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Coda Connections
Columbia Band Fans' Quarterly Newsletter
Spring 2010

CONTENTS
News & Calendar - Spring 2010
Feature - Timeless Movie Themes: James Bond
Behind the Baton - Director's Thoughts
Fun Stuff - A few words about...
Official CCB/CJB Positions - People in Charge
Contact Information

Greetings!

We are excited to officially announce the name of our new non-profit parent organization: Columbia Bands. For those who have followed our performing ensembles over the years, please rest assured that they will continue to be known as the Columbia Concert Band and the Columbia Jazz Band. The new parent name indicates that we are more than one group, while also allowing for the possibility of future ensembles.

REMINDER: The next concert features the Columbia Jazz Band this Sunday at 3:00. We'd love to see you there! Please check the calendar below for details.

This edition of Coda Connections features an article about a famous movie theme's unusual beginnings, some tips on learning jazz, and a slight realignment of Board members.

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I encourage all CCB/CJB fans and members to speak up if there's a particular music-related subject that you would like to see featured in Coda Connections; please remember that your feedback is important to the growth and success of this publication.

Please send me a message if:
- Your email changes and you'd like to keep getting this newsletter, OR
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- You wish to submit your own writing/comments.

Thanks!

- Len Morse, Editor

News & Calendar
 

Spring News

The concert band is rehearsing some challenging and fun Spring music, and the jazz band has re-scheduled their snowed-out concert for this coming Sunday. The calendar shows each group's public performances.

Spring Calendar

March:
  Sun, 3/14, 3:00-4:00PM, Jazz Band at River Hill High School, Clarksville, MD

April:
  Mon, 4/12, 9:30PM, Jazz Band at Blues Alley, Washington, D.C.
  Sat, 4/24, 6:00-7:00PM, Jazz Band at Wilde Lake High School, Columbia, MD
    Howard County Arts Gala

May:
  Sun, 5/2, 3:00-4:00PM, Concert Band at River Hill High School, Clarksville, MD
  Sun, 5/16, 1:00PM, Jazz Band at St. Paul's Lutheran Church, Fulton, MD

June:
  Sun, 6/13, Concert Band at William A. Humbert Amphitheater, Bel Air, MD
    Maryland Community Band Day
  Sun, 6/20, 6:30PM, Jazz Band at Lake Kittamaqundi, Columbia, MD

Feature
by Len Morse (Percussion)     Musical notes on staff
Timeless Movie Themes: James Bond

Before Sean Connery strapped on Bond's first Walther PPK, before John Barry composed music for Dr. No, and even before Cubby Broccoli even had an inkling of making a movie about a suave super-spy, British singer Monty Norman wrote a tune called Bad Sign, Good Sign for his musical, A House for Mr. Biswas. It was this tune that would eventually become the internationally known James Bond theme.

Norman abandoned a successful singing career to pursue the life of a composer/lyricist, and from 1958 to 1960, the multi-talented Londoner enjoyed five well-received musicals, including the popular Irma La Douce. In 1961, producer Cubby Broccoli saw Norman's show Belle or The Ballad of Doctor Crippen and loved it.

Having recently secured the rights to Ian Fleming's James Bond novels, Broccoli and partner Harry Saltzman asked Norman to write the theme music to the first Bond movie, Dr. No. After a free trip to Jamaica became part of the deal, Norman agreed, and it was during this working trip that he met and got to know the entire cast and crew, including young actors Sean Connery and Ursula Andress. Norman was now on the project.

Norman was also tasked with writing a memorable theme for the film's promotion, so he retrieved Bad Sign, Good Sign and tweaked a few details. He brought experienced composer John Barry on board to orchestrate the theme, and together they created a tune that they felt captured the essence of inimitable, in the current big band style.

From its minimal beginnings as a tune for an East Indian character in a musical, this song became the theme for a sophisticated secret agent, played by a dashing Scotsman. Composer Monty Norman is the one to thank for the James Bond theme.

