So before we begin this musical adventure -Â this virtual attempt at creating an interesting competitive selection of musicÂ -Â it might be a good idea to establish a few principles to help move us along.
Consultants and David Letterman love lists: “3 reasons for this” and “top ten” for that; so let’sÂ keep it simple and tryÂ a list.
7. Â Play by the rules but don’t be afraid to stretchÂ to theÂ last hole on the belt.Â There are a lot of rules, particularly in associations outside of North America, but not as many asÂ you might think.Â Consider rules talent-testing challenges.Â For the purposes of this online effort I’m using PPBSO rules for a grade one bandÂ Â (of special note:Â a bandÂ can start anyÂ way they like).
6.Â Begin withÂ an idea or musical intention in mind.Â Rather than a piecemealÂ approach -Â grab-a-tune here,Â pick-a-tuneÂ there – Â or bits and bobs fromÂ the book of old medleys – have an idea from the start what kind of selection you are aiming to create: a bold statement of theÂ avant garde? A tip of the hat to the classic tunes?Â An exploration of minor key misery?
5.Â ConsiderÂ listeners.Â It’s your call how much youÂ take into accountÂ the adjudicator’s lugs but I suggest if you stand by what you know is well-considered and musical then the chips will (eventually) fall your way. This tip is in place really as a check to helpÂ balanceÂ the natural tendancy to indulge yourself.Â Â Balancing theÂ desire to create art and need to impress and entertain is difficult.Â I thinkÂ the outcome of this balancing act is what people generally call “taste” – and sometimes it’s good, and sometimes it’s a stink bomb.Â Â You’ll know the question of “taste” is a controversial concept when applied to art.Â I defend including “listener consideration” and tastefulness only as theyÂ apply to a listÂ ofÂ principles – brief points of guidance that can easily be dismissed – as you may.Â Â I do like thatÂ Picasso quote though, “Good taste, what a dreadful thing”.
4.Â BalanceÂ simple with complex.Â We need hooks: simple phrases,Â melodies that engage the listener as much as clever riffs on complex polyrythmicÂ Icelandic gnome dances.Â So often it is the simple that is the biggest challenge.Â Â
3. Â Consider percussion when developing your selection. Consulting your percussion maestros is good, too.Â You may find an excellentÂ melodyÂ offers little to a non-piper’s imagination.Â Yes, it might be a good challenge to overcome, but why unnecessarily tax, or worse, frustrateÂ the team?Â It is a pipe band, after all.Â We’re looking to create a masterful explosion of ensemble – and interest.Â Collaborate.Â I acknowledge this is one of the biggest challenges in theÂ creative process.Â
2.Â Plan for a surprise, a positive ear-tingling surprise.Â An unexpected something that will get the wags talking and, more importantly, be fun to play over and over again.Â Now, this is the biggest challenge.Â
1.Â Leave them wanting more.Â It’s the oldest rule in showbiz, I’m told.Â This means not milking the tricks, the harmonies, the bippidy-boops, the rests, the rolls, the reels.Â You knowÂ what I mean.Â Â Unless he’s the timekeeper, no one at a medley competition should be looking at their watch forÂ sonic relief.
So, a few principles.Â Not a complete list,Â But, I say,Â a good start to get building medleys.Â Â Â Â
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