Christmas music

Posted: November 17, 2014 in arranging, choral
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Arranging Christmas music….every year I believe that I won’t have to do it next year, since I’ve already amassed a pretty substantial library of choral arrangements of Christmas music. And yet, somehow, each year I find ways to inflict more work on myself, just because I think this song would sound nicer if the alto part was x , or if only the piano part was y.

This is entirely my own fault, and in this instance it’s not arranging, really, just meddling with existing arrangements. Now this is kind of the musical equivalent of taking someone else’s recipe and simply changing a few ingredients – not an original or particularly creative piece of work, but requiring some industry nevertheless, and probably a few drafts before you get it right. Why change the ‘ingredients’ at all, you ask?  Well maybe the ones you have in your cupboard are a bit different, and you have neither the means nor the inclination to acquire expensive, specialised  ingredients you’re only going to use once. Or maybe, if you’re lucky, you just think that the ingredients you do have will work better – this bass line was written for a section with a limited range in mind, for example, whereas the basses under my direction actually have a great range and are well able for a more adventurous line.
It’s not just perfectionism on my part, I think most choir directors would agree that it’s always better to go the extra mile for superior musical results. Besides, Christmas is a very, very busy time of year for choirs and if you’re involved with a few of them, you can be prepared for a month or so of little else. So you’d better be pretty keen on those arrangements at the start of the season, because you’re going to be royally fed up of them by the time New Year comes.



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