Bonus Features: Festive Overture
I had a couple more things to talk about with Festive Overture, but the last post was getting a bit long. So here’s another “bonus features” post.
First off is our piece as played by a concert band. Bands frequently play pieces that were originally for orchestra. An arranger takes the parts and rewrites them for the instruments in the band. So the violin parts get redistributed to flutes, clarinets and oboes; saxes, bassoons and bass clarinets get the viola and cello parts. The low brass get more of the string bass parts, etc.
So why do all that? Because we can 🙂 Why should the orchestras have all the fun? You could liken it to when rock bands do cover songs. It’s another way of expressing and hearing the music. Some arrangements try to be as faithful to the original work as possible. These arrangements are considered to be “transcriptions”. The arranger doesn’t add his own voice to the piece outside of some decisions as to what instrument plays which part. Other times, the arranger manipulates the original – he changes the time signature, modifies the melody, stuff like that.
So here’s a transcription for band by Donald Hunsberger. The key has been moved down a half step from A to A♭. There are practical reasons for changing the key in that different instruments have an easier time with certain keys over others. So the group you’re writing for can influence which key you use. Sure, we musicians should be able to play in all keys, but I figure why makes things harder than they need to be?
Do you like one version better than the other? What differences did you hear in the instruments? Did you notice when one section of the piece was played by a different instrument than in the orchestral version?
I have one more recording to share. We’re back to the orchestral version, but listen to how fast they go! Holy cow! I came across this one while searching for just the right one to use in my discussion post. While I admire how well they play, I prefer the slower one. With tempo, there is often some wiggle room for interpretation. Composers will sometimes specify a metronome marking (which specifies speed as “beats per minute”). I tend to see more general terms, such as allegro (fast), maestoso (majestically), etc.
Here’s the warp speed version:
And that wraps up our discussion of Shostakovich’s Festive Overture. I hope you enjoyed it!