January 25, 2016

Yesterday was a fun day: Football and music. In the morning I did the arrangements for three new tunes and, in the afternoon and evening, watch NFL football. The wife slept – she says it isn’t really football.

On the music thing, it was an interesting process. One tune is an old Eagles number from Urban Cowboy. Ironically enough, I started the arrangement the day before Glen Frey’s passing and finished the day after. He will be missed.

One of the primary rules that I have tried to follow for 40 plus years is to try to never slow down an original tune in order to produce it for square dancing. I am finding, however, that it is becoming more and more difficult to do that. Our modern square dance tempo has slowed significantly over the past 30 years from a standard of 130 – 132 bpm to where it is currently 120 – 126 bpm. I, personally, do not attribute all of that to the rising age of our dance, although it is a major contributor. But, also, the style and type of popular music today lends itself to a more frenetic but slower tempo. I think the disco era began that change.

I know that the Eagles tune that we are doing was originally cut on two different labels but was arranged quite differently from what I have decided to do. The earlier cuts were a decided 2/4 rhythm and, while the tempo of the dance steps were slower, the music was actually faster. I have decided to actually slow the original piece from 134 bpm to 126 bpm and keep the song as original as possible. The problem I face is that, at that tempo and original style rhythm, it is as boring as watching grass grow. What I have decided to do is change the bass and kick drum to an every step lick and keep the rest of the song original. I have no idea if it will work but the piece in my head sounds great. I guess we’ll find out when we ship it in April.

The other two tunes required speeding up which is normally a good thing if the lyric doesn’t move to quickly. One is a love song by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton and, at all costs, I must avoid making it too busy or it loses the intimate feel. The other is an old R&B tune by Stevie Wonder that we must be careful not to lose the “funk” or it will lose its appeal.

I am excited about these three and, hopefully, our subscribers will as well. Speaking of subscribers, in my next post I hope to talk about the pros and cons of subscription services and single song sales. That should get some interest comments.