Variations on a theme of George Harrison
for septet — 1975
The theme is not one of George Harrison’s Beatles or post-Beatles songs, but a curious little waltz called Red Lady Too from the music he produced, mainly in Bombay (as it was then known), in 1968 for the even more curious film Wonderwall. The theme has two contrasting sections, one entirely diatonic in D minor and the other with a chromatically downwards-sliding harmonic progression. This seemed to me to lend itself to the process of variation.
I’ve always had a penchant for low instruments, which I indulged in this piece by choosing an ensemble of bass clarinet, trombone and double bass with harp, keyboards (celesta and clavinet) and two percussionists playing wood and metal instruments but no skins (the vibraphone is shared, perc.2 playing it from the ‘wrong side’). There’s a good deal of fairly free, unmeasured notation, so the duration is variable. My MIDI recording (below) lasts twenty minutes.
- bass clarinet
- tenor/bass trombone with straight, cup & harmon mutes
- double bass
- celesta / clavinet (electric clavichord) or sampled equivalents
- percussion 1: crôtales, vibraphone, xylorimba, 3 gongs, 2 suspended cymbals, hi-hat, sleigh bells, flexatone, 3 woodblocks, 5 temple blocks, sandblocks, claves
- percussion 2: glockenspiel, vibraphone, tubular bells, 2 triangles, 3 cowbells, 3 suspended cymbals, 3 wooden-headed tom-toms (or log drums), guiro, slapstick, 2 maracas (or other shakers)
Performances / broadcasts / ‘real’ recordings
None so far... anyone?
Listen to MIDI version (20:20)
This is the identical recording twice, the choice being offered in case of technical hiccups on either of the ‘mother ships’. Note: these two players will run simultaneously, so unless you fancy a double dose (out of sync) of my ‘spiritual output’, I recommend that you take care to avoid this happening!
This a computer-generated mockup of music entirely or partially for ‘real’ instruments. Clearly it is no substitute for a live performance, but it’s all I’ve got — or perhaps all I can make public for various reasons. There’s a fuller disclaimer on the Listen page.
...with a sneak preview of the score
Or just in case YouTube isn’t co-operating today...
- Sequencer: MOTU Digital Performer (Mac)
- Each part recorded dry to a mono audio track, then positioned for final stereo mix, with very gentle application of MOTU MasterWorks EQ and MOTU MasterWorks Limiter; reverb is MOTU ProVerb.
- Bass clarinet: EastWest Hollywood Orchestral Woodwind (host: Play)
- Trombone: Sample Modeling The Trombone (host: Native Instruments Kontakt 5)
- Double bass: Kontakt Factory Library/VSL Strings (host: Kontakt 5)
- Double bass harmonics: cello from Spitfire Audio Solo Strings (host: Kontakt 5)
- Harps: Kontakt Factory Library/VSL Strings (host: Kontakt 5)
- Celesta, vibraphone: Modartt Pianoteq 4
- Xylorimba: cross-fade between Modartt Pianoteq 4 (marimba) & Kontakt Factory Library/VSL Percussion (host: Kontakt 5) (xylophone)
- Clavinet: Scarbee Vintage Keys (host: Kontakt 5)
- Glockenspiel: Kontakt Factory Library/VSL Percussion (host: Kontakt 5)
- Crôtales, tubular bells, FX: Garritan Personal Orchestra (host: Aria Player)
- 2 cymbals, hi-hat: Abbey Road 60s Drums (host: Kontakt 5)
- 1 cymbal, slapstick: Kontakt Factory Library/Orchestral Percussion/All Percussion (host: Kontakt 5)
- Shakers: Kontakt Factory Library/World/Percussion/African Shakers (host: Kontakt 5)
- Sleigh bells: Garritan Personal Orchestra/Percussion Toys (host: Aria Player)
- Other unpitched percussion: Native Instruments Battery 3
- Score: MakeMusic Finale
- Movie: Apple iMovie
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