that what's more apropos to this discussion is that it bothers me that the composer of the music which Jonny did a new arrangement of was never mentioned. He said it was "from the Tim Burton film"--I'm still not sure why he didn't credit the originator of the work. Jonny?

    I realize, when it comes to thinking of semantics and what words I use, that like with the string quartet arrangement I posted of "Drive My Car" by Lennon/McCartney--I say I "did" the arrangement. I could very well say I "wrote" the arrangement. With the distinctions I make, I'm more comfortable saying "this is an arrangement I did of..."

    The other thing apropos to this thread is the question of using a copyrighted work for an adaptation or arrangement. Notice this Batman theme wasn't credited by name, just as the composer wasn't. The name "Gotham Knight" was used as a way of getting around the trademarked and copyrighted name of the character and the equally protected composition by Elfman.

    And that makes it seem very likely, especially considering that Jonny has been silent on his own thread,--that it's because the music was used without permission.

    I wouldn't dream of having my string quartet version of "Drive My Car" be performed, even by an amateur group in a free concert, without having legal permission to use the arrangement of the composition which I - Did.

    As I said in a thread I started in the General Discussion board, I found out that it would cost me $500 to have that arrangement be made available to groups, and I would have to have special permission directly from Paul McCartney and those in charge of John Lennon's estate, presumably Yoko Ono.

    Michael--Why did you say you're "Sorry" that you "used" to be an Elfman fan? He's a fine screen score writer--even though I saw someone say on this very Forum that his Batman theme is "note by note" taken from an earlier piece. I have no idea if there's any truth in that.

    But, Michael, your post is saying that you "used to be a Huge Elfman fan"--but then you went to school, learned about composing, and as a result you now only "respect" him--? This implies that once you learned "the secrets" as you called them, that you're not as impressed by the people you once were? That's a very interesting phenomenon--Is it similar to how once we know how a magician does his illusions, we're then no longer impressed with his act? Familiarity breeds contempt--that sort of thing?

    Seems to me that having a better understanding of music can only broaden our appreciation of those who do it well. We can become very accomplished composers and yet have an even deeper admiration for our fellow composers, don't you think?

    And it also seems to me that having a better appreciation of music and the people who create it means that we wouldn't feel comfortable doing our own versions of other people's work and changing the titles of those works just enough to protect ourselves from lawsuits...

    Randy B.

  9. #9

    Re: The Gotham Knight Marching Band Show

    No, Randy, the "sorry" was for the "WOW".
    No, Randy, I'm still impressed by Elfman's music; still gives me chills.
    But, Randy, It is one thing to understand the "trick" but another to originate it.
    Now, that I have clarified my remarks for you I'm sure you can see that we actually agree.

    And as for your last comment, just insert the word "i" instead of "we" and you might not come across as insulting to Jonny.

    "...Wiktor's a Jekyll-Hyde personality..." - Lycos Music

  10. #10

    Re: The Gotham Knight Marching Band Show

    Hello, Michael--You're up late too I see! Night Owls of the Garritan Forums unite!

    Ah--I see. Thanks for explaining the "sorry"--I couldn't see what you were meaning.

    But now I'M sorry, because the last part of your new reply lost me. I've scoured my reply and don't know where I'm supposed to "...insert the word 'you' instead of 'we'" --? What? Where?

    And I can't figure out where I might possibly have "...come across as insulting to bmdaustin..." --??-- The whole first part of my post was telling him that I agree that Jonny wrote this adaptation/arrangement.

    I'm missing something here.--?

    Randy B.

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