Now that Halloween is About Over…

Classic horror themes are ominous and generally dread-inspiring for a reason: They are written in minor keys. Find a nifty melody, go minor, and watch the goosebumps pile up. For composers, sometimes it’s almost too easy.

To prove that it’s the minor key and not the melody that is eerily accenting the work of cinema’s most murderous villains, musician/writer/filmmaker Ian Gordon re-recorded five iconic themes in major keys. What comes next will definitely not frighten you.

A quick rundown:

The X-Files theme sounds like the beginning of an inspirational journey across side-scrolling Nintendo worlds. (One where you’re searching for a magic flute.)

Halloween sounds like the side A, track one of an indie-pop outfit’s meadow-frolicking breakout record.

Saw recalls the music that scores when the football game is getting out of hand and only the underdog protagonist can bring you back.

The Exorcist sounds like a Styx breakdown.

Nightmare on Elm Street sounds like you’re at Sea World, and Shamu is doing a night show. (The ones with lasers.)

via Horror themes re-recorded in a major key will make you feel all warm and fuzzy.

October 31 ~ This Day in Music History

Happy Halloween

Halloween (All Hallow’s Eve) is an ancient celebration dating back to the sixth or seventh centuries. This holiday combines the Druid autumn festival and the Christian celebration of Hallowtide, long associated with witches, ghosts, devils, spirits, magic … and all scary things that go bump in the night.

• 1896 ~ Ethel Waters, American blues and jazz singer

• 1906 ~ Louise Talma, American composer

• 1912 ~ Dale Evans (Frances Butts), Singer, songwriter of Happy Trails to You, actress, wife of ‘King of the Cowboys’ Roy Rogers

• 1922 ~ Illinois (Battiste) Jacquet, Tenor saxophone, played with Lionel Hampton, Cab Calloway, Count Basie

• 1927 ~ Anita Kerr, Pianist, singer, record producer, The Anita Kerr Singers, composer

• 1930 ~ In a rare recording, William ‘Count’ Basie sang with Bennie Moten’s orchestra, Somebody Stole My Gal, on Victor.

• 1934 ~ Tom Paxton, American folk singer, guitarist and songwriter

• 1947 ~ Russ Ballard, Singer, songwriter, guitar with Argent

• 1952 ~ Bernard Edwards, Bass with Chic

• 1953 ~ NBC televised “Carmen” on Opera Theatre in living color. It was the first major opera televised in anything other than black and white.

• 1956 ~ Tony Bowers, Bass with Simply Red

• 1961 ~ Larry Mullen, Grammy Award-winning drummer, with U2

• 1963 ~ Johnny Marr, Guitarist with The Smiths

• 1972 ~ Curtis Mayfield received a gold record for Freddie’s Dead from the movie, Superfly.

• 1984 ~ Caribbean Queen became a gold record for Billy Ocean. It was Ocean’s second hit song and the only one of his 11 hits to become a million-seller. He would have two other #1 songs and a pair of #2 hits, but none as big as Caribbean Queen (No More Love on the Run). Billy’s from Trinidad, and his real name is Leslie Sebastian Charles.

maryorednpurplewitch

Happy Halloween: Toccata and Fugue in d minor by J.S Bach

toccata-d-minor

 

Johann Sebastian Bach’s towering monument of organ music, with its deep sense of foreboding, will forever be associated with Halloween.

Get a free copy of the sheet music at IMSLP or borrow a copy from the O’Connor Music Studio.  I have this arranged for organ, piano, duet, 2-piano, simplified…

If you want this in a book with other Bach transcriptions, amazon has this: Toccata and Fugue in D Minor and the Other Bach Transcriptions for Solo Piano, arranged by Ferruccio Busoni.

Here, Virgil Fox performs it on his Allen Digital Touring Organ.

 

Diane Bish plays the Massey Memorial Organ at the Chautauqua Institution and talks about this instrument.

 

And, the most fun…

October 30 ~ This Day in Music History

today

• 1894 ~ Peter Warlock, British composer and writer

• 1939 ~ Grace Slick (Wing), American rock singer and songwriter with Jefferson Airplane

• 1939 ~ Eddie Holland, Songwriter in the writing team of Holland-Dozier-Holland. They were inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990, singer

• 1941 ~ Otis Williams, Singer with The Temptations

• 1941 ~ The song that would become the theme of bandleader Tony Pastor was recorded. It was Blossoms on the Bluebird label. If you don’t remember Blossoms, maybe you remember this one by Pastor: Dance with a Dolly (With a Hole in Her Stocking).

• 1947 ~ Timothy B. Schmit, Bass guitarist, singer with Poco, who joined The Eagles, in 1977, (1977 US No.1 & UK No.8 single ‘Hotel California’, plus 5 US No.1 albums. ‘Greatest Hits 1971-1975’ is the second biggest selling album in the world with sales over 30m).

