NEWSLETTER of DAVID E. SMITH PUBLICATIONS, LLC
VOL 2, NO. 3, AUGUST 1, 2000
© 2000 Copyright of David E. Smith Publications
All Rights Reserved. Made in U.S.A.
Table of Contents
The Lone Arrangers's Space
Meet Robert Ewing
Lines of Note
Arranging is a creative craft. If we were to look intently for a few moments at the process which an arranger typically follows, we might have a new appreciation for this craft. But there is more than meets the ear here. The arranger has a great responsibility to form a work that is at once fresh and yet maintains the mood and dignity of the original song. Realizing that each is an individual, and each will have his or her own unique touch, yet there is a fairly standard 3-step procedure:
1) GETTING THE IDEA
This involves looking through song collections, listening constantly, and experimenting with textures, ranges, accompaniments at the keyboard until some special configuration becomes a solid mass of musical seed. The tiniest seed has life within it. It contains all that is needed to grow a huge tree if given water and sunlight for stimulation.
The resulting fruit should also have seeds within it. A completed arrangement of sacred music ought to produce a sort of fruit of its own; it ought to help sustain the spiritual life of believers. (Not as a substitute for the Word of God, but as an expression of the character of God).
A musical seed has all the potential of a large work; but it must be stimulated and shaped by the sunlight of inspiration and the water of perspiration. Very few arrangements just roll from the writer's head. Even fewer come easily from the heart. But if he is constantly practicing his craft, if she is open to fair criticism and suggestions for improvement, then there is the nurturing of musical growth that is absolutely necessary for the production of a fresh arrangement. But it must all start with a wise choice of melody.
I often urge my piano students to examine the words of the hymns they are playing and meditate upon them for several days during their quiet time, especially when they are working out their own arrangements. Without a deep personal involvement an arrangement can be very clever, very technically correct, and even emotionally exciting. But without a spiritual connection between the music and the arranger, it will have far less impact on the listener.
What the arranger must do is treat each hymn as a sort of sermonette. Each selection has a message, a mood, and a ministry potential. Musical cleverness is no substitute for humble, purposeful searching for just the right choices of music to arrange. Someone has said; "Preaching that comes from the mind reaches a mind, preaching from the heart reaches a heart, preaching from the life reaches a life." Similarly, this should be the goal of all sacred musicians: to help others connect with the Lord through uplifting psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.
2) WORKING OUT THE IDEAS
During this phase the arranger holds up the tune to the light, turns it over and around, then walks around it to see its many facets and possibilities. This is a challenging step in that the basic mood and intent of the music should not be destroyed or misrepresented by how it is varied and developed. In other words, whatever variations or developments are presented, they should match the lyrics and the spirit of the original hymn. I might be able to produce a very technical and "flashy" set of variations with double-tonguing and very high, powerful trumpet lines, but surely this approach would be inappropriate for the song SOFTLY AND TENDERLY! In like manner, a slow, minor-mode for JOY TO THE WORLD would probably evoke more disdain than jubilation from the listener. No, the listeners' emotions are not my PRIME target, but I certainly don't want to violate the motivation behind the song.
3) JUDGING THE RESULTS
Once the arranger has made a careful and personally meaningful choice, (Step 1) and then appropriately fashioned an introduction, countermelodies, transitions, modulations, expression changes, and a fitting ending, (Step 2) the question must be asked: "Has the purpose of my arrangement been met?" Arranging with a purpose means that a goal has been in mind all along--one of striking the heart, mind, and spirit of the performer and the listeners. It is this communication of some aspect of spiritual truth and experience from the heart of the arranger to the hearts of the others that is the whole motivation of arranging. Nothing encourages me more than to hear from someone who has played one of my arrangements in a church service say: "This hymn arrangement stirs me up to greater hope in the Lord!" or..."this hymn arrangement was a great encouragement to several of our folks who are going through some deep waters right now," or..."My pastor was moved by this arrangement." It is not unlike the people who came away from one church saying: "Wow! What a preacher!" (And it IS wonderful to have great preaching!) But greater than this was the comment by others who left a church service saying: "Wow! What a great God we have!"
