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Topic: Demo: “You Didn’t Have To Be So Nice”-Featuring The Randy Bowser Autoharp

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  1. #1
    Senior Member Frank D's Avatar
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    Demo: “You Didn’t Have To Be So Nice”-Featuring The Randy Bowser Autoharp

    Hi Friends …

    I just finished taking Randy’s virtual Autoharp instrument for a test drive and this original arrangement/orchestration is the result …

    “You Didn’t Have To Be So Nice”

    ABOUT THE SONG …

    I chose a Lovin’ Spoonful song since they were the first group I ever saw use an autoharp (probably on “Hullabaloo” … anyone remember that show?! J). The song was written by founding members John Sebastian and Steve Boone in 1965 and defined the folk-pop Spoonful’s self-described style of “good-time music”.

    Sebastian wrote a half-dozen or so ‘60’s top-10 hits (some with Boone) that were pure simplicity with lovely melodies, pretty harmonies, and gentle, subtle lyrics. His songs were about as unpretentious as you can get. As proof of the endearing qualities of a good melody that sticks in a corner of your mind, I did this arrangement from memory and by ear … the melody was that enduring and memorable!

    “You Didn’t Have To Be So Nice” is based entirely on just two, four-measure statements … one for the verses and one for the choruses. I permutated the verse-melody slightly on each verse’s second four-bar repeat, but otherwise respected the simple tune as-written. I tried to vary the repetitiveness exclusively with shifts in orchestration and the simple counter-melodies.

    I’ve also included John and Steve's lyrics at the end of this write-up.

    INSTRUMENTATION …

    The virtual ensemble (all-Garritan, Randy’s Autoharp excepted) is …

    Reed1 – Bass clarinet, Bb clarinet
    Reed2 – English Horn, Oboe

    Autoharp
    Violin
    Viola
    Cello
    Bass

    Percussion1 – Drum set
    Percussion2 – Vibes, bells

    I lucked-out that the optimum key for the autoharp also turned out to be the perfect key for using the bass clarinet and English horn on the main melodies. I couldn’t have asked for a “woodier”, warmer, more resonant register. For variety, they switch to Bb clarinet and oboe for the 3rdverse/chorus and play the melody up an octave before reverting back to the lower instruments for the coda and finale.

    SCORING THE AUTOHARP …

    I wanted to demo the Autoharp in a traditional ensemble setting, sometimes taking the lead, but more often simply helping to define the harmony while also providing the rhythmic foundation. I used it as I would a piano or a guitar, and I think it was very effective in this role!

    Besides the gentle beauty of the tune, the song was also chosen because of its completely diatonic nature. Although Randy conveniently provided us with a chromatic instrument, I wanted to remain faithful to the fact that most autoharps contain basic chords in just two or three keys usually spaced a 4th or 5th apart (note that there are chromatic autoharps, but they’re not as common).

    Although the song is in C-Major, and to my ear always had a Major 7thsound/feel to the tonic, I was able to extend the Autoharp’s simple, triadic harmony (and I suppose 4-tone for the Dominant 7ths) by occasionally playing E-minor strums alternating with the C-Major strums, thus producing the Major 7thfeel I was desiring. Likewise, I extended the A-minor harmony by doing the same thing: playing some E-minor strums occasionally alternating with the A-minor strums, which gave me an A-minor 9th sound for a more flavorful harmony.

    USING THE VIRTUAL AUTOHARP …

    Randy’s Autoharp was a gas to use … just a ton of fun! If you’re not familiar with it, it comes in Aria and Dimension Pro flavors (I used the later via VSTi in Sonar X1 Extended) and everything about it worked exactly as described in the manual. First, I played around with getting authentic sounding strum patterns (using lots of cc64 and varying the velocity between strums), then, after creating the full arrangement/orchestration, I went back and started playing around with some of the alternate samples available via the mod wheel for some of the sections where the autoharp was more exposed.

    I also took advantage of the single note samples, using them on the choruses where the autoharp carried brief sections of the melody. I did all the autoharp for this chart in just a single track (with a single Dim Pro instance). In the future, I would keep the single notes in a separate track (with a second Dim Pro instance) for better independent control.

    There were still many types of shadings I could have tweaked out of Randy’s autoharp, but since it was in an ensemble role, I thought this was ‘good enough’ for the purposes of my ensemble demo.

    The arrangement took about a week of sessions here and there, with another couple of days for mixing.

    I’ve included a track of just the autoharp with bass to hear its use in this arrangement more clearly …

    “… Be So Nice”: Autoharp + Bass -only

    This is a fun instrument and the suggested $10 donation is very reasonable … let’s face it: A REAL BARGIN!! Randy, I hope you keep creating quality add-ons like this Autoharp and that our community supports it … THANKS!!

    Comments always welcome and I hope you enjoy this arrangement!


    Best regards,

    Frank

    “You Didn’t Have To Be So Nice”
    - by John Sebastian and Steve Boone

    (Note: Verses synchronize with the bass clarinet/clarinet parts)

    Verse 1:
    You didn’t have to be so nice
    I would have liked you anyway.
    If you had looked just once or twice
    And gone upon your quiet way.

    Chorus:
    Today I said the time was right for me to follow you;
    I knew I’d find you in a day or two … and it’s true!

    Verse 2:
    You came upon a quiet day
    You simply seemed to take your place.
    I knew that it would be that way
    The minute that I saw your face.

    Repeat Chorus

    Verse 3:
    And when we’ve had a few more days
    I wonder if I’ll get to say.
    You didn’t have to be so nice
    I would have liked you anyway.

