On Johnny Alegre Eastern Skies part1

eastern skies

Listening to the album now makes me wish I had made some detailed documentation regarding the arrangements, what Johnny/I had intended to do, and if the actual results matched his/my intentions. I know that I was the arranger and not the composer, but I could say I was very compositionally involved in the songs, because Johnny was generous in that aspect. I could liken his pieces to jazz standards in a real book – there are already solid structures (maybe AABA or AABC, or what), the melody is already laid out, and most of the harmony. But the possibilities for interpretation are endless, and as with good pieces or great songs, one can come up with so many good things out of it, that the tricky part is trimming down the possibilities so that it will still sound cohesive.

Yes, I wish I had made more detailed documentation. As of now I’m also thinking to post some of the arrangement sketches (not the actual arrangements themselves, but their planning and doodling stages), if I can find them in my haystacks of sheets.

I did record in my journal how amazed I was with the orchestra (FILharmoniKa, back then known as Global Studio Orchestra) and Gerard Salonga's conducting.

Right now, though, I hope you can visit my Works page (Arrangements section), and give some of the Eastern Skies clips a listen. I don’t own the copyrights to the songs, so it’s not wise to post the full songs themselves. Even if I posted them in non-downloadable (streaming) format, lots of software are available nowadays which can capture those streaming media as mp3’s, so I thought it best to just post 1-minute sections of the songs.

I’ll be posting more on these in the weeks to come.

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Arranging Muscles

Whew! The past month was a total whirl. All in all these were stuff I did (from mid-April till May 21):

- an arrangement for the Philippine Youth Symphonic Band (will post it here soon as I get a copy of the performance)
- approximately 20 songs for Singing Bee each week
- 6 orchestra arrangements for Lea’s My Life On Stage concert, some of which were original compositions/themes
- 2 string quartet arrangements for Aiza Seguerra’s album (Singapore release), which were started on a few hours before the recording
- a theme song for the Breast Cancer foundation, fully orchestrated
- the foreword for a friend’s upcoming book
- a recording of my vocals for a friend
- a theme song for a popular milk brand (don’t know yet if it’ll get approved)
- running to and from various rehearsals and recordings for the projects above

As I look at the list, I am wondering how it all fit in that span of time. But I do did learn something here... When the task list, or the project, seemed impossible within the given time, that's because it probably was. I knew my own pacing and capabilities, and I knew I've never done this before. So it was to my benefit that at those moments, I forgot about timetables, time management, and such. At that particular point, making timetables would only make the impossible seem more impossible. So I went into it with a "just finish it" kind of mentality. What I got out from it was I was pushed to do things I could not do before.

Am certainly not complaining, but I could use a break. The past weeks felt like a total workout for my arranging and songwriting muscles. It gave me a good high, but as with seasons, there is a time to go all out, and there is a time to lie back and savor the sweet summer air. (What? Summer's over? Hmm. Must've passed by while my nose was buried in the computer)

- - - -

My Life On Stage, Lea Salonga’s 30th anniversary concert, will be running on its last night tonight. Last night was a success. I’ve been enjoying playing the synth part to double the orchestra strings (since we only have 3 first violins and 3 second violins). The tricky part is to blend in with the real strings, using the expression pedal at the right times and making sure the attacks are smooth, and swelling at the right moments. Of course I also had a wayward note here and there – when I wasn’t too careful about my attacks, a note would stick out. Oops!

Lea is one of the most talented people on earth. Of course, I needn't say that here, most Pinoy musicians already know that. It's such a joy to witness it firsthand.

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