Thomas Stevens

Arrangements and Transcriptions 2006

  • General Quotes

There are those who believe the usual questions and concerns regarding musical arrangements/transcriptions are démodé-very last century......

There are those who believe the usual questions and concerns regarding musical arrangements/transcriptions are démodé-very last century, and that current and evolving practices could produce far more significant challenges to classical music performance traditions than anything that has taken place during the past 100 years. Consequently, in today's world we must consider the relevancy of discussions regarding isolated single issues (i.e. whether it is acceptable to play the Beethoven Violin Concerto on the harmonica) that may not be as important in the overall scheme of things as they may have been in the past.

“We hope to do recording productions of excerpts from great instrumental, choral, or operatic works that consist of only the high points of the pieces”-record producer in the U.K. (whose name will be included once permission is received). Other producers have proposed extending the concept to “producing pastiche works featuring two or more such musical excerpts, positioned either serially or simultaneously.”

Wouldn’t this be like creating new theatrical motion pictures consisting of only the exciting parts of existing movies? How truly wonderful! What about a new movie called Fast Driving in the Wrong Lane, featuring Steve McQueen’s famous car chase scene in Bullit juxtaposed in some manner of form(s) with the equally famous NYC chase scene in The French Connection, with some recent TV news footage of police car chases edited in and around for good measure? (One producer has cited an award-winning photograph of a group of photographs by Henri Cartier-Bresson as the inspiration for this concept. Just think about it, folks: A photographer receiving an award in photography for a photograph of a group of photographs taken by another photographer!)

A stated primary purpose [read: codeword] for such works is “accessibility" (making music available to a wider audience). This point of argument has always existed in the lexicon of the pro-arrangement and transcription lobby; however, in postmodern times there are occasional injections of currently popular and clichéd societal concepts like “anti-elitism" and “music belongs to everyone” added to the rhetorical mix. Another implied and curiously understated point of argument is that in today's fast paced environment it is unreasonable to expect members of society to sit quietly long enough to listen to complete musical works. (Don't "shrinks" have technical/medical terminology for such phenomena?)

So, ready or not out there: How about a Tchaikovsky/Ravel/Rachmaninoff high point composite providing us with a few minutes of perpetual musical ecstasy rendered in the original (maybe) orchestrations?

And we haven't mentioned the myriad possibilities posed by electronic instruments................(later)