Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Email to another friend
Thanks for asking. As the young people say, I got over it.
My shrink says that the obsession I'm currently experiencing with the early 20th century music is all right as long as I don't screw it up by having to live up to self-imposed deadlines. He thinks I've had enough of them the last 66 years and now that I've found something that's fun, if I start making demands on myself, it will cease to be fun and become a chore with no rewards. He may be on to something. Besides, it's not like any of my arrangements will see the light of day. Harrisburg theaters take chances on nothing. If a show doesn't have a name and a favorable Broadway (or at least off-Broadway) reputation, no one will produce it. Thus, no need for deadlines, no need for perfection, no need for collaboration...I can be the quiet egomaniac I've always wanted to be.
During that session, he confessed that he didn't have any idea what an arrangement was and, therefore, what an arranger does. I told him to think of a ring. If the melody were the jewel, the arrangement is its setting. He got it. Not bad, huh?
Do you remember "Wild Cherries," one of the 4-handers I did? It was written by Ted Snyder. I've discovered more of his music, some of which I enjoy. One of them is called "Dancing Fool," and it struck me as a Fred and Ginger number, except that it's early '20s; at best it would be for Fred and Adele, and I'm not sure when he and his sister started dancing on the vaudeville circuit. However, last night I mapped out a dance break for it. I'm just about finished with it and I want to make some additions to the existing accompaniment. I try to honor the ragtime code: first time through as written, then go to it. It's just a matter of simple embellishments so the pianist won't get bored. So far I'm as pleased with it as I was with "Ain't She Sweet." Both of them amaze me that I did what I did to them.
On the other hand, this self-taught stuff can be time-consuming. So much is hit-or-miss...or, since I'm doing it on my PrintMusic program, hunt-and-peck. There's also something wrong with the computer and we can't make PDFs nor record from the score. When that gets fixed I'll send it to you.
I've also tried playing with Eubie Blake's "Baltimore Buzz" from his groundbreaking "Shuffle Along." It's a great number and I had fun playing with it. I won't say "Buzz" is indestructible, but it held up under my leaden fingers pretty well. I also found George M. Cohan's "Popularity," a march/rag from "Little Johnny Jones." Unfortunately, the copy from the Ol' Miss collection doesn't have the last page, which I didn't realize until I got to the bottom of the last available page and there was no double bar to be seen. So, I played with it and came up with an ending I felt dishonored neither Mr. Cohan nor his tune. Then I discovered another site and they had the complete score. I was surprised that (George M. forgive me) I preferred my ending to his.
Finally (for now), I'm trying to figure out a set of songs from The Great War. I have what I need, but the order hasn't gelled. Where, for example, does one put "Would You Rather Be A Colonel With An Eagle On Your Shoulder Or A Private With A Chicken On Your Knee?" or "How You Gonna Keep 'Em Down On The Farm (After They've Seen Paree)?" or "Oh, Frenchy!"? What I'd like to do is maybe start with "Over There" (typical, huh?) and end it with "Keep The Home Fires Burning," but I want the set to end the first act, so it'll have to be big. I was considering asking the audience to join the cast and sing along, but does anyone under 40 even know it?
But I'm not thinking about creating a revue, you understand.
Hope you're well. Enjoy springtime in the Poconos. Take good care.