Shouldn't the musician's desire be similar to that of the preacher? The arranger is dealing with music--a powerful force. HOW he or she handles it can make a great difference in preparing a congregation to hear a sermon. It is a serious task, but when done well brings many rewards and blessings.
Dana Everson has over 125 published sacred instrumental arrangements with David E. Smith Publications. Following 22 years as Asst Prof. of Music at Delta College in mid-Michigan he moved to Wisconsin in the summer of 1999 to take up teaching duties at Northland Bible College. Everson holds the BME, MM and Masters in Sacred Music degrees. He has arranged for the Michigan State University marching and concert bands and spent a summer as a performer in the Disneyland All-American Band.
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by Harlow E. Hopkins
We all relish those times when we can relax and uninterruptedly ponder or plan or pray in a quiet environment. Christ sought those moments frequently. The early first century din that surrounded his life was of course quite different from the late twentieth century cacophony that assaults us daily but he nevertheless had to deal with the pressure of people clamoring for His attention. He had to find a secret place to meditate and commune with His Heavenly Father. "Be still and know that I am God" was a command that he obeyed.
I have attended a church several times that begins its morning worship service (following the pastor's greeting and announcements) with a period of utter silence. How dramatic it is! How worship-inducing it is!
A few years ago I attended a conference at a university whose campus also houses a monastery. Several of us attended Evensong--a devotional time of worship, which was dramatically set in a very large, modern, acoustically wonderful sanctuary. The singing of the monks was spectacularly fine. Included in the service was a full minute of absolute silence. One could almost hear hearts beating.
A university chaplain who experienced the silent moments of the vespers services said to me, "I'm responsible for the chapel services back home and function as university church pastor as well. We enter the chapel with the organ playing a stirring prelude, we sing an uplifting hymn, I deliver a message, we say a prayer and leave. Nowhere in the service is there anything as dramatic as a minute's worth of silence."
Silence can serve a number of purposes but chief among them is the opportunity provided for our Heavenly Father to capture our attention and speak to us through the Holy Spirit in that "still, small voice." It is possible of course for God to command our attention in some dramatic fashion, for example, a laser light from heaven, or ripping the stage curtain in two, but he rarely uses those means.
Somewhere, somehow, some way, we need to take the time to give Him our full attention and commune with our Creator regularly--no matter how difficult it may be to find the time or place--and be silent before Him. The rewards will be great!
Essential Points About Tonguing
THE foundational concept of tonguing is this: THE NOTES ARE CREATED BY AIR, NOT THE TONGUE. The tongue merely provides diction and speed to note production. The normal position is where the player would say "TOO or TOH." Some players or teachers will suggest using the syllable "DOO or DOH" but this syllable does not function when blowing air. The tongue may feel like a "D" consonant, but it's actually a "T." Try blowing a steady air stream through your pursed lips while saying "DOO/DOH". You can't do it, can you?! Only "TOO or TOH" works when blowing air and articulating. So only one syllable, "T", does the job. We simply use different firmnesses of "T" to produce different note lengths or weights of articulation.
Initial tonguing should be done LEGATO (a light "T"), maintaining AIRFLOW through the notes tongued from beginning to end of each breath. This can best be taught by blowing into the hand (while forming the embouchure) and tonguing to feel the steady flow of air while tonguing is done (cp. the flow of air when tonguing to the flow of a steadily blown stream of wind).
Approach tonguing as LAUNCHING NOTES, NOT cutting off notes. When we articulate, we want to dispense a certain burst of air with a certain quantity (volume) and a certain duration (staccato to legato). The tongue should be like a launch pad for balls of air! Again, the consonant "T" is best, because when tonguing air into the hand the only consonant that works is the "T".
Twa-Twa: is the sound produced by "grabbing" the note and then immediately swelling it to full tone. It sounds like singing the sound "twa." This is to be avoided at all costs!!! The beginning of the note should be as full and clear as the middle and end of the note. The best solution is to maintain full and fluid airflow throughout the line or phrase. But calling it to the player's attention is important.