    Repeat Chorus; Repeat Chorus…

  2. #2

    Re: Demo: “You Didn’t Have To Be So Nice”-Featuring The Randy Bowser Autoharp

    I
    am
    speechless


    Omigosh that sounds good, Frank. A tribute to John Sebastian!--couldn't find something more perfect for using the Autoharp!

    Your post - so full of great bits of info, and your trademarked enthusiasm, your very appreciated comments on the quality of the instrument - I'm taken by such surprise, and am so tickled with this - I can't really respond more than this right now.

    You, Mr. D'Erasmo, have more than made my day. You've at the Least made my week.

    Fantastic - THANK you!

    Randy

  3. #3

    Re: Demo: “You Didn’t Have To Be So Nice”-Featuring The Randy Bowser Autoharp

    But IT IS nice!
    Wonderful sounds and ambience!
    Fabio
    Arrigo Beyle / Milanese / Lived, wrote, loved -- Stendhal
    Being Italian is a full-time job -- B. Severgnini

  4. #4

    Re: Demo: “You Didn’t Have To Be So Nice”-Featuring The Randy Bowser Autoharp

    This is simply GREAT!

    Your arranging and orchestration sparkle in this piece. I still marvel at your engineering and stereo field use. You make it sound so simple and we both know that is certainly not the case. It takes great ears to engineer a piece to the level of quality.

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane. Now, You have also shown me how the auto-harp can be used!
    [Music is the Rhythm, Harmony and Breath of Life]
    "Music is music, and a note's a note" - Louis 'Satchmo' Armstrong

    Rich

  5. #5

    Re: Demo: “You Didn’t Have To Be So Nice”-Featuring The Randy Bowser Autoharp

    You didn't have to be so nice, ah, but you were Frank. This is so nice...

    Nice balance, and, since I got my hearing aids, I am hearing everything. I love the clarinet!!

    Best regards,

    Bill
    We dream to write and we write to dream.

    Challenge #10 Winner

  6. #6

    Re: Demo: “You Didn’t Have To Be So Nice”-Featuring The Randy Bowser Autoharp

    That clarinet is class. Great arrangement as usual and autoharp..er...ing.

    Randy created a wonderful little instrument, and you brought it to life.
    Website:
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  7. #7
    Senior Member Frank D's Avatar
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    Re: Demo: “You Didn’t Have To Be So Nice”-Featuring The Randy Bowser Autoharp

    Quote Originally Posted by rbowser- View Post
    I
    am
    speechless


    Omigosh that sounds good, Frank. A tribute to John Sebastian!--couldn't find something more perfect for using the Autoharp!

    Your post - so full of great bits of info, and your trademarked enthusiasm, your very appreciated comments on the quality of the instrument - I'm taken by such surprise, and am so tickled with this - I can't really respond more than this right now.

    You, Mr. D'Erasmo, have more than made my day. You've at the Least made my week.

    Fantastic - THANK you!

    Randy
    Hey Randy!

    Thank YOU for providing such an imaginative tool; it really did instantly transport me back to the mid-sixties. It was a fun demo for me to put together and I'm glad you felt it framed your instrument well. I hope others will give a listen and try their hand at using the autoharp.

    One thing I didn't mention in my long write-up (when you post as little music as I do, I always like to tell a 'little' about my projects
    ) ... was that my first LIVE encounter with the autoharp was when I was in the Navy stationed in Hawaii in '70-'72 and used to frequent a cool hotel restaurant/lounge: The house 'band', a duo (Aloha shirts and all!), had a fellow who sang all the leads and played Autoharp. But it was one of those smaller, single-key types. The other fellow played ukulele, guitar, misc percussion ... and the sound really worked well singing all the Hawaiian pop tunes (which they began and ended nearly every song with a little Hawaiian-esq chord progression). Never would have thought it would work so well in that genre but it did ... I suppose it's a very diatonic music!

    Mahalo, maestro, for listening and commenting ...

    Frank


  8. #8
    Senior Member Frank D's Avatar
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    Re: Demo: “You Didn’t Have To Be So Nice”-Featuring The Randy Bowser Autoharp

    Quote Originally Posted by fabiolcati View Post
    But IT IS nice!
    Wonderful sounds and ambience!
    Molte grazie, Fabio!

    I tried very hard to go ever-so-gently with the reverb (Pantheon in Sonar ... a tweaked-up small room model) ... the least amount I could detect. I didn't want to destroy the chamber quality of the recording.

    Thanks for listening and commenting!

    Frank

  9. #9

    Re: Demo: “You Didn’t Have To Be So Nice”-Featuring The Randy Bowser Autoharp

    Frank,

    This fine arrangement of yours reminds me just how thrilling it is to be able to capture and use these instruments; not physically, but through their essence when made into soundfonts like Randy has done so well here.

    The idea that he can record an instrument that he owns, then pass it on to the world as a usable file that hence comes to life in a recording like this is truly amazing. I believe that we are so used to working with this technology that many of us forget how blessed we are to be able to give voice to our souls through this magical technology.

    Thanks for the fine render.

  10. #10
    Senior Member sd cisco's Avatar
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    Re: Demo: “You Didn’t Have To Be So Nice”-Featuring The Randy Bowser Autoharp

    Frank!
    Nice work, dreamy version and the RB auto-harp is quite interesting sounding, quite clear, too. Funny how you don't forget a guy like John Sebastian, wrote part of the soundtrack to our lives!
    Very cool arrangement!!!

    Thanks for sharing!
    sd cisco

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