I’m arranging Harbor.

The bridge makes me weep. I sit by myself in my room and cry because it’s so beautiful and it makes me feel so happy.

I’m a very poor arranger–that is, I’m very literal. About everything. I do no “arranging”–I merely transcribe. This makes for bad arrangements that still almost work becuase I choose songs to arrange wherein a literal translation of notes from guitar (or in this case, piano) to voice is marginally OK. Of course, I haven’t run into problems, becuase this is only my second song. Listening to Clockwork and The Idea of North, I coudn’t believe how “simple” their arrangements were. Obviously “simple” is the wrong word, they’re not actually “simple,” but what I’m trying to say is that their arrangements had measures of “ooo” in a chord. You know? I can’t handle that. I can’t trust that my group will get the message (message? maybe what I mean is rhythm? feeling of the song?) across with just “ooo”-ing a chord. So I must have “doo(3beats) doo(3beats) doo(2beats) doo(2beats)” instead of just “ooo.” I have a small feeling in the back of my mind that the simple “ooo” might be more effective, that the “doo(3beats) doo(3beats) doo(2beats) doo(2beats)” will become muddled over time, but I can’t resist the pull of the many-notes-temptation. Also, the verses are in FRICKIN’ 5/4!!! You know, like, “ONE two three TWO two three THREE and FOUR and” and “ONE and TWO and THREE and FOUR and FIVE and” AT THE SAME TIME!!!!!!!!! So I have to emphasize the rhythm. I HAVE to!!!

I’m really ambitious. You’d never know it from the way I conduct my life normally, but I’m in it for the glory.

Yes, the verses are 5 beats per measure. The choruses are 6 beats per measure, except for this one place where it’s 8 (I broke that measure down into one measure of 3 and one measure of 5). And the bridge, the glorious bridge, o magical bridge, reason for my tears of joy, has 7 beats per measure. And the thing after the bridge and the chorus is this indeterminable meter that I haven’t dealt with yet. I think it’s just going to be a 40-beat measure or something. Bar lines are for the weak?

I didn’t even notice the meter thing until I was sitting in Jenny’s house in Seattle pretending to play it on the guitar, and I couldn’t strum with it worth crap. “Oh,” I finally realized, “there’s… AN EXTRA BEAT! OH MY FUCKING GOD!!!” And then I told other people, who also said they hadn’t noticed. directdk sampled this one song in Japanese that’s 5 beats per measure, and in that one you can really feel the odd meter. But that’s because “ONE two three FOUR five” is more easily noticable as “odd” than “ONE two three TWO two three THREE and FOUR and.” (I’m unsure how to get the meter business across to you. Obviously I’m not *really* counting “beats” in “ONE two three TWO two three THREE and FOUR and.” The real beat two comes on the “three” of the “ONE.” And the “THREE” comes on the “real” beat four. Oh god. Never mind.)

Derek told her I was arranging it. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Also she’s heard of DeCadence before. She was in the Harmonics for a year.

Also, after I got the rest of the group to listen to it, some fell rabidly in love with the song who had never heard of Vienna Teng before. Carolyn sent me a text message (she has never sent me a text message before, ever) that said, and I quote: “I luv that song! Cant stop lYstenYing 2 it! Aah!” And then Chris came up to me and said “So, I’m interested in knowing, what other songs are you arranging? Becuase the others you have arranged I really, really, really, really liked.” “Had you heard of Vienna Teng before?” I asked. “No, but I have her CDs now…” What better way to introduce 13 (give or take) other people into rabid frothing fandom than to arrange a song? Hello Guster.

Must… get… it… on… CD… will… kill… for… this… purpose… (porpoise?)…


  1. Sadly enough (or maybe happily enough – MUSIC NERD POWER!) I actaully get exactly what you mean when you’re doing the rhythm counts. But I’ve never heard the song, so your arrangement will be my introduction!

    BTW, did you get my evite for this saturday night?

  2. meters

    you might want to arrange it in 10/8, 6/8, and 7/8. I think that’s what you were trying to desribe unless you want to break the 10/8 into 6/8 +2 (2/8)s. that might actually be easier to direct/read. y’know? ONE two three FOUR five six SEVEN eight NINE ten? or ONE two three FOUR five six ONE two ONE two.
    eh? eh?

    1. Re: meters

      I already tried doing it in 8 but then switched to 4 because she happened to say during a live concert “and some parts are in 5/4 and some parts are in 6/4” … folly of mine.

      Also the sheet music on her website has it in /8.

      Oh well. Too late now.

      I didn’t like how the /8 looked anyway. Too confusing. For some reason eighth notes are more confusing than quarter notes? I decided I would rather see “dotted quarter, dotted quarter, quarter, quarter” than “dotted eighth, dotted eighth, eighth eighth.” Well that was 5/8.

      10/8 you say? So… that… wouldn’t change anything. I would still use dotted quarter, dotted quarter, quarter, quarter in my notation if one measure was 10/8. (Unless you made the measures twice as long. Never mind) And if you count along with the music, you don’t want to count to 10, you want to count to 5. At least I do.

      Well, you want to do both, really. Yeah, in my brain it’s broken into 3/8 3/8 2/8 2/8 and also 3/4 2/4. The upper busy parts are 3/8 3/8 2/8 2/8 while the bass and especially the percussion is very much 3/4 2/4. So really, either way. I guess since I follow the percussion to count beats I decided on /4.

