This dark tale of Jingle Bells for brass band by James McFadyen is sure to give your seasonal concerts a touch of modernism, and will certainly create a bit of a talking point at your Christmas concerts. Although not immediately obvious as one to put on your public programmes, progressive bands will enjoy putting together a varied programme and including arrangements that shine a new light on old classics.
Originally entitled One Horse Open Sleigh when composed in 1857 by American composer and songwriter James L. Pierpont (1822-1893), Jingle Bells has gone on to become one of the most recognisable Christmas songs of all time.
Pierpont's lyrics remain largely untouched, but as you will notice from the following original text, there are a few differences:Dashing tho' the snow,
In typical McFadyen style, the original of Jingle Bells as-we-know-it is flipped on its head. The most arresting difference is the speed. The piece is a lot slower than the original, but there are numerous musical devices which keep the music pacing along, including short arpeggiated motifs on baritones and euphoniums.
The overall sound of this arrangement of Jingle Bells is dark although, the most skillful of conductors will see the poetry in the music. There is much storytelling to tell here, which builds to a rather serious finale and then closes down with a series of effervescent chords in the lower band.
For those looking for a more traditional arrangement of Jingle Bells, one can be found in James McFadyen's lovely medley of Christmas tunes, Christmas Sweets.
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