Monday, 30 September 2013

[My 5 Horns-Part Arrangement] "Blue Bossa": Trumpet, Alto, Tenor & Baritone Saxophone, Trombone

Okay now, after a really long absence, finally I'm back ! 
Well it's because I've been really occupied with working on my school project ! So this course is part of my classes at International College Of Music (ICOM) & really, I have to do well for the class in order to qualify for the Berklee exchange programme !! 
& I can't wait to go study at the awesome Berklee College of Music. Seriously, I'm really looking forward to all the new experiences I could have there, different country, culture, people, music, everything ! Anything that could remove me from this place where I've been for 20 years of my life, oh well, not really 20 because I spent 6 years of that 20 studying in Singapore hahaha.

Okay ! I shall not digress. So this is the first time in my life I'm arranging horn parts for a song. I chose Blue Bossa because for one, I love bossa nova tunes. Another of my favorite bossa tune would be Girl From Ipanema. But for this project, I presume I have to choose something simpler because the tasks involved ain't going to be simple.

Frankly, I'm really never into arranging music at all. Because it involves a really meticulous process and you have to notate everything down in stone, everything would be fixed. If an ensemble is going to play your arrangement, their players are required to sight read exactly. Well, I'm more of a spontaneous person, that's also the reason why I love improvising and soloing because a lot of that is really spontaneous & never fixed ! :D :D

So thanks to this assignment, I had to dedicate many hours & sit in front of the computer entering music notation and notes into Sibelius, a music notation software.

Before this assignment really, I couldn't distinguish between  alto, tenor or baritone saxophones or trombones. But well at least I know better now & I could distinguish between a clean & a distorted guitar sound hahahahah !! Okay, lame joke.

Just to let you know, I would be talking a bit and showing a couple of pictures on a MIDI guitar that I managed to use in sequencing for my project. So for those of you who dread & would like to skip all the music notation, by all means scroll all the way down :D

Now, here is an example of a page from the master score that I had to submit for my class. 

And really, this is not complicated as compared to what I had to notate down in order to export the audio of the tune. I absolutely love this part of the song, the interlude where I had piano and drums play a little trade-off. Wow hahahah !! Does it look complicated ?? Well, if it makes your head go dizzy, I would have achieved my objectives hahahah !

Let me show you more cool stuff, that is if you find it cool.

So this is the last 4 bars of the solo section, trumpet is playing the solo, and the rest of the horns are playing Guide Tone Background Embellishment lines to add interest :D

Oh yeah, for that matter, I wrote down all the piano voicings in the score in order to have it in the audio, though it's not required to be there at all in the actual master score for submission. According to pianists around me, some of the voicings don't really work for their jazz playing in general but weird, ICOM taught that in Arranging For Rhythm Section hahah. But it doesn't matter, in the audio the piano comping sounds really cool though, I really love how the accompaniment sounds like.

See the analysis at the top ? i.e. "5 part clusters" or "4 part clusters" ? We have to analyze the voicing techniques used for the horns. & the chord progression here is actually at the beginning of the song, so it goes I-7 to bIImaj7 and repeat.

Also I just found out that my use of clusters as in the score above is actually wrong. Yup now I recall that clusters are typically used for sustained notes. Lol I must be dreaming when I did that 4 bars in the introduction because I couldn't wait to finish the score !! Hahahah !! I swear it's not fun at all doing all these stuff. But I shall be more careful next time :D :D

So, here is the edited version. I replaced the clusters with just 5-part, 4-part or 3-part voicings:

My ending.

For the ending, though it looks rather simple on paper. It sounds awesome though. I love the ending. It gives a really fresh & different twist to the rest of the song.

I would love to share the audio of my arrangement here, but I haven't found out how to attach it here though as an mp3 file.

I shall show you the rest of the stuff I had to submit as well:

This is the first page of the extracted trombone part, that you would hand to a trombone player if an ensemble is going to play your arrangement :D

Hmm, let me see. What about drum parts :D :D

This is bar 25 to 40 of my extracted drum part :D 
Yippie yay!

Oh yeah, what about a 6-plet fill-ins during the interlude section that features a mini trade-off between the piano and the drums:

And my ending has tons of kicks over time whereby our Mr. Drummer has to play those rhythms on top of his existing groove:

Now to my arrangement diagram ! Apparently it is supposed to give people a general overview of the voicing techniques used for the horns throughout the entire song. 
This is from bar 1 to bar 32 of my arrangement:

MIDI guitar time !
I actually had my hands on one of those MIDI guitars out there as well for sequencing my arrangement. Here are a couple of pictures of it !

I have to thank Mr. Rishabh for lending me his MIDI guitar ! He was my teacher for MIDI class when I was in semester 2 in ICOM. He is super into sound production & sound engineering those complicated technical stuff. Hahahah !