• 1957 ~ Shlomo Mintz, Russian-born Israeli violinist

• 1964 ~ Roy Orbison went gold with his hit single, Oh, Pretty Woman.

• 1971 ~ Pink Floyd released their sixth studio album Meddle in the US. The album features ‘One Of These Days’ and the 23-minute track ‘Echoes’ which took up all of side 2 on the vinyl record. The cover image was photographed by Bob Dowling. The image represents an ear, underwater, collecting waves of sound, represented by ripples in the water.

• 1972 ~ A command performance was given for the Queen of England by Elton John.

• 1976 ~ The group, Chicago, started its second (and final) week at number one on the pop singles charts with If You Leave Me Now. The hottest LP was Stevie Wonder’s “Songs in the Key of Life”. The album was number one for a total of 14 weeks.

• 1984 ~ Barry Manilow opened at Radio City Music Hall, New York. His concerts sold out to the tune of $1.9 million, besting (by $100,000) the record set by Diana Ross.

• 1984 ~ Dan Ackroyd and John Belushi, aka The Blues Brothers (Jake and Elwood), hit the two-million-dollar sales mark with their LP, Briefcase Full of Blues.

• 2000 ~ Steve Allen, the bespectacled, droll comedian who pioneered late-night television with the original “Tonight Show” and wrote more than 4,000 songs and 40 books, passed away. He died at the age of 78 of an apparent heart attack. In addition to starting the “Tonight Show,” Allen starred as the King of Swing in the 1956 movie “The Benny Goodman Story.” He appeared in Broadway shows, on soap operas, wrote newspaper columns, commented on wrestling broadcasts, made 40 record albums, and wrote plays and a television series that featured “guest appearances” by Sigmund Freud, Clarence Darrow and Aristotle. “I’ve known him for almost 60 years. … He is one of the great renaissance figures of today,” comic Art Linkletter said. Said entertainer Dick Clark: “He had a magnificent mind. He was a kind, gentle, warm man. He would be embarrassed for me now, because I can’t put into words the way I felt about this man. I loved him.” His ad-libbing skills became apparent in his early career as a disc jockey. He once interrupted the music to announce: “Sports fans, I have the final score for you on the big game between Harvard and William & Mary. It is: Harvard 14, William 12, Mary 6.” Allen’s most enduring achievement came with the introduction of “The Tonight Show” in 1953. The show began as “Tonight” on the New York NBC station WNBT, then moved to the network on Sept. 27, 1954. Amid the formality of early TV, “Tonight” was a breath of fresh air. The show began with Allen noodling at the piano, playing some of his compositions and commenting wittily on events of the day. “It was tremendous fun to sit there night after night reading questions from the audience and trying to think up funny answers to them; reading angry letters to the editor; introducing the greats of comedy, jazz, Broadway and Hollywood; welcoming new comedians like Shelley Berman, Jonathan Winters, Mort Sahl and Don Adams,” he once said. Allen’s popularity led NBC in 1956 to schedule “The Steve Allen Show” on Sunday evenings opposite “The Ed Sullivan Show” on CBS. A variation of “Tonight,” the prime-time show was notable for its “Man in the Street Interview” featuring new comics Louis Nye (“Hi-ho, Steverino”), Don Knotts, Tom Poston, Pat Harrington and Bill Dana. The show lasted through 1961, the last year was on ABC. Among his TV routines: parodying juvenile rock ‘n’ roll lyrics by reading them as if they were sublime poetry, and “The Question Man,” in which someone would give him an answer and he would guess the question – forerunner to Johnny Carson’s “Karnac.” He wrote great quantities of songs, and several were recorded by pop vocalists. His most popular song was This May Be the Start of Something Big. His books ranged from autobiography (“Hi-Ho, Steverino: My Adventures in the Wonderful Wacky World of TV”), to philosophy (“Steve Allen on the Bible, Religion and Morality,” to murder mystery (“Die Laughing.”) Steve Allen came by his humor naturally; both his parents, Billy Allen and Belle Montrose, were vaudeville comedians. Steve was 18 months old when his father died, and his mother continued touring the circuits as a single.

• 2003 ~ Franco Corelli, a dashing Italian tenor who once starred alongside Maria Callas, died at the age of 82. Corelli rose to operatic stardom in the 1950s and remained there well into the 1970s. “He was the most viscerally thrilling and handsome tenor of the post Second World War generation,” the late Austrian conductor Herbert von Karajan once said of Corelli. Born in 1921, Corelli grew up a keen singer but his opera career did not really take off until 1951. He made his debut that year singing Don Jose in Bizet’s “Carmen.” Three years later he appeared alongside Maria Callas in Gaspare Spontini’s “La Vestale” in Milan. The Italian’s fame spread and before long his career took him to Paris, Vienna, London and New York. His versatile voice and good looks made him a popular choice for romantic lead roles.

