Sunday, April 17, 2005

"It Don't Mean a Thing if it Ain't Got that Swing" by Chapter 6

More fun with types of variation! Everyone knows this jazz/swing standard. Not only do we have the a capella twist, but we also have some fun with stylistic variation. We begin in the usual manner, a brisk swing tempo with a walking bassline and the off beats being accented by "bops" by baritone and tenor voices. The lead comes in, singing the melody line and scatting occassionally. We actually just repeat the verse and bridge over and over again, which would be the "section" of our sectional variation. The section is a rounded binary form, with an A section, a shorter B section ending on a half cadence, and a repeat of the A. A second voice comes in, with the same style, but varying the melody slightly, setting us up for the next variation. After a small cadential extension and ritard at the end of the verse, we move to our second variation. The chord stucture changes to strictly arpeggiations of the chord. Our tempo slows down and the mood is vastly changed, as our song turns into a pop ballad, with suspensions, cheesy harmonies (including a great homage to Fleetwood Mac over the repitition of the verse). As this fades away, we have a deceptive cadence and a key change, marking our change to the next variation. We include vocal percussion for the first time and give this variation a bossa nova feel. The latin rhythm, accenting one and three, feels rather awkward at first compared to swing's two and four accents. We end on another key change, returning to the original and really change things up. This variation turns it into a renaissance motet, with all 6 voices singing their own separate line. We start with one voice over a tenor line (the slower line, not the voice type), then slowly turning the melody into a canon as each voice passes it off to the next. We bring it all to a close with a plagal cadence and a picardy third. Which brings us to yest another far-reaching variation, the vocal percussion comes back and the bassline settles into a groove. That's right, we're now in R&B mode. The canned percussion sound and the simple background vocals take background to a soulful tenor solo for this variation. This seamlessly moves back into the original swing tempo easily, finishing exactly as we started, bringing this full circle. The variations in this piece ar far flung, but Chapter 6 pulls it off with incredible versatility and great character. I love this interesting twist on a standard.

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