Colorful fretboard !!

Maybe guitar companies could do that to their live-sized guitars, and I would be playing an Ibanez with colorful fretboards in no time hahahah !!

Seriously headless.

Okay, the controls:

Well I sequenced a bit of my project using this guitar. Of course it feels really different from real guitars. It doesn't even have physical strings on its frets and the string spacing are really much much smaller and for that matter, I actually miss the strings when I pick with my right hand. And guitarists would understand that, the strings on the body of the MIDI guitar doesn't feel like guitar strings !! And the feeling is a bit disturbing hahahah ! 

It feels weird to be picking to those strings and eventually I switched on the "Tap" button on the guitar and settled for touch contact instead. Well, it is very very touch sensitive, the notes easily ring out once you touch or tap the frets, so there is no need to hammer on it hardly just to get a sound just like what you might need to do for your acoustic guitar pieces.

Well, I gotta mention this. This MIDI guitar has a tremolo so if you might be looking for something to go crazy with or have fun with, hahahah by all means try all the software instruments available in your music software and you could be playing piano sounds, or drum sounds by just picking away at a guitar, and of course by playing around with the tremolo. It's cool though, when using the drum patch, you could have the hi-hat sounds or bass kick sounds just by playing your guitar frets. Hahahah !!

Okay that's all for now on this assignment of mine :D

Oh yeah before I forget, of course I need to thank my arranging tutor, Freddie for the guidance hahah.

And guess what ? Apparently for my next arranging assignment to be handed up 7 weeks later, I would have to write for between 7 to 13 horn parts. Oh my gosh !

Stay tuned for a future post where I will post my guitar tabs for tunes such as Wonderful Slippery Thing by Guthrie Govan that I'm learning right now (Well hopefully !! Because the rhythmic patterns in there are really complicated so it would take some effort to tab it !!)! I would really want to video myself playing that once I nail it inside out !! :D :D Nonetheless, tabs to be posted would definitely include tunes by Charlie Parker etc...

By the way, just to let you guys know, I've got a big crush on Pat Martino's playing and soloing lately !! My gosh I remembered maybe only half a year ago I couldn't appreciate his playing, but now I realized wow, I really start to see and in fact fall in love with the beauty of his phrasing damn ! I saw someone on Youtube cover Pat Martino's solo on Sunny exactly, well I think I want to do just that !

Okay anyways, see ya. Hope this post increased your awareness of horns arranging if you are curious what actually happens behind the scenes, or what happens in the minds of the great arrangers :D And of course bearing in mind, this project of mine is only the simplest form of horn arranging, simplest mind you hahahah !

Anyway, a simple question for you guys. Do you think arranging for horn parts is a complicated task ?

Catch you guys again :D
Love ya,
Sapphire Ng <3 <3

Sunday, 15 September 2013

15 More Life-Impacting Quotes To Inspire & Enrich Your Life (Part 2)

Hi guys !! This is part 2 of my collection of inspiring quotes series !! I can't express more how much I appreciate all these shrewd reflection of life penned down by really wise people in our community. So I really want to thank whoever wrote these words of wisdom, they continue to inspire me everyday !! :D

And, so here it is. Hope what I have assembled here helps you through your life as well. Good luck and all the best !!

So let's start off with words of advice on success principles. Over time I have really come to learn the relevance and application of each point below and what can I say, they are really true despite how you may not understand the rationale yet.

Keep persisting in your passion or whatever you are doing despite let downs and failures. You are not alone, everyone experiences it, I do too :)

I think this is great in reminding all of us that oftentimes the results we get out of life are what we have put in. So do not be laden with jealousy, you don't know their story of hard work behind all the "talent" on the surface.

This quote below I believe points out to us the contradictions within each of us. We have our big dreams and want to achieve big things, but at the same time we are afraid to take that step out of our comfort zone. I think it provides a very logical and practical way to deal with the inner fear, by knowing that challenges faced along the way is a natural and mandatory part of striving high.

Never trivialize someone else's success by attributing it to their "luck" or "inborn talent". You just haven't had the privilege to witness them working hard over the years.

This really is applicable to every professional field but I would like to highlight this one field that is particularly prone to trivialization of their efforts. 

This accusation happens a lot especially to our great supermodels of today such as Karlie Kloss whom standing tall at 185cm is always said to be the lucky receiver of the gene factor, or Alessandra Ambrosio or Candice Swanepoel who are born with striking good looks. 

