When I started this assignment, I thought of cool songs to arrange for a mixed bag ensemble. After some consideration, I decided to do Livin’ La Vida Loca by Ricky Martin because it is groovy and full of repetition. I later decided to arrange an Orff version as well so that its use in the classroom is improved, as teachers can start with the Orff arrangement before moving to the mixed bag arrangement. All my files can be found here (scores and resources) and here (Audio/video), and will be posted throughout this reflection post.

Why I made the arrangement the way I did

Mixed Bag

I arranged the song to have a melody part, 2 harmonic melody lines, a bassline, chords, and percussion. I did this because the original had a similar arrangement and I thought it would translate well for a mixed bag ensemble. I tried to make the parts compatible with every instrument, and there were some instances where I wrote an octave lower in smaller noteheads to cater for players who cannot play that high.

In terms of the structure, I chose to only do an introduction which took material from the original verse, and then a chorus. I added an improvisation section which was over the chords from the verse, and because it was all C minor, it makes it a lot easier to improvise over. Players can just use the C natural minor scale if they are confident or they could use a more limited pitch set such as the notes of the chord. I arranged parts for 5 percussion lines, as there is a great latin music element to the original. I combined the 3:2 clave with other rhythms, as well as rhythms extracted from the drum kit, to allow students of many levels to participate in the arrangement. I also had parts for notated in Guitar tablature, to cater for the guitarists who cannot read traditional notation.

I added some of my own material to the arrangement to fill out more parts so that more players can play different parts. Some of the melodic harmony lines cater to sustaining instruments, however, there were parts that adhered to the original with the short staccato notes.

There are aural learning resources provided with this arrangement, linking it with aural learning practices, allowing students to learn this arrangement informally (Green, 2008). It has all of the ideas addressed by Green (2008) in that there is an element of listening, playing, and especially improvisation. It also links with Orff approach because it can be used to “begin with the ear rather than the eye” (Goodkin, 2001, p. 19). It also links well because there is a very big improvisation element, which is at the heart of the Orff approach (Goodkin, 2001).

All my files for the mixed bag arrangement can be found here and additional instructions can be found in the full score.

Orff Arrangement

I did this arrangement to work with the Orff pedagogy, which is clear through the text under melodic lines in the score, as well as the inclusion of a bordun. It is to be taught through several phases, such as exploration, imitation, and improvisation (Frazee & Kreuter, 1987; Shamrock, 1997). In the exploration phase, the teacher can work on movement and body percussion activities with the class. The teacher can then teach through imitation, and use the text beneath the words in the score before transferring to the instruments. The arrangement also incorporates improvisation which would suit the different levels of the students, as some parts allow more bars to be taken off the bar instruments than others.

To suit the bar instruments, I transposed the arrangement into the key of A minor instead of C minor. To make the arrangement more interesting, I added some of my self-composed countermelodies to add parts that did not exist in the original. I also changed the bordun line so it wasn’t as dissonant. To cater for students with low ability, I made the different note up an octave, so that all the bars between could be easily removed, making the changing notes more simple for the students to hit. I also took the tempo down from prestissimo to allegro so it is a lot more manageable to play at an early level.

All the files for my Orff arrangement can be found here.

How I made the arrangement

I started with the mixed bag arrangement and I combined my own transcriptions with chord charts I found online. It was quite simple due to the ostinati, which also means it would be effective in the classroom. I added my own melodic harmony lines to harmonise with the main melody and I made sure to include all transpositions, Tablature, and even the Alto clef for Viola (I also included some bow directions and slurring). For the drum kit, I included a part with the basic outline of the beat and another part with a fully notated rhythm to advise a more adept drummer. I included a drum key on the full score, as well as the drum score parts to make sure the symbols I used are easily understood.

After completing the mixed bag arrangement, I decided to make an Orff arrangement which took some of the ostinati across. I then simply transposed it down into A minor and added some of my own material to fill out the arrangement.

Technology and Innovation

Ableton Live Project

This is innovative as the teacher can use it as an aural learning resource with the class. Single loops can be selected for students to learn aurally, or whole sections can be looped to allow students to refine their playing. The improvisation section can be looped endlessly as well, which can be great for drilling improvisation with the class. This is superior to the GarageBand project files as there is an element of control to the structure of the arrangement. A launchpad or Push is not required to use the project file, and teachers can easily swap out sound samples to higher quality ones such as Kontakt Instruments if they are available.

I did this by exporting the MIDI from Sibelius and by cutting the parts into the sections to add to the session view. I had a play through with it myself to see how practical its use is so I know how useful it can actually be.

GarageBand Projects

This is innovative because it can be provided to students to allow them to practice in their own time. They can solo and mute tracks, practice improvising, and even learn their parts with the score function instead of the piano roll. I have a project file for both the Orff and mixed bag arrangements so it can be used to extend the aural learning methods for the two of them.

iBook for Aural Learning

This is innovative because it is an interactive resource that students can use for aural learning. It combines aural and score reading realms to allow the greatest success for students. There is also a drum visualiser which drummers can use to see what drum is actually being hit in the audio. The audio files were exported from Logic, and the video scores were from Sibelius’ export as video function. I used Screenflow to do a screen recording of Toontrack’s EzDrummer for the drum visualiser and cut it to have a separate clip for each section.

Alternatively, all the audio and video files can be found here.

Reference List

Frazee, J., & Kreuter, K. (1987). Discovering Orff: A curriculum for music teachers. Mainz: London.

Goodkin, D. (2001). Orff-Schulwerk in the new millennium. Music Educators Journal, 88(3), 17-17.

Green, L. (2008). The project’s pedagogy and curriculum content. In Music, informal learning and the school: A new classroom pedagogy. Aldershot, Hampshire, England: Ashgate.

Shamrock, M. (1997). Orff-Schulwerk: An integrated foundation. Music Educators Journal, 83(6), 41. doi:10.2307/3399024