TONGUING BETWEEN THE TEETH
The most common tonguing concern is tonguing between the teeth. When this is done, particularly on upper brass, a "pop" sound precedes the note tongued. The tongue should generally touch behind the teeth where the player would say the word "TOO/TOH". The exception is when players are in the lower register of the instrument when very accented or when detached notes are required. In this case, on ALL brasses, the tongue, indeed, must come between the teeth in order to get a crisp articulation. In horn playing, tonguing between the teeth IS the normal way to get a crisp staccato in most all registers. The "pop" sound is not heard because of the nature of the instrument. On low brass, tonguing between the teeth is not as much a problem since the "pop" sound is not produced due to the very open mouth position, and it may be necessary for clear diction at times.
1. Breath -- for tapering ends of phrases or long notes before rests; simply stop blowing or inhale while maintaining pitch.
2. Glottal -- for creating staccato at slow or in-between speeds; simply suspend the blowing between notes without taking a breath; end notes in vowels NOT consonants (e.g. too too, NOT toot-toot); keep the air between the lungs and tongue sustained.
3. Tongue -- for faster releases between rapidly occurring notes; a pure tongue release at too slow a speed produces a "too-eet" sound. In legato tonguing, the tongue "flicks" the roof of the mouth so rapidly that no break occurs between notes. For very fast tonguing, use the legato stroke and allow the SPEED OF THE TONGUE TO PRODUCE THE STACCATO EFFECT. At a certain speed of tongue motion, a natural staccato will occur given a normal weight of tongue contact on the roof of the mouth. To experience this, begin tonguing slowly in legato style and gradually increase the speed of the tongue while NOT CHANGING the weight of the tongue stroke. At a certain time (speed) you will hear a separation begin to occur. The lighter the tongue touch, the faster the speed will be before the separation occurs. The normal tendency is to tongue too tightly or too short on faster notes; this results in reducing the quantity of air for each note which produces a clipped or pinched sound. A legato approach on faster notes will give adequate fuel (and thus, increased tone) for each note, and the tongue speed will provide the staccato effect. This works for multiple tonguing as well.
Phil Norris is an Associate Professor of Music at Northwestern College, St. Paul, Minnesota 55113, where he teaches and actively performs on trumpet. Last spring he completed a Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Norris is a former president of the Christian Instrumentalists and Directors Association and continues to compile and edit the CIDA's Sacred List of Instrumental Music.
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MEET ROBERT EWING
Ewing grew up during the Depression of the thirties at a time when schools could not afford music programs. Nevertheless he found a way to study music--sight-reading, theory, violin, cello, piano and singing.
Following two years in Europe during WW2 as an infantryman, and gaining a Purple Heart in the process, he entered Bluffton College (Ohio) where, in his words, his studies "absolutely revamped all the faulty techniques I had developed in piano, voice, violin and cello. This process placed within me a burning desire to see to it that each of my students would have a proper technical foundation upon which to build a career."
Orchestral teaching positions were scarce when he graduated in 1950. Bands were increasing in number and he became a band director, though he had never played in one.
Following that position he began Christian School teaching in Mennonite High School. His students did extremely well in competitions and as a result he was appointed to the Vocal Affairs Committee of the Ohio Music Educators Association.
His first orchestra job came with the Chillicothe Public Schools. Again, his students did well and his reputation grew. As a result he was elected Vice President of the Ohio String Teachers Association and he taught at the Ohio Music Camp which is sponsored by Ohio State University. Kendor published his first composition while he was teaching in Chillicothe.
His next stop was a job at Ohio Christian College. By this time he had a masters degree from Wichita State University and some sixty college credits from seven different universities. Bob worked diligently to improve his skills and become the best teacher possible.
Because of his steller service to Ohio Christian College, the institution thanked him by conferring an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree. It was a way of thanking him for his teaching success and continual search for new ideas, techniques and methods.
Bob has expressed the hope that many readers are finding teaching as fascinating as he has found it. He states that the Lord has lead him into many interesting and exciting teaching areas and that even though he is now 75 years of age he is still doing quite a bit of substitute teaching. He says, "There is always something new!" Ewing currently resides in Newark, Ohio.
