A few years ago I joined The Old Croydonians' Association, a group for people who attended the Selhurst Grammar Schools in England. On their website I found the and decided that sometime I'd like to write an arrangement for orchestra and choir. Fresh from my summer break I finally got around to doing that and the result is now available for your listening pleasure from the News Playlist.
These songs played a part in how my wife Jan and I first got together. At the time I was getting into composing with synthesizers and she asked if she could see my equipment - meaning my music studio set-up!
When she came over to see it she played these songs on my keyboard and I captured them in my DAW music software. We worked on some rough orchestraions of them at the time, but it's only recently that I finished the job.
So here they are, instrumental arrangements of a pop song - A love that was beyond us, and a romantic ballad - Waited so long, over on the News Playlist..
The Raven is a setting of the well-known by American writer Edgar Allan Poe, and is available for your listening pleasure from the News Playlist.There is also a video where you can follow the poem along with the music. .
The piece is written for orchestra and a choir supplemented by a somewhat larger contingent of tenors and altos than is usual. These singers perform most of the poem's text, with the basses largely in support of the tenors, and the sopranos providing an eerie backdrop in the higher register.
The poem has 18 verses, each constructed in a similar manner, resulting in 27 minutes of music. Quite often settings of such verses use the same musical structure (for example in hymns or anthems). However, (partly to avoid the obvious monotony of the same music repeated 18 times!) in The Raven I have chosen not to follow this structure, but rather to treat each verse as a separate movement with different music that reflects the subject of each verse. Intesrestly, in his essay The Philosophy of Composition Poe wrote: "What we term a long poem is, in fact, merely a succession of brief ones — that is to say, of brief poetical effects".
While each verse contains different music, there are a number of unifying elements (unity being something that Poe also felt important). Firstly, the entire piece is in minor keys, reflecting the overall feeling of melancholy in the poem. The piece uses many different keys, both between and within movements, but listeners will probably notice that chord sequences often provide those time-worn feelings of horror movies - eeriness, spookiness - especially in the soprano ooohs and ahs! Also, the music for the refrain in the final line of each verse ("nothing more"; "evermore"; "Nevermore") is similar but slightly varied. You may also notice that the music for the first and last verse is actually the same, albeit in different keys and tempo.
The poem captured my imagination, and I thoroughly enjoyed setting it to music. I hope that you may enjoy it.
A new pop/soul styled version of my setting of Shakespeare's poem "Live with me and be my love".