      My “ONE two three TWO two three THREE and FOUR and” is exactly equivalent to your “ONE two three FOUR five six SEVEN eight NINE ten.”

      ONE two three FOUR five  six   SEVEN eight NINE ten  (10/8?)
      ONE two three TWO  two   three THREE and   FOUR and
      one and two   and  three and   four  and   five and
      ONE     two        three       FOUR        five      (5/4?)

      I guess I don’t really know the difference between, say, 4/4 and 8/8. It’s the same mathematically in my head. And I hear 5 “beats,” not 10, really. Actually what I hear most is “four” “beats” (two of three eighth notes, then two of two eighth notes) but that’s not a meter. I’d have to do it in 2/6 + 2/4 and switch every measure and that would be terrible. hahaha

      1. Re: meters

        Actually, you’re right since I described it as doo(3beats) doo(3 beats) doo(2 beats) doo(2beats). What I really meant was doo(3halfbeats) doo(3 halfbeats) doo (2 halfbeats) doo (2 halfbeats). hahahhaa

        1. Re: meters

          yeah, the rythym patterns you describe are usually notated in 5/4, not 10/8. in fact, you almost never see 10/8, except in music that doesn’t have a reoccuring rythmic break down. you’re likely to only find 10/8 in something like stravinsky, where it might be sandwiched between a bar of 3/8 and a bar of 11/8, and so would be natural in that context.

          1. Re: meters

            true, but it’s the emphasis that matters. for 5/4 if it is just the one, four and five that is emphasized, 5/4 is fine, but if the first three beats are actaully emphasized like a 6/8 (the swingy ONE two three FOUR five six) then that should be accounted for in meter.

            But actually, the way you write it only matters the first two meetings. once the group learns it, the rhythm will be by ear and feel, niot by waht’s on the paper. no worries.

          2. feet?

            that (3)(3)(2)(2) beat grouping has traditionally been written in 5/4, going back (at least) to stravinsky and bartok, and probably earlier then that. it would weird me out as a performer to be sightreading a piece of music notated in 10/8 with that metric grouping. on the other hand, when i see 5/4, i know i can reasonably expect to see (2)(2)(2)(2)(2) or (3)(3)(2)(2), or possibly both. anything else should probably be in 10/8, with the exception of the variants (2)(3)(3)(2) and (2)(2)(3)(3).

            for me as a musician, good beaming and phrase markings are far more important then the notated meter anyway (though the beaming should reflect the meter). i can actually see the beaming while i’m singing/playing the notes. the notated meter is just something that’s subconciously in the back of my head.

          3. Re: feet?

            true that. sightreading music that doesn’t beam accurately the rhythmic emphasis is hard to decipher on the fly.
            Have fun conducting it, judy. It just still seems weird to conduct the first 3 beats when the emphasis happens halfway between the 2nd and 3rd beat. Oh wait.. triplets.
            Steve’s turn! i am bored at work answering phones :S
            wait, now that i think of it, have we hammered this into the ground yet, and is this only something interesting to 3 of us?

          4. Re: feet?

            oh, we can still beat it to death a little more.

            on that note: just ’cause it’s written in 5/4 doesn’t mean you can’t conduct it with a 4/4 pattern (3)(3)(2)(2). but, i find it pretty easy to conduct a normal 5/4 pattern even with the emphasis on beat 2.5. try it! hum the vamp from “take five”, and conduct in 5. easier then you’d think it would be.

            for real fun, try to conduct in 5 while singing a rhythm that’s actually in 2:

            ONE and two and three AND four and five and

            or say,

            one and TWO and THREE and four AND five AND

            that’ll really mess with you. i wrote a piece for the jazz band at brown that involved that subdivision, and it was a *pain* to teach, until i got them to feel it in two (which is itself weird, because feeling it in two involves dividing the beat into… five parts)

          5. Re: feet?

            I dunno, for me when I’m trying to learn the music, that meter matters a lot…. there was one song I had that was notated in 4/4 which was actually 6/8 and it drove me nuts until I figured it out, and even after I knew it, I still couldn’t count it correctly when trying to fix my rhythm problems. *cough* Favorite Things *cough* (sorry George!)

            I say just go with whichever meter makes it more readable, screw Stravinsky and Bartok! (I suspect that’ll be 10/8)

          6. Re: feet?

            eh, i guess it’s a matter of personal preference. myself, i’d track down the arranger and beat them with a stick if they wrote it in 10/8. (you hear that judy!?)

          7. Re: feet?

            o noes, a wtfpwnt Beatstick of Musical Wrath with +400 to music dmg and +500 attk pwr to humanoid mobs that arrange in 10/8? i ph33r yooz.

          8. Re: feet?

            nawh, i don’t have the Beatstick of Musical Wrath; that’s an epic world drop. if i got it, i’d sell it in the AH for like 1100 gold. i just have the Conductor’s Bludgeon of Metric Accuracy with +28 music dmg and the ability to dispell one stylistically inaccurate rythmic notation on use (30 minute cooldown).

          9. Re: feet?

            I tried really hard to understand this conversation, but it’s just not happening for me. Yikes.

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