Musical Directing – Tues 27th Sep ’16

The person responsible for the musical aspects of a performance or production, typically the conductor or leader of a music group.

During a performance lesson with lecturer Phi, I had to assume the role of musical director and was given the task of re-arranging and performing a piece.

Two musical directors were then nominated, myself being one. We then chose musical styles, 80s disco for me, upbeat pop for the other MD, we swapped genres and were given the jazz standard; “Stars Fell On Alabama”. Tasked with re-arranging this into an upbeat pop style.

I was given a bassist and two guitarists. Lacking a singer we set about jamming parts of the track, both the head, with a bass line and drum beat locked in, one guitar plucking the chords, the other playing the melody line. After reflecting on this I decided that it wasn’t close enough to the genre, carrying a blues feel rather than the pop angle I was going for. Deciding that stripping everything back was the way forward I took a completely different approach to the piece. To start with, I decided to lengthen the time spent on each chord from 2 beats to 4 beats. The chord chart is as follows:

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The obvious difference is that we only played the opening “head” part, and repeated it multiple times, ending up with a catchy poppy sounding song. The guitar playing the melody line was adapted, extending the duration so that it flowed over the chord changes in the chord chart. After trying various drum beats and patterns we settled on a simple groove, and wrote a bass line which matched this.

To complete the arrangement we adapted the structure marginally, letting on guitar start, then bringing in the bass and drums before introducing the melody. Some fills on the drums, and some licks on the guitar were all performed but not notated, these all adding to the ‘pop’ feel of the piece.

Overall, the feedback was that it was resoundingly successful, the feel, tempo, changes that had been made all contributed to the piece fitting the genre we had been assigned. I felt that my main drawbacks were a lack of theory knowledge when it came to simplifying the chords, I was able to do so but not quickly or in a high pressure environment.

 

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