Time Flies When You’re Having Fun…Arranging!

I can’t believe it’s been three months since I’ve posted.  Since I retired from gigging and decided to concentrate on arranging music, I’ve been busier than ever.

I now have a publisher page at SheetMusicPlus and have added more than a dozen new arrangements since mid-March, when I last posted.

My goal of arranging a second group of ten Broadway/popular songs was met back in April.  Feeling as if I’d arranged and uploaded all of my best selections eligible for publication through SMP’s licensing agreement, I returned to Celtic selections, rediscovering songs I’d heard but never considered bringing to life on the harp.

My “popular” song compendium does not include Christmas selections, which are in a category of their own, at least as far as I’m concerned.  I did include, though, a few Christian contemporary songs which I felt were “naturals” for the harp.

In the midst of all of this, two fantastic things occurred:  SMP obtained licensing rights for 1,000,000 new songs…that’s right, one million!  Because of the sheer volume, songs are being added about 5,000 at a time, providing people like me a plethora of music and genres to work through.

A few titles I asked SMP about at the end of May have already shown up in the new list — great songs from classic movies and Broadway shows.  And there are more on the way!

The second thing:  completely unexpected and unsolicited, I was contacted by a major publisher of harp music with a request to submit some of my work.  I quickly asked myself,  “Of everything I’ve done, what I should I send?”

I decided on something I thought would give them the best glimpse into what I’m about while at the same time providing an idea of my favorite songs.  As requested, I provided a bio — rewritten and tailored to the audience — and other information available at my fingertips — literally.

The next day I received a “thank-you” with a promise that they’d be back in touch in the next several weeks.

Wow!  While nothing is guaranteed, it certainly served as an impetus to continue arranging and expanding the harp repertoire.

And before we know it, the Christmas season will again be upon us, and it will be time to find some great new songs to arrange.

 

The Magic of Rodgers & Hammerstein

(Mar. 4, 2018) — I am having a great time creating arrangements for pedal harp of well-known Broadway show tunes, many of which were composed by the famous duo of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II.  Rodgers wrote the lyrics to the melodies which Hammerstein seemed to magically put together for dozens of musicals.

During my 28 years in performing, I “arranged” a lot of the songs now uploaded to SheetMusicPlus for sale, but they were often played from penciled-over piano parts or from memory, since that was often easier.   It is quite different now having them properly notated, and they are much easier to read.

Since I grew up in the 60s and 70s, I loved adapting songs recorded by Neil Diamond, John Denver, Lionel Ritchie, and other greats of that era.  I was sometimes asked to play Beatles selections, which worked well as long as they were the slower ballads such as John Lennon’s “Grow Old With Me.”

Songs of the 80s, 90s and later also worked well if they were written, or could be interpreted, in the same vein.

In an earlier post, I wrote that I like to produce arrangements in groups of ten, but I am enjoying doing the show tunes, especially the Rodgers & Hammerstein ones, so much that I plan to stay the course until I run out of material.  Then I will move on to other “pop” tunes that I believe will work well on my instrument.

I particularly remember playing “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” by Jerome Kern quite often at events, where it was often recognized by the older guests as nostalgic, a throwback to an earlier time when the world seemingly moved a bit slower and people appreciated a good musical performance.  There are some challenging pedal changes in that one, but even with the modulation in the middle, it’s quite playable for intermediate-to-advanced harpists.

My favorites thus far are “Younger Than Springtime” from “South Pacific,” whose harp part I performed some years ago in a high school production; and “If I Loved You” from the musical “Carousel.”

 

My Arrangements of Popular Songs Now Available at SheetMusicPlus!

(Jan. 23, 2018) — Since my Mel Bay book titled “Easy Scottish Harp Music”  containing ten interpretations of little-known Scottish ballads was published in April 2009, I have adhered to the standard of groups of ten when producing new projects.

Beginning last summer, I published arrangements of 14 of my favorite Irish ballads, all learned by ear from vocal selections, then included ten of them in a new book, “Ten Irish Songs for All Harps,” published and copyrighted last fall.

Just after Labor Day, I began work on releasing ten Christmas arrangements, two from the public domain and the remaining eight from the SheetMusicPlus “ArrangeMe” list.

Two new Scottish uploads will hopefully transform into ten this year, with another ten-song collection in the making. I am also planning a ten-song collection of hymns for lever and pedal harp not currently in the repertoire.

At the moment I am working on popular songs from Broadway shows and well-known composers in the “ArrangeMe” category.  Thus far I have uploaded my arrangement of John Lennon’s “Grow Old With Me,” Joseph Kosma’s well-loved “Autumn Leaves,” and a favorite from the Broadway show “Carousel,” “You’ll Never Walk Alone” by Rodgers & Hammerstein.

When I was publicly performing over nearly three decades, I found that audiences, even casual ones at wedding receptions and parties, appreciated hearing songs with which they were familiar, and I often played a half-hour set of those at the end of an engagement to foster an environment where people could converse while enjoying songs in the background that they undoubtedly had heard before.  These included the above selections along with many others from the repertoires of John Denver, Henry Mancini (Moon River), Leonard Bernstein (West Side Story), and a host of other musical greats.

There are a myriad of wonderful popular songs in my repertoire not mentioned here, and I plan to notate those from the ArrangeMe list over the remainder of the winter.  You can therefore expect seven more for an even number of ten!