Halloween Music: In the Hall of the Mountain King by Edvard Grieg

hall-mountain

 

“In the Hall of the Mountain King” is a piece of orchestral music composed for the sixth scene of act 2 in Henrik Ibsen’s 1867 play Peer Gynt. It was originally part of Opus 23 but was later extracted as the final piece of Peer Gynt, Suite No. 1, Op. 46. Its easily recognizable theme has helped it attain iconic status in popular culture, where it has been arranged by many artists, including for the piano.

Borrow a copy of the sheet music from the O’Connor Music Studio.  I have this arranged for piano, duet, 2-piano, simplified…

 

8 part vocal orchestra (plus a tiny pair of cymbals)

 

Pianist Paul Barton

 

Solo piano sheet music – Video Score

 

Orchestral version

October 29 ~ This Day in Music History

today

 

• 1815 ~ Daniel Decatur Emmett, Composer of Dixie, originally titled Dixie’s Land

• 1891 ~ Fanny Brice (Borach), American singer and comedienne

• 1922 ~ Neal Hefti, Composer of TV’s Batman theme, The Odd Couple theme; Neal Hefti and His Orchestra performed on The Kate Smith Show

• 1925 ~ “Zoot” (John Haley) Sims, American jazz tenor and alto saxophonist and clarinetist.  He played with the Benny Goodman Band, Woody Herman Orchestra, Stan Kenton, Gerry Mulligan, Birdland All-Stars, Jazz at Carnegie Hall

• 1926 ~ Jon Vickers, Canadian tenor

• 1930 ~ The tune, It Must Be True, was recorded on Victor by Bing Crosby, who sang with Gus Arnheim and his orchestra.

• 1937 ~ Sonny Osborne, 5-string banjo, singer, baritone with Osborne Brothers

• 1941 ~ Jody Miller, Grammy Award-winning singer

• 1944 ~ Denny Laine (Brian Hines), Guitarist, singer with The Moody Blues

• 1944 ~ The Martha Graham dance company performed a famous contemporary composition called “Appalachian Spring” by Aaron Copland. This debut performance was staged at the Library of Congress.

• 1945 ~ Melba Moore, Singer and actress

• 1946 ~ Peter Green, Guitarist with Fleetwood Mac

• 1947 ~ Richard Dreyfuss, Academy Award-winning actor in The Goodbye Girl (1977) and Mr. Holland’s Opus

• 1961 ~ Randy (Steven Randall) Jackson, Singer with The Jackson Five, brother of Michael, Jermaine, Janet, LaToya, Tito, etc.

• 1961 ~ The top, pop song on the charts belonged to Dion (DiMucci). Runaround Sue was in its second week at the tiptop of the top~tune tabulation (it was in the top 40 for three months).

• 1970 ~ Neil Diamond received a gold record for the hit, Cracklin’ Rosie.

• 1981 ~ Loretta Lynn received a gold record for her album, “Greatest Hits, Vol. 2”.

• 1983 ~ After four weeks at #1 on the pop music charts, Bonnie Tyler’s Total Eclipse of the Heart slipped to #2. It was replaced by Islands in the Stream by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton.

• 1987 ~ Woody Herman, American jazz clarinetist, alto and soprano saxophonist, singer, and big band leader passed away

• 2001 ~ Henry Berthold “Spike” Robinson, a Britain-based American saxophonist admired for his liquid tone and lyrical verve, died at the age of 71. Robinson was born in Wisconsin and came to Britain as a U.S. Navy bandsman after World War II. In his spare, he time played with British bebop pioneers such as Ronnie Scott, John Dankworth and Victor Feldman, making a series of recordings for the Esquire label. He returned to the United States and completed an engineering degree, continuing to play in jazz clubs while working for Honeywell Corp. He returned to music full-time in 1981 after recording an album of Harry Warren compositions featuring Feldman and bassist Ray Brown. In 1989 Robinson moved to England. Despite poor health, he played steadily throughout Europe and the United States. He also recorded for the Edinburgh- based Hep label.

Halloween Music: Night on Bald Mountain by Modest Mussorgsky

bald-mountain

Night on Bald Mountain refers to a series of compositions by Modest Mussorgsky (1839–1881). Inspired by Russian literary works and legend, Mussorgsky composed a “musical picture”, St. John’s Eve on Bald Mountain on the theme of a witches’ sabbath occurring on St. John’s Eve, which he completed on that very night, June 23, in 1867.

Get a free copy of the sheet music at IMSLP or buy it on amazon.com.

From Disney’s Fantasia

 

Piano version transcribed for solo piano by Konstantin Chernov (1865-1937).

 

The Ludwig Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Maestro Thomas Ludwig