Arranging for Small Groups 3: Handling Harmonies

What a strange place to sing an American song about.

What a strange place to sing an American song about.

A great many songs you’ll run into have prominent harmony parts in them, and larger groups have the luxury of being able to spin off a single singer from any given part who will step up to the front with a microphone and harmonize away.  Sadly, our example group has only 7 members: 2 basses, 2 baritones, 2 tenor IIs, and a lone tenor I.  And on top of that, one of the tenor IIs has the solo!

In these situations, your arrangements are going to generally be strictly four-part, and any harmony lines that are important will have to be written into the block itself.  This isn’t that big a problem, however — you’ll just have to be a bit creative in assembling the arrangement.  Our example of the moment is Why Georgia, by John Mayer.

Why Georgia by John Mayer (Free Arrangement Available)

First, listen to the original track:

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The harmony is important, and we only have one tenor I to sing it!  So, that’s probably the first thing in the arrangement that we’d write.  What Jeff ended up doing is this:

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Why Georgia Chorus

The top line is sung by the lone tenor one, and covers many chord tones — but the lower three voices can also be used for these triadic harmonies!  The D, A, and G chords can all be spelled out in complete.  In measures 17-18, the tenor IIs add a bit of interest with a made-up line.  By measure 21, the top voice is adding a 9 to our E minor chord below.  In this case, we had two very powerful low basses who could lay down an E2 like it was a lazy cat, so the part was written very low.  Most of the time, bassitones in college a cappella groups start to struggle at around a G2, so please be extra-careful.

Measure 22 has a voicing of E minor that completely lacks the 5th degree: this is just fine, and the audience will still hear the doubled E loud and clear.

There are other examples of this coming soon — just waiting on getting the arrangements sent to me.

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This course begins to be relly interesting, when you show both, original trackc and vocal versions, to co compare.
Thanks

#1 
Written By joseoscar on March 8th, 2013 @ 11:47 am

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