People often forget the fact that there are tons of competition within the modeling industry with so many other girls with similar height (well except for Karlie's height) and equally outstanding looks. Karlie is a killer at the catwalk and Alessandra & Candice have honed such a distinctive sensual way of posing and body language that many can't imitate ! So, let's not forget all the hard work and dedication that went behind others' success :D :D

Similarly, always remember that success is never easy. The next time you are tempted to self-console by giving the conclusion that others' success was obtained easily, think again. I think this image below expresses it very poignantly and simply:

 Thus, do not simplify others' journey to success, you have absolutely no idea what they went through. There is always a story of hardwork behind every success, and just because it ain't presented for the consumption of the public eye doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

Okay, next on to a quote on discipline :) :)

Wow I absolutely love how this quote puts into perspective clearly the 2 things that oftentimes keep people's decisions torn apart. I personally love this quote a lot and it ties in with what I just read about delayed gratification. So don't rush or feel impatient that certain results you are seeking doesn't materialize now because when it does, it is going to be unstoppable and unbeatable ! :D

A leader is someone who breaks new grounds on what is possible within human ability that is never before shown nor displayed and thus serves as a role model to inspire others to do the same.

Don't give up your bigger dreams in search of instant gratification.

Understand and accept that downtimes in your life is a natural part of life and you would then be able to face it with much greater positivity.

I must admit how this quote below gives me more strength each day. So for all of you guys out there, let's keep working hard together, and everything will pay off !!

This is for those of you who feel alienated or marginalized by others simply because you are way better than the majority. Well as the cliche always goes that people in general hate acknowledging or giving approval to members of their peers who are way superior to them in terms of ability because it makes them feel inferior internally. 

Oftentimes these people would group with their similar-ability and thinking peers to solidify confidence in themselves and some even to collectively criticize you. 

Psychologically there have been many many explanations, and assaulting you as a group would reduce guilt as an individual as it provides less need to conform to societal expectations of graciousness to members of our society. Similarly it allows them to feel better of themselves by putting you down.

Nonetheless, keep staying focused and working on your goals, ultimately you will reach a stage whereby your haters or peers can't continue to ignore your accomplishments any longer because your influence on society have become so far-reaching and unstoppable.

I think we have to keep reminding ourselves that quitting is a permanent action of stopping constructive actions of working towards our dreams and goals, but that setbacks are merely temporary. So it is practically not worthwhile to give up when faced with a transient defeat.

Doubt hinders progress as people will be reluctant and hesitant to make moves. Without action, nothing is possible. We shouldn't feel deterred to take the first step to our goals simply because of the fear of failure because once we accept that failure is merely the stepping stone to greater success, there really is no reason to fear.

When you find yourself worrying that time will take away your reputation and abilities that you have spent so many years and effort meticulously crafting, really do not fret. Only non-authentic, low-quality things cannot stand the test of time. The rest, is golden.

Okay, here is all for the second post for this series :D Hope these quotes really served you well. Well, they made a big difference to my life and I hope they can bring this positive influence to your life as well ! :D

Stay tuned for more posts. Join as a member on my blog to be the first to receive updates as they are posted too :D :D

Love ya,
Sapphire Ng <3 <3

Saturday, 14 September 2013

A Treasure Load Of 15 Inspiring Quotes To Constantly Enrich Your Life

Hello there ! In this post I will collect all the quotes that really inspire me a lot day by day, those that really reinforces my mindset, that corroborates perspectives that I believe in life and of course those that reflects my perception of reality. 

I believe these quotes would really mean a lot to you as they are to me, so go ahead read them and ingest them :D
Good Luck !! 

Perseverance and persistence. Hardships and difficulties are always a stepping stone to something greater, just keep working at it and do not give up.


Dreams are always never too big nor crazy. It is only for the bold who dare to dream and work towards their goals. There is a reason why those people who scorn your dreams have always remained wherever they have been.

This is so true especially when going out of our comfort zone. While the prospects may seem enticing, it is the uncertainty and fear that holds us back most of the time and stop us from trying new things that we always wanted to try.

Sometimes it's really not about taking anyone's instructions as to what we should or should not do. We have to rise above it without getting hindered by a self-made barrier. Thinking about whether people would allow you to do something would never get you started. On the other hand, overcoming people who have come to stop you in your path indicates your already ongoing efforts.

Goals keep people motivated and constantly striving; on the other hand, you can't control people around you, they come and go. An over-attachment to the environment and momentary friends would only rob you of energy and vitality.

It really is about working smart and productive, not about working hard and clumsy.

Don't resent the existence of a certain someone in your life. They are there to teach you something, give you a life lesson no matter how hard a lesson it may be, inspire you, make you realize something - if you think closely you will find out why they are there.

Comfortable and relaxing nights are the ones spent to recuperate and enjoy, but not those that stimulated profound progress in your life. So, thank those days that were rough because they made you grow.

It doesn't make practical sense to give up simply because results don't materialize as soon as you think it should - it all goes back to the fact that the reason why you put in so much effort into it is because it means a lot to you and your life.

