Hello Mixed Bag arrangement fans.
Over the past few weeks I have been preparing a Mixed bag arrangement of Redbone by Childish Gambino. Over the duration of Prac I decided to teach myself jazz guitar and fell in love with the slow smooth Jazz standards like autumn leaves, Girl from Ipanema and Some where over the rainbow. So when this assignment presented itself I thought that it would be an interesting and fun idea to try and turn a pop piece of music into Jazz standard. Now this is a bit of a strange idea for a mixed bag arrangement but I still think it will be quite enjoyable for a small group of students or even for the whole class. Finding the different melodic ideas where not that hard. It was quite a popular song and gets stuck in your head quite easily. I thought that it would be easy to start this arrangement with the chords. However, I decided to figure out the chords by ear to test my guitar and aural perception ability, it was fun and a more enjoyable process then if I just Google searched the chords but it did take a considerable amount of time and ended up being a bit of a hassle when figuring out the key of the piece. Once I had found the main chords (Bbmaj7 C7 Dm7) I decided to through in a little embellishing chord right at the end of the chord cycle, a G7 just to add a little bit of flavour. After the chords where down, I went to work on the bass line and the ‘lead’ melody, the melody found at part A. This melody I ended up giving to the Violins and labeled it as the “Hard” melody due to its constant movement and medium range. The horn stabs were labeled as easy melody as well as the easy bass. Finally the actual Bass riff was labeled as the hard bass line. These lines where written out to accommodate any Orff instruments who didn’t want to play or fit into the glockenspiel or xylophone parts. I also wrote in an improvisational part to encourage students to explore the piece of music more, to give the students the ability to alter the piece of music and express level of independency that they may not get often in classical stage or chamber band scenarios (Frazee, 1987)However, I have given the students the pentatonic scale for the three main chords as a blank stave can be quite a daunting experience for students that are new to improvisation.
I choose this piece for a variety of reasons not only is it popular and well know by the kids, but it also contains some great aspects of Orff Composition such as pedals, repeating melodies, ostinato and multiple harmonic accompanying parts (Stewart, 2013). Understanding what makes Redbone successful not only as a pop piece of music but also in the mixed band arrangement can help give students an understanding of different compositional devices. As shown in a study by Margaret T. Siemens, students that underwent a Orff style of teaching would not only more engaged and interested in music as a whole but were able to understand rhythmic and melodic elements from a variety of styles of music. However the study also goes to show the students that undertook a ‘classical’ approach to music education understood the mechanics of composition better than the Orff students, the classical students were able to identify and write a verity of chords and compositional devises. It may be beneficial to explore a little of both styles of music when studying Redbone and teaching composition in the classroom. Exploring the loops and Bourdon’s Gambino has used to compose simple pieces of music but also understanding how the chord progression works or how the horn stabs build to create the chord or a certain atmosphere.
You can find a link to my scores here:
Let Me know what you think!
Frazee, J. (1987). Orff Media . Discovering Orff: a curriculum for music teachers , 14-32.
Siemens, M. (1969). A Comparison of Orff and Traditional Instructional Methods in Music. Journal of Research in Music Education , 17 (3), 272-285.
Stewart, C. A. (2013). Facilitating Elemental Composition in an Orff Classroom (Thesis, Master of Education (MEd)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/7575