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ARRANGING SACRED MUSIC FOR STRING INSTRUMENTS
Arranging sacred music specifically for string instruments can be daunting to someone not comfortably familiar with the instruments. Even advanced string students attempting to write their first arrangement find the task intimidating.
by Jay-Martin Pinner
The next several articles in this column will hopefully help demystify writing for string instruments by giving proven practical suggestions. I want to encourage musicians to write string arrangements and I want to present the challenge of communicating the Gospel effectively, specifically through string music.
The theme and touchstone reference for each aspect of our arranging is Colossians 3:16: Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another, in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs singing (and playing...) with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
The first step for an arranger is to pick up a pencil or plug in the MIDI and begin! For many arrangers this is a difficult step to take. Procrastination often paralyzes one because of questions such as:
All of these questions are important to answer, so answer them quickly and get going on the arrangement!
- What piece should I arrange?
- What instruments should I arrange for?
- When is the piece needed?
- Is the piece copyrighted?
- Do I need to secure permission to arrange the piece from the copyright owner?
- Do I know the ability level of the string players for whom the piece is being arranged?
- Can I make time to write this arrangement?
Choose an appropriate hymn or gospel song. To save time in this decision-making process it is helpful to keep a notebook of ideas for arrangements including lists of pieces that have the potential to be arranged for string solos, duets, trios, quartets, violin/viola/cello choirs and string orchestra. Begin a list and add to it as you get ideas or inspirations. Refer to the list to choose a piece to arrange. Several suggestions can guide this choice.
First, the piece chosen should have workable melodic material. Some songs do not lend themselves to be easily arranged. Melodies are sometimes overly repetitious or so meandering that even an experienced arranger will be frustrated. An example of a hymn tune with wonderful melodic material is ST. HILDA, O Jesus, Thou Art Standing, by Justin Knecht and Edward Husband.
Secondly, the piece chosen should have a familiar, worthwhile text. As arrangers we should be aware that string instruments will be "singing" our work. In order for worship and edification to take place our arrangement must appropriately bring listeners to the text. If the text is tawdry, scripturally weak or totally unfamiliar we cannot overcome that association by writing a beautiful setting. That is not to say we must avoid arranging new songs or standard hymns that may be unfamiliar to our congregations. We need to be aware of our choice, and if possible teach the new or unfamiliar piece to our congregation before we present an arrangement of it. An example of a hymn tune with a striking text is HANOVER, Ye Servants of God, Your Master Proclaim, by William Croft, text by Charles Wesley.
Thirdly, in deciding on a piece to arrange we should choose one with a stable, yet varied rhythmic structure. Unvaried and repetitious straight or dotted rhythms will prove difficult to arrange. An example of a hymn tune that is stable with good rhythmic variety is NETTLETON, Come Thou Fount, by John Wyeth.
After choosing an appropriate hymn or gospel song an arranger should plan the approach. Rarely will a useable arrangement spring forth from inspiration that is without some overall plan. Many successful arrangers map out the arrangement they are writing. This mapping out is flexible, and subject to change, but gives the arranger a point of departure and a sense of direction for his work. Sketch a tentative framework for the arrangement. This can be as simple as making an outline of the basic structure of the arrangement.
A key structure should be chosen that is appropriate for string instruments. When an arrangement is written in six or seven flats for strings the arranger should not be surprised that the live performance does not come off quite as beautifully in tune as it did when his MIDI keyboard played it back! A reminder here is in order. String instruments resonate well in the open string keys of G, D, C, A and even E major. The further an arrangement moves from these keys and keys with one to four flats, the less resonance is produced naturally by the instrument. Younger string students play best in tune when arrangements are in the keys of C, G, D, A, F and B flat major. Intermediate and advanced string students can play in tune in keys up to and including four flats and four sharps. Avoid placing an arrangement for strings in the keys of five to seven flats or sharps.
- piano introduction
- stanza one - cello with piano, melody simply stated
- stanza two - piano takes melody, cello takes an obbligato figure
- piano bridge, possible modulation to stanza three
- stanza three - cello takes melody with some double stops, piano accompanies using previous obbligato figure; piece reaches climax - augment rhythm with cello in its higher register
- ending uses ideas from piano introduction and bridge to "frame" the arrangement
Often a modulation between keys helps intensify the meaning of the text for a final stanza or refrain, but writing many modulations within one arrangement weakens the desired effect. Now the arranger can refer to the framework above, add the necessary keys and begin writing!