This really allows one to regard an issue from a poignant perspective often neglected or unknown to most. Often it is the lack of confidence that stops people from progressing.

Over-thinking and over-stressing the unknown would only be counter-productive to anyone's current state of being. Not only it doesn't add value to your life at all, it drains you of energy.

I totally agree with this and love this. This often applies to the case of jealousy, where people just hate on people, belittle and judge them simply because they felt insecure. This is particularly relevant as well in reinforcing the fact that people shouldn't judge by appearances because the truth is often far from it.

This can apply broadly to societal expectations and demands, as well as to peer pressure. This can certainly remind people of the fact that oftentimes when someone fears the disapproval and judgment of others, he/she fails to recognize that those people actually are insignificant in his/her life and actually holds no practical or real value in impacting his/her life. They can just be acquaintances, but it certainly just ends at that. Worrying about acquaintances' judgment of you is like investing a lot of time and energy into something that ultimately doesn't affect your life at all.

People with real confidence do not need social approval of the choices they make. Only people who are insecure of their decisions need a horde of other people expressing agreement to their choices.

Oftentimes we compare ourselves to others without realizing the fact that the reason why they have achieved a greater success than we have is because they have already been through the stages of hardship and difficulties that we are currently going through or are going to go through in the future.

Okay, here is all for this first edition of this series of posts. Hope this really inspired you to see things in a way you have never seen before and help you improve your life.

Always stay inspired.
Love ya,
Sapphire Ng <3 <3

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

"Pick Up The Pieces" Guitar TABS and Music Score (Candy Dulfer/Average White Band)

Hi all ! How are you guys doing ?
Firstly, I have to thank you daveeldredgeband who sent me a message to my Youtube channel requesting for a TAB for a tune I performed live at my school "Pick Up the Pieces".

Well, here you go daveeldredgeband :) Since you requested, here it is.

Things to take note of in my TAB & lead sheet:
-I tabbed according to the version I performed, which is actually a combination of a few youtube versions of Candy Dulfer's rendition of the song.

-The order of the attacks are not strictly according to what is played in Candy Dulfer's versions.

-If you've heard my version of the song (just scroll on down, the video is right below :D), after my guitar solo, there is a 8-bar drums and bass trade-off, with another attack in the 8th bar. 

The attack comprises of 7-notes and is actually an adaptation from Jaco Pastorius' tune "The Chicken". The original version of the attack is 8-notes long, but of course for my band's performance of "Pick Up The Pieces" we have to leave out the last note which is the resolution note, as we transitioned immediately to a "Pick Up The Pieces" attack. I personally love the blend of attacks from different tunes because it creates interest :D

You can leave out the drums and bass trade-offs in your song (after your solo) if you are not keen to include that in.

-Also for my performance, my solo section was on cue, which means that there was no fixed number of bars that I would solo. I would just cue the whole band when I'm done with soloing. So if you would like to fix the length of your solo, by all means just tell your band that you would like your solo to be 16 bars only or 32 bars or 64 bars.

But for the rest of you who would like to try an on-cue solo section, it would be fun hahaha. But you would need some practicing with the band to make sure that your drummer, bassist and other instrumentalists can read your eye signals correctly. 

You could try head gestures too if you like, but with time and chemistry your band can automatically sense that you have reached the climax of your solo and judging by the type of phrasing you are playing at that moment, know that you have come to the end of your solo.

If you are wondering what I mean by that, you can have a listen to my live performance. Towards the end of my solo, you would have noticed that I have resorted to a relatively constant stream of a repeated 5-note group. And with a 32nd note pull-off at the start of every 5-note group, each group takes up 1 beat of a bar.

Note that I have also included the lead sheet, a fully notated version of the tune as well.

Do not fret if you see a lot of rests on the 2nd page of the TAB/leadsheet because it represents the "solo" and "drums and bass trade-off" sections and it's supposed to be a FUN freestyle time ! :D By all means play whatever you like and just have fun !

For those who would like a reference for the TAB and lead sheet, here is my performance of the song "Pick Up The Pieces". Everything notated and written is based on this performance of mine.

I hope this post would be useful to you.
Good luck learning and playing the song !

For those who don't solo to chord changes, here are the Scales/Arpeggio choices for soloing in this song: 
1. F Blues scale
2. F-9 arpeggio or F-7 arpeggio
3. F Dorian mode

You could use the scales & arpeggios in isolation or mix them during your solo. Ultimately, all depends on the sound and whether you like the sound.

And of course for the chord changes-geeks, the chord progression of the song during the solo section goes F-7 and Bb7 for 4 bars each, so your task would be to practice the arpeggios for these 2 chords and interchange your arpeggios according to the current chord that is playing.

Alright guys, see you guys again !
Take care and love ya,
Sapphire Ng <3 <3 <3

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