Symphonic, Piano, and Vocal Works for Performance on Carillon
Arranging Symphonic, Piano, and Vocal Works for Performance on Carillon
By Frances Newell
possible by The Guild of Carillonneurs in North America, Barnes Scholarship
Made possible by The Guild of Carillonneurs in North America, Barnes Scholarship
Arranging Symphonic, Vocal, and Piano Works for performance on Carillon
by Frances Newell
Click on links at bottom of page to see notes on each carillon arrangement
I wanted to bring out the orchestration, lyrical vocal lines, and piano tone-painting of major composers and make them playable on the carillon. The carillon reaches an entire community and beautiful playing can uplift and inspire people. However, arranging for a 4-octave carillon, with optional notes for 5 octaves, is whole different ball game from arranging for my 26 Taylor bells on my home carillon. It is also very different from what I have learned in decades of orchestral and vocal composing and performing.
Melody, harmony, and rhythm are a composer's primary tools. All of them work differently on a carillon than they do on orchestral instruments, piano, or singing. Those 3 primary tools must be handled differently in order to bring out the phrasing, line, articulation, orchestral color, tone-painting, and layering, which a composer uses to communicate ideas.
In my work with Carlo Van Ulft, I arranged a wide variety of styles, including the following:
"Mondnacht" from the song cycle "Liederkreis", opus 39, by Robert Schumann, piano/vocal
"Ave Maria", by Franz Schubert, as a carillon solo and duet, organ/vocal
"3 Gnossiennes", by Eric Satie, piano solo
Final movement of Pastoral Symphony No. 6, by Beethoven, symphony orchestra
Medley from "Porgy and Bess", by George Gershwin, opera orchestra/vocal
1. The bells keep sounding! Carillonneur cannot STOP sound at precise moment, like orchestral instruments and singers can. You are creating harmonies that do not appear in the score, because the sounds keep vibrating. So keep textures thin and simple. You can thicken a little more on the top notes.
2. Lower bells sounds last longer and are naturally louder. A bass line can be very powerful when the sounds build up. You do not want it to overlap too much, or you get murky sound.
3. Carillon is a percussion instrument, so rhythmic interest should be kept up. Good rhythm keeps a piece moving!
4. You are not the composer! Your job here is to communicate the style and magic of another! Don't think about what YOU would want, but what HE would want! Be as true to composer's message and style as possible.
5. Pick the right piece! Pick a piece that you love, that you sing or play in your soul! Imagine playing it on carillon, hearing someone else playing it. Do you think that the composer's style and intent will sound good on big bells?
6. If you are arranging a work by a composer with whom you are unfamiliar, research the composer, his history, his bio. Listen to some of his other music. Find out what's behind his music.
7. LISTEN to the music, in recordings before you arrange it and in your head WHILE you arrange it!
8. You must delete a lot of notes from the original score and put a lot of notes in different octaves, but DO NOT ADD OR CHANGE any notes! Do not move any notes to a different beat or sub-beat. Keep integrity of the original music.
9. Whatever harmonic, rhythmic, or ornamental content you have to compromise on to make it playable, NEVER compromise on being MUSICAL!
Some good music sources, cheap or free:
http://www.onlinesheetmusic.com http://IMSLP.org (Petrucci music Library)
http://www.Amazon.com, where you can download mp3 sound files to your own "cloud", then copy onto your computer. For those of you born before all this "cloud" stuff, that means: you buy it for 99 cents, download it to your account in cyber space, but remember: It's not on YOUR computer until you do the extra step of SAVING or COPYING it to your own computer!
HOW TO START:
1. Enter the original exactly AS IS, original key, All the notes in their original octaves.
2. Always mark every measure of your original copy with measure numbers! When entering original into your computer, DISPLAY EVERY MEASURE NUMBER! YOU WILL GET BUG-EYED AND MIXED UP AND WILL NEED TO KNOW EXACTLY WHERE YOU ARE. When you're finished, then change the setting to display measure numbers only at the beginning of each system. Save file as the original, so you can go back to it when needed.
3. I suggest entering each of the 3 positions, or layers, in a SEPARATE LAYER OF FINALE. This way, you can hide layers as you work on one layer. Even delete a whole layer without losing everything.
4. Audience hears melody first. Do not change melody. Always remember the PHRASING.
5. Bass line anchors your harmonies and rhythms. Keep bass line as written, unless you have to change it for technical reasons. Keep it from going lower than the C. Keep line as smooth as possible. I suggest not taking bass line higher than G1. Many European carillons only go to G1. Many larger American carillons go to C2, but I think going too high robs the bass line of its impact!
1-CLICK HERE for Notes on Arranging "Mondnacht" by Robert Schumann for carillon.
2- CLICK HERE for Notes on Arranging Schubert "Ave Maria" for carillon.
3- CLICK HERE for Notes on Arranging Satie Gnossiennes for carillon
LISTEN to the music, in recordings before you arrange it and in your head WHILE you arrange it!
Imagine playing it on carillon and hearing someone else play it.
Be as true to composer's message and style as possible.
You must delete a lot of notes from original score and put a lot of notes in different octaves, but DO NOT ADD OR CHANGE any notes!
Whatever technical content you have to compromise on to make it playable, NEVER compromise on being MUSICAL!