Fall is here, and as the leaves begin to change and the days grow shorter thoughts will turn to that most magical of Autumn holidays. Halloween is time for kids and adults alike to celebrate all things scary and strange, to build epic costumes, eat all the candy they can gather, and play spooky pieces of music. Halloween concerts are a great chance for your ensemble to have some fun, and SmartMusic has the repertoire to help, with everything from gothic favorites like “Night on Bald Mountain” to novelty songs about zombies, vampires and space aliens.
Last week and this week, we’re turning the repertoire spotlight on a few of our recent Halloween-themed releases; you can find more by going to Find Music, clicking Advanced Search Options, and setting Genre to “Holiday and Patriotic.”
Dark Shadows, by Danny Elfman (arranged by Victor Lopez)
Audio provided by Alfred Music Publishing Co., Inc.
Director Tim Burton’s 2012 movie version of Dark Shadows brought the cult-classic series to the big screen, and featured an all-star cast led by Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Helena Bonham Carter.
Imagine a reluctant vampire with an irresistible allure. Next, intertwine this character with a mysterious ingenue who is inexorably drawn to him, a jealous vixen from his past who is both seductress and sorceress, and a strange family in a creepy old mansion with secrets around every corner. These were the hallmarks of the original “Dark Shadows” television series, which broke the mold of daytime television in the late 1960s, and these are the elements that Danny Elfman, that master of quirky horror-comedy, brought to the big screen in 2012.
Danny Elfman has been a longtime collaborator of Burton’s, scoring the soundtracks to many of the director’s best known movies, including Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, Batman, Beetlejuice, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and The Corpse Bride.
This arrangement by Victor Lopez puts the main themes from Elfman’s “Dark Shadows” soundtrack into a convenient and entertaining medley form. Cleverly depicting the intensity of the original score, the repetitive mode of this medley makes it very easy to learn and rehearse. This piece provides a great opportunity to introduce cinematic soundtrack music to young ensembles. Such exposure will increase an awareness of the artistic, historical, and commercial value of film music.
Hound of the Baskervilles, by Mekel Rogers
Audio performed by The Washington Pops, The Washington Winds and/or The Studio A Big Band, Conducted by Edward S. Petersen (P) Studio Productions, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s novel Hound of the Baskervilles is one of the greatest mysteries ever written and is the most celebrated adventure in the Sherlock Holmes canon. In the story, Holmes and Watson try to solve the mystery surrounding the Baskerville family curse in which a fierce demonic hound hunts down and murders its victims. The climactic scene sees Sir Henry Baskerville being chased through the night fog by the hound as Holmes and Watson pursue in an attempt to prevent Sir Henry’s murder.
The composition “Hound of the Baskervilles” seeks to depict this climactic scene musically. Oscillating woodwind lines throughout the piece represent the swirling fog on the moor while driving percussion rhythms depict the chase through the dark. Pay special attention to the many dynamic changes throughout the piece to convey a sense of proximity and distance. The interplay between sections portrays the different characters searching in the fog, and should make full use of the variety of timbres. The slapstick conclusion of the piece recalls the shots fired from Holmes’ pistol that slay the hound as it attacks.
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If you are an educator, musician, composer or student with a suggestion for a “piece of the week” blog post, you can email your suggestion to Griffin at [email protected]. Please let me know the name of the piece, composer, publisher, and why this piece is special to you.