In the next issue we will look at techniques for writing the "rough draft" or first version of an arrangement.
Jay-Martin Pinner is Head of the String Department and coordinator of the Precollege Orchestra Program at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina. . He has been a member of the Bob Jones University Symphony Orchestra for 28 years, and has appeared with that orchestra as concertmaster, soloist, principal violist, principal bassist and conductor. Pinner is an award-winning composer and arranger with several dozen published works. David E. Smith publishes five of his sacred string and brass arrangements.
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PROPER GRIP AND STROKE
One of the most frequent problems many percussionists experience, especially in their first couple of years of playing, is improper grip and stroke. This can slow the development of a player and can even make some techniques impossible to play or at least very difficult. Sufficient time and effort should be spent on the proper way to hold sticks and mallets early in learning to play percussion to avoid serious problems later.
by Billy Madison
Today, matched grip is the most common grip used primarily because it is versatile and can be applied to many different percussion instruments. It is called matched grip because both hands hold the stick or mallets in exactly the same manner. Pick up the sticks or mallets with the heads pointing forward, using your index fingers and thumbs while keeping them one third of the distance from the end. The thumb and the curve of the index finger's top knuckle should hold the sticks or mallets in place and the other fingers should curve around the sticks or mallets in a relaxed manner. Be relaxed and don't squeeze. The sticks or mallets should be resting in the palm of the hand, which should be facing downward. I tell my students to make sure the backs of their hands are facing the ceiling and not the walls.
Once the sticks or mallets are in the hand, the player should let his/her arms relax and rest by their sides. Next raise the arms till the sticks are a couple of inches above the instrument, with the arms, above the elbows, in the same position as when they were relaxed by the sides. Place the tips close together in the center of the head or bar so that the space between the sticks or mallets forms the shape of a piece of pie. With the wrist, raise a stick or mallet approximately 6 to 8 inches then strike the instrument and allow the stick or mallet to rebound back to the up or ready position for the next stroke. Practice this stroke alternating between the right and left hand.
Proper grip and stroke are shown to a student during the first few lessons and then often, unfortunately, are not addressed again since emphasis is placed on new elements of the student's development. Proper grip and stroke are basic and should be continually monitored and corrected when necessary. Failure to do so will negatively affect many essential techniques that must be mastered. One should frequently take a look at his/her hands during practice to see that everything is being done correctly.
Billy Madison holds the BME (Instrumental Music), the MM (Music Theory and Composition) and the SCCT in music. All three degrees were taken at Arkansas State University. He has studied composition with Jared Spears and Tom O'Connor. Since 1978 Madison has been a percussionist with the Northeast Arkansas Symphony Orchestra and has taught instrumental music in the Arkansas Public Schools for fifteen years. Madison currently resides in Newport, Arkansas.
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BREATHING, PART 2
In the last issue two problems related to breathing were listed: (1) Shoulders being raised when inhalation takes place and (2) No concept of what "supporting the tone" means.
by Harlow E. Hopkins
1. Concerning raising the shoulders, we don't do it when we breathe naturally and little or no upward shoulder movement should be observed when inhalation takes place prior to producing sound on a wind instrument. Raising the shoulders usually produces a drawing in of the abdominal area, thus reducing lung capacity. The primary point of difference should be seen in the amount of movement--the amount of expansion--in the mid-section of the body.
There are undoubtedly other methods and readers are encouraged to share them with the author, who will in turn share them with readers in a future issue of Lines and Spaces.
- Lying on one's back, as mentioned last time, is one method of providing the player with the proper concept.
- Standing with one's back against a wall, with the feet several inches away from the baseboard is another possibility.
- The psychological concept of thinking of drawing the air in "through the navel" has also been effective on occasion.
2. "Supporting" the tone is another essential ingredient in successful wind instrument playing.
