Minor Alterations is a hit!

The piece I wrote last year for the Dallas Wind Symphony‘s Christmas concert is selling like hotcakes for the upcoming holiday season. It is easily the #1 best-seller from the Lovebird Music catalog this year. I was informed this morning that the United States Navy Band will be performing it on Dec. 5th. Have you heard it yet? If not, have a listen:

minor1-band450

The idea started with an arrangement of “Pat-a-pan” that I did in 2006 as a demo of the capabilities of the Garritan Personal Orchestra sample library. Pat-a-pan is such a cool minor-key tune, almost Slavic sounding, and I wanted to slip some other Christmas-themed material into it, so I decided to transpose “Up On The Housetop” to minor. It worked out great and the arrangement was completed…

Several months later, as the DWS Christmas concert approached I came back to the same idea and started to expand on it. Grace and I were driving to my daughter’s orchestra concert when idea started coming quickly and I started giggling. She wanted to know what it was all about and I hummed some “warped” variations to her. She loved the idea. The layers and the “jokes within jokes” came together very quickly; taking tunes like “Here Comes Santa Claus” and transposing them to minor… oh wait, Danny Elfman did it just like that in “Nightmare Before Christmas,” didn’t he? OK, I’ll have to do better. Let’s make it a waltz… yes, that works. In fact it sounds a little like… ooh! Let’s use the accompaniment pattern from Shostakovich’s Waltz No. 2! Gosh, do you think people will get that? Hmm, better drop a couple bars of the melody on the end to make sure…

Then I had to assemble them all into a form. How about arranging them in tempo order from slow to fast, like a Jewish Hora? That way it builds energy from start to finish. Drop the waltz variations in the middle and it works great. It seems to hit the right balance between “sounds nothing like the original” and “oh, I know what tune that was.” And it’s a nice change of pace for Christmas concerts where things can get sickeningly sweet, like too much candy on Christmas morning.

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