Choiroke – lockdown choral arrangements

Jordan is a choral conductor and apparently also a Karaoke enthusiast.

During our extended stay inside, I’ve started a laughable choral project. I likes choral music, but my choir mostly likes drunken Karaoke in Soho. So: each week, I’m arranging a Karaoke Klassic ™ for them and any other singers who would like to join in, to record from the comfort and safety of your own home. Anyone can join. We rehearse the new songs every Wednesday at 6:30pm. Please get in touch using the button at the end of this page and I’ll send you my scores. (Also this is free, if that helps).

Week 1. Total Eclipse of the Heart (recorded by Bonnie Tyler).

This arrangement of Jim Steinman’s classic ballad features a prominent Alto line, reflecting the muscular vocal range of Ms Tyler. The choral/instrumental interlude is particularly cheerful. UPDATE: Video below.

Zoom meetings make brilliantly exciting music videos…

Week 2. S.O.S by ABBA

I spent most time in this arrangement transcribing the piano part from ABBA’s original recording. Was it worth it? Time will be the judge. Highlights of this arrangement include the Morse-Code setting of ‘S.O.S.’ in the chorus, and the Bass-line pedal A in the break. UPDATE: Video below.

Week 3. Tiny Dancer by Elton John and Bernie Taupin

This song. This. Song. Did you all realise that it was 6 minutes long when you voted for it? Elton constantly reworks his piano licks to drive the humble transcriber up the wall. This is the last time I let democracy get in the way of a good arrangement.

Did I consider using repeats to get through? Yes. Did I get lazy with the piano transcription? Absolutely. But it’s here, without a repeat in sight.

Fun Fact- it takes 2:30 to reach the chorus. You’re welcome.

Tiny Dancer – Week Three Mix – 9 voices, many are mine.

Week 4. Islands in the Stream, (performed by Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers), written by Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb.

Back on track here. An absolute classic, written by the Bee Gees and performed by country royalty. I’ve left the duet harmony intact, and added a few counter melodies to enhance the 4-part arrangement. FIRST MIX IS UP!

Islands in the Stream – Week One Mix

Week 5. V.E. Day 75 Medley

On a slightly different note, I’ve arranged three 1940s classics to help mark the 75th anniversary of V.E. Day. Many of the singers of The Museum Singers work or have worked at The Imperial War Museum, so this is our way to marking the occasion digitally. Please contact us for the score. I won’t be updating this until V.E. Day (8th May) – so check back then.

V.E. Day 75 Medley – Guide Vocals

Week 6. Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now) – Phil Collins

Oh Phil, phil, phil. Who hurt you this much? ‘TURN AROUND AND SEE ME CRY’. I was enjoying this one, until it transpired to be the same thing 3 times, without even the hint of a bridge. I do like that the electric piano sound is easily replicable in Logic. I’ll develop the drums for the final version, I promise. Did you know, Phil Collins has been married and divorced 3 times?

I was in a bit of a mood when I recorded this, but it’s here now and we all have to live with that.

Week 7. Man on the Moon – R.E.M.

So, this won the vote, but unlike that arrangement which must not be named (ahem Tiny Dancer) I liked it. Genuinely. It’s harmonically simple, and leaves room for a few choral quirks. Full disclosure, I removed one of the choruses at the end, as it repeats 3 times. Despite its overzealous use of repetition, I can’t even will myself to be sarcastic here. It’s a great song, I like R.E.M, I enjoyed arranging it. What have I become?

Man on the Moon – Guide Vocals

Week 8. Life on Mars – David Bowie

Here’s my first complete Logic X breakdown, where a crash deleted my vocals and piano playing. It was only a matter of time. Which breakdown was worse, you might ask: the computer’s or mine? Luckily – I preserved a solitary mp3 before this disaster. What follows is all that remains of 3 hours of loudly distressing my neighbours. Aside from a transcription of Rick Wakeman’s shameless baroquery, it’s all pretty textbook. Oh – I did put in some demi-semiquaver runs at the end, for a vocal flourish to rival the piano. There’s also the briefest quotation of Bowie’s ‘Fame’.

The remaining fragment of that cheerful Wednesday morning’s recording.
‘Remembrance of a particular form is but regret for a particular moment’.

Week 9. Always on My Mind – Elvis

Elvis is great. I could set any of these – particularly from the later Vegas period. No technical issues this time – and it’s short! AOMM, along with Suspicious Minds, utilises a songwriting technique that I’ve not known anyone else to employ: the False ending. It sounds like it’s going to stop, and even slightly fades out. Then he comes back for more! I’ve not tried to replicate this chorally. I think it would cause some concern about my mental state.

Second Week mix – the Bass and Tenor years.

Week 10. How Am I Supposed to Live Without You – Michael Bolton

So, this is technically Week 11, as I was sidetracked with a commission for the Camberwell Arts Festival (*brag*). It’s an Irving Berlin number, which is wonderful, but I’ll share more about that shortly.

I have always maintained that Micheal Bolton delivers one of the greatest vocal performances of the 20th Century. This, like the other arrangements, is set at original pitch. I need to deploy the sopranos for most of the melodic heavy-lifting, for goodness sake. Bolton can SING. He delivers 100%, 100% of the time.

We went from Howells Requiem to this?’

Jordan Theis

Contact me for the full recording kit,

and to submit your entry!

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