Behind the Baton
by Pete Barenbregge (Jazz Band Director)     Saxophonist
The concept of swing is elusive. An explanation or description of the swing feel has been explored countless times in various jazz education books, swing clinics, jazz ensemble charts, college and high school classes and so on. Typically, I hear inexperienced musicians play eighth notes either with no swing feel at all-just straight eighths, or too much "swing," so it sounds like exaggerated dotted-eighth/sixteenth notes.

Tempo does matter because the degree of swing is often dictated by the tempo-the faster the tempo, the less swing feel. Conversely, the slower the tempo, the more exposed the swing feel is and therefore, more prominent. For example, focusing on a swing eighth-note line played up and down a major scale at mm=180, the eighths are played even. At mm=140, there is usually a hint of swing feel. At mm=110 the swing feel is obvious, and at mm=80 even more so.

It is essential to have a grasp on the jazz swing feel at all reasonable tempos, because no matter how hip or cool the notes you are playing, if it doesn't swing or feel right, you will lose the listener. Reality: Most musicians who can swing, beginner or professional, learned how to swing by playing with and/or listening to musicians who can swing. They learned by listening and imitating. At the same time, one should become aware and learn to recognize what is not a good swing feel.

What is swing and how do I teach it or do it? The swing feel "textbook" explanation of swing eighth notes can be simplified to read: The first eighth note of the beat is longer than the second eighth note.

Here are a few tips to consider while focusing on eighth notes in a line or scale played around mm=100. For wind and piano/guitar players:

   1) Use your ears! Listen to jazz masters you admire and copy their swing feel. Imitate it instrumentally and vocally. Listen and practice this daily, it is essential!

   2) Avoid this:
      a. Do not shorten every other note-for example "short-long," "short-long," and so on. This phrasing will not swing.
      b. Do not add a heavy emphasis on the downbeats.
      c. Do not play with an exaggerated 12/8 (extreme triplet) feel of quarter, eighth, quarter, etc.

   3) Instead, try this:
      a. Play all eighth notes in a jazz line long unless marked otherwise-connect them all, and then play the last note short.
      b. Lightly accent the upbeats with breath or slight emphasis.
      c. Add a swing feel somewhere between 12/8 and a 4/4.

   4) Use your metronome to practice - set it to click on beats 2 and 4.

   5) Seek out a jazz group (community jazz group or semi pro) that has a good reputation; either join the band or attend rehearsals to listen and absorb.

For bass and drumset players, the tips mentioned above will help, but I think the best way to learn to swing is to listen and/or play with other rhythms players who can swing. Play-along books are also very good because you usually have the opportunity to hear the music played correctly with a demo track.

Visit the Columbia Jazz Band online

Fun Stuff
   
Quarterly Word: "The Telephone" - One-act comic opera by Gian Carlo Menotti. The libretto tells of Lucy, who is so addicted to the telephone that Ben's only chance of proposing to her is to call her.

Quarterly Quote: "For me...music exists to elevate us as far as possible above everyday existence." ~ Gabriel Fauré, composer

Official CCB/CJB Positions
   

Columbia Bands Executive Board

President - Bob Frantz
Vice President - Len Morse
Secretary - Carolyn Hipkins
Treasurer - Aileen Borders

Music Directors

CCB Director - Mike Blackman
CJB Director - Pete Barenbregge

Appointees and Volunteers

Historian - Melinda Frisch
Publicity Chair - Jim Kaiser
Fundraising Chair - Woody Wingfield
Equipment Manager - Len Morse
Grants, Programs - Jeanette Donald
Facebook Fan Page Moderator - Carolyn Hipkins
Accountant - David Weisenfreund, CPA
Librarian - Marilyn Kelsey
Curator - Jeanette Donald (Acting)
Uniforms - Bill DeVuono
HCAC Liason - Tanya Hoegh-Allan
Insurance Liason - Jenn Ambrosiano-Reedholm
CCB-CJB Liason - Russell Perkins
CCB Webmaster - Suzanne Hassell
CJB Webmaster - Matt Williams
Members-at- Large - Jenn Ambrosiano-Reedholm, Russell Perkins, Sam Stern, Kathleen Shoemaker

 

Contact Information

phone: 301-598-4587
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Columbia Concert Band | PO Box 2713 | Columbia | MD | 21045-1713