The Richter Scales: Men Who Blog

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Something to listen for at our concert...

A few years back I signed up for a vocal arranging class at Berkeley's Jazz School. I already had a good deal of arranging experience, but I figured I'd be able to pick up a few tips, and at the very least, it would force me to start work on a new arrangement. I decided to take a stab at Leslie Bricusse and Antony Newly's "Pure Imagination" from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. What came out the other end was the densest, most difficult arrangement I've ever put together. The whole thing is 38 measures of very complex harmonies, tone clusters, and tricky intervals. There were some chords in this arrangement that defy any traditional approach to harmony.

I brought it to the Richter Scales and after what must have been months of trying to learn it, we ultimately decided that it was just too much for the group to handle. So we put the arrangement away and moved onto simpler fare.

But after four years of growth and development, I thought that maybe the current incarnation of the Richter Scales was ready to revisit this arrangement. So, with many reservations, I brought the arrangement back to rehearsal earlier this year. And after taking a lot of time to learn the notes and get the strange harmonies into our ears, I'm happy to say that it's just about ready to perform. So we're going to step up to the plate and give the first public performance of this chart at our holiday gig on December 10th.

So when you're at the show, and you see all of us suddenly start concentrating really hard, It's probably because we're trying to tune a chord that shouldn't be sung in polite company.

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