Regal March Analysis #2 (aka What I learned from John O’Reilly)

Well, here is the long-awaited sequel to the smash hit blog post of the summer…Regal March Analysis #1By all accounts, it’s a non-stop, thrilling roller-coaster ride of emotions. As promised in that post, here is a score reduction of Regal March (RegalMarch_ScoreReduction).

I noted in the previous post that there are only the following “real” parts – Flute, Clarinet, Alto Sax, Trumpet and a generic bass part. The only problem is, at this point I was used to writing for ensembles where I had 3 trumpets, or 2 altos, 2 tenors and a baritone sax. In those cases, voicing a chord was easy – 3 trumpets = root, 3rd, 5th. Simple! The bass part is easy to sort out, but what do you do with the other instruments? How do you voice a chord so that it is balanced? From my analysis of John O’Reilly’s piece I found:

  1. There are no 3 part triadic structures in the upper voices. It’s always either one or two notes against the bass note (or unison with the bass note). This leaves you with 4 instruments and either 1 or two notes to distribute.
  2. One note is easy: Cl/AS/Tpt in unison with the Fl 8va (i.e. Fl – CL/AS/Tpt).
  3. When there are 2 notes to distribute, the most common choice was: Fl – Tpt in octaves = melody note, Cl+AS in unison = harmony note. This is what I primarily used throughout Regal March. It is  illustrated here –

    Regal March Voicing Ex.1

    Regal March Voicing Ex.1

  4. Bearing in mind that the flute will always double one of the other 3 instruments the octave above, your other two choices are:
    • Fl – Cl = melody, Tpt+AS = harmony. Given students lack of dynamic control, it’s very easy for the Tpt/AS combination to overpower the Fl – Cl combination
    • Fl – AS = melody, Tpt+Cl = harmony.

Some other useful scoring options are:

  1. High vs Low. I used this approach at b.13-16
  2. Band vs. Percussion. I used this approach at b.29-33
  3. WW’s vs Brass. I didn’t use this approach in this piece, but did use it in another easy level piece The Forge of Vulcan. I’ll Look at this piece more closely in later posts.

I also followed John O’Reilly’s pattern in terms of when to change scoring/voicing approach. Notice that in every section, the scoring approach stays relatively constant. For instance in b.5-12 Fl-Tpt = melody, Cl+AS = harmony. At b.13 the approach changes to “high vs low”, then to unison tutti, then returns to the approach used in b.5-12. This does two things – it helps delineate the form, which is good no matter what level you are writing at, and students are able to comprehend what their “job” is quite easily. (e.g. “flutes at b.5-12 you have the melody.”).

That’s all for this week, feel free to add your comments or ask questions.

 

Tags: , , , ,

One response to “Regal March Analysis #2 (aka What I learned from John O’Reilly)”

  1. Chrissy Ricker says :

    Dear Tim, I just came across your website, and I am finding it very helpful! I am a composer of educational piano music here in the U.S., and I have just started to venture into concert band territory. My training in orchestration and instrumentation was many years ago, and I have been struggling with what to do with all those instruments (so many saxophones!) Your method of simplifying the piece to a few key parts is very helpful. I also really enjoyed listening to the concert band pieces you wrote.

    Anyway, I hope you continue to post here as your schedule permits. Thank you!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: