10 December 2016

Post 454: 'TING-A-LING' - STARTING THE CONCERT

I was talking to one of England's best traditional jazz trombonists, a musician of great experience.

We got on to the subject of choosing tunes for a concert. He had a strong and persuasive opinion about how a concert should start. He said the first tune should be cheerful and up-tempo, but not too fast. It should be fairly simple. It should be in the key of Bb, as this was the most commonly used key and the one in which the melody instruments feel comfortable.

His reasons were these. At the start of a concert, the band needs to feel its way into the acoustics of the venue, so it is best to play something simple, giving all the musicians a chance to listen carefully to the sound and the balance. The audience also needs to adjust to the band - preferably while listening to something cheerful and unpretentious.

That all makes a lot of sense to me.

So would he please give me an example of a suitable first tune?

Ting-a-Ling, he said.

In case you don't know, this tune started life as a waltz - The Waltz of the BellsIt was composed in 1926 with words by Addy Britt (1891 - 1938) and music by Jack Little (1900 - 1956). If you would like to hear how it originally sounded when gently played as a waltz (on a Wurlitzer!), CLICK HERE.

Later, musicians found its chorus would work really well in 4/4 time as a traditional jazz number.

You will hear it pleasantly played by a small traditional jazz group that includes Cuff Billett on trumpet if you CLICK HERE. Or you may care to watch a six-piece band giving a lively performance BY CLICKING HERE.