Musical Arrangements: The Swan

If I am giving myself full credit I have been arranging music since I was a kid. (Lots of people may roll their eyes at this, regardless it is an important first step in learning how to arrange music.) I would play along in church with the hymns when I got good enough to read the notes. Then I learned how to read both Bass and Treble Clefs. And because I wasn’t playing in thumb position yet I had to transpose the melody down one octave. That is an arrangement at the most basic level.

In college, I began composing original works. With all that newfound theoretical knowledge I was able to arrange music when needed.

For example, my brothers and I went to Austria for a summer. There we met a singer. We performed several times together and then agreed to play Panis angelicus by Cesar Franck. I, being the composer at the time was the goto guy for arranging the music. I went to work immediately and a day later produced a fresh copy of Panis angelicus for voice, violin, viola, and cello.

This is my earliest arrangement I recall that turned out to sound like more than just a student’s assignment. It was a bonafide piece of music that sounded like something people would enjoy listening to. (The arrangement is lost but this indelible memory is etched into my brain forever.

“The Swan”: Four Cellos

This famous music is known to millions and played by every cellist on the planet. I have been playing this music since the age of 14. I have performed it more than any other single piece of music (more than Bach’s Prelude in G from Suite No. 1).

Last year I wanted to perform it online but wanted it to be different than the usual piano and cello version. I set to work creating a suitable arrangement with 4 cellos instead. What came out was more delightful that I had anticipated.

Here are some screen shots of each of the accompanying parts as a sneak peek before I release the arrangement for sale.

It was fun to re-create a well-loved and beautiful piece. It is, on one level, the same piece with some alterations but on another level a different piece with a concept in mind for making the rippling effect possible on cello playing pizzicato necessitating a simplification of Part 3.