Greetings once again from New York.
Rehearsals for the Importango album continue at full speed. We thought we'd give you a peek into what's going on.
Game Plan Update - Rehearsals (a continuing series)
Here is a recap of our latest rehearsal from December 2nd.
We decided to spend this rehearsal concentrating on two pieces, El Diecinueve and Vals Mío, both originals by Adam Tully. We are using a completely different arranging process for each piece, which you'll see as we take you through the summary of each:
1. El Diecinueve
This is the original that we've been playing the longest. It's never had a formal arrangement, but we've been playing it week after week for about two years in the style known as 'parrilla' in the tango tradition. This means that instead of having every note written out, we have only the most basic information - 32 measures of melody and harmony. To this information we add all of the stylistic elements of the language of tango: phrasing, rhythmic variation, dynamics, and feel, along with certain conventions (things you can just 'do' in tango) and we decide in the moment who is going to play what part (melody, accompaniment) during which section. Parrilla-style playing is not unlike what jazz musicians did when they first started playing instrumental versions of pieces from the American Songbook, many of which are also based on a 32-bar form.
Parrilla style is a lot of fun, and many of Importango's live arrangements live somewhere between this style, arrangements we've played, and well-known interpretations by the greats. With El Diecinueve we are slowly turning our parrilla version into an arrangement.
We started by distributing melodic duties to the three instruments. Then we began to play through the piece, and each time we played we would stop and try new ideas - an counter melody, a change in rhythmic accompaniment, tempo, dynamics, register, etc. Each of us worked from the same basic lead sheet containing the simple melody and chords, making notes of each idea we tried. We've been working this way on El Diecinueve for two rehearsals now. The arrangement thus develops organically. You could even call it that - the 'organic' approach to arranging. Stay tuned for more...
2. Vals Mío
The second and last piece of the rehearsal is also Adam's original, Vals Mío. The method of arrangement is the complete opposite of the above - Adam wrote the entire arrangement out, the way you would with 'classical' or 'composed' music. Even with this approach there is much work to be done in rehearsal: interpretative decisions, experiments with dynamics, tempo, feel, etc. Also, since the arrangement is so new (we played it live for the first time at our last show) there are a lot of elements that need to be changed, polished, or slightly modified to work better on each instrument.
Sometimes you need to simply play through a section several times as a group and try different approaches to phrasing, articulation, and tempo in order to understand what needs work. We did this with a number of sections including the 16th-note variation, which occurs at the end of the piece.
In the rehearsal video you'll see how worked on the variation in this way.
In the next few rehearsals we'll use the 'organic' and 'written' methods on the rest of the pieces and continue the process of selecting about 10 pieces out of the 20 we are considering.
We've got some holiday travel planned but we'll keep in touch with updates. Rehearsals will start again mid-January and as soon as possible after that we'll begin the tracking (recording) phase.
-Buttons are almost ready to go out!
-Video interviews! We've seen a preview of one, and we are told that the others are following shortly....fingers crossed!
Happy Holiday Season to all and we look forward to sharing our continued work with you.
-Machiko, Octavio, and Adam