In the last issue an early experience was recounted of being instructed to lie on the back and play my clarinet. Another equally useful exercise is to, while reclining face up, place a book on the abdomen and ask the person to breathe deeper and deeper and see how high the book can be raised.
The next step is to then ask the reclining individual to take a deep breath and to keep the book in the raised position while blowing a small stream of air gently out through the mouth as if playing an instrument. This should successfully introduce the concept of supporting the tone.
Some teachers ask the student to breathe in deeply and then say "hup", continuing to keep the mouth shut. One can feel the abdominal muscles flex thus keeping the diaphragm in a downward position. Then request that the expanded condition be retained while expending a small stream of air.
A final exercise which may help to instill the concept of expansion around the middle of the body as one inhales, is to ask the student to place her/his hands on the sides with the fingers to the front and thumbs to the back. After expansion is obviously taking place, then have the student reverse the hands with the thumb to the front and fingers toward the back. If deep breathing is taking place, the student should feel expansion taking place on both sides of the spine.
Harlow Hopkins holds a Bachelor's degree from Olivet Nazarene University, a Master's degree from the American Conservatory of Music (Chicago), and a D.Mus. from Indiana University, Bloomington. His teaching career took place at Olivet Nazarene University (Kankakee, Illinois) where he taught 42 years, conducted bands for 39 years, and chaired the Division of Fine Arts and the Department of Music for 29 years. Hopkins retired in 1996 and continues to reside in Bourbonnais, Illinois, and teach part time at ONU, play clarinet, co-conduct a New Horizons Band and edit newsletters.
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LINES OF NOTE
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Music is one of the fairest and most glorious gifts of God, to which Satan is a bitter enemy, for it removes from the heart the weight of sorrow, and the fascination of evil thoughts. Martin Luther
It would be nice to hear someone accidentally whistle something of mine, somewhere, just once. Leonard Bernstein (1960)
Music is the fourth great material want of our nature, first food, then raiment, then shelter, then music. Bovee
(Of Beethoven's Symphony No. 5) Ouf! Let me get out; I must have air. It's incredible! Marvelous! It has so upset and bewildered me that when I wanted to put on my hat, I couldn't find my head...One ought not to write music like that! Jean Francois Le Sueur
Afterwards the pastor asked the man where he had gone. "I went to get a haircut," was the reply.
"But," said the pastor, Why didn't you do that before the service?
"Because," the gentleman said, "I didn't need one then."
Pastor's Announcement Before Offering: "I would like to remind you that what you are about to give is deductible, cannot be taken with you, and the love of which is considered in the Bible the root of all evil, with one dollar bills and loose change being exempt."
- Air Pollution is a mist-demeanor
- Atheism is a non-prophet organization
- Boycott shampoo... Demand REAL poo!
- Clones are people, two
- COLE'S LAW: Thinly sliced cabbage
- Does the name Pavlov ring a bell?
- Dyslexics have more fnu
- Editing is a rewording activity
- Energizer bunny arrested- charged with battery
- Entropy isn't what it used to be
- Eschew obfuscation
- Help stamp out and eradicate superfluous, unnecessary, repetitive redundancy
- Microbiology Lab: Staph Only!
- No sense being pessimistic--it probably wouldn't work anyway
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Preach Christ Always
And As A Last Resort
St. Francis of AssisiA pastor, known for his lengthy sermons, noticed a man get up and leave during the middle of his message. The man returned just before the conclusion of the service. Music, of all the liberal arts has the greatest influence over the passions, and is that to which the legislator ought to give the greatest encouragement. Napoleon Robert Ewing is another of the David E. Smith Publications' many arrangers. His relationship with Dave began in 1985 when he submitted his first manuscript.
Preach Christ Always
And As A Last Resort
St. Francis of Assisi
by Phil Norris
BASIC BRASS TECHNIQUESSilence is Golden someone once said. The speaker may have been a teacher who was relaxing in an empty classroom before leaving for home following a very hectic day. Or, it might have been a choir or church orchestra director surveying the empty chairs following a rehearsal.
THE LONE ARRANGER'S SPACE
by Dana F. Everson
IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF AN ARRANGER