I’ve been very quiet with my blog, mostly because I’ve been busy making a noise with all 5 of my choirs and a new ensemble – but something has cropped up recently which I thought I’d share.
Mr Brightside by The Killers was their first single. What a start!!! Released from the ‘Hot Fuss’ album (2004) and yet it never made number 1! It is, however, one of the top fifteen most downloaded rock tracks ever in the United Kingdom.
It’s a great karaoke song! It’s not very melodic and so quite easy to sing along to but as a choir song? Probably not the best….. or so I thought…
I first arranged this song for Churchfields Community Choir in 2017. In these early days `I simply played the song in the stereo through the kitchen speakers and recorded extra harmony parts into my phone. Then played what I’d recorded in my phone through he kitchen speaker and added yet another part. Simple but effective! This enabled me to teach it by ear to my singers.
I took the main tune for my altos (I call them yellows) and added firstly some higher harmony (reds) after a unison section – I like to start in unison as I feel it gives a grounding to the piece. Also, anyone listening finds it instantly recognisable and then an ‘oohhhh, now what’s happening’ kind of moment occurs. It keeps the interest not only of the singers but the audience. I then added in a lower harmony (a greeny-blue) which comes in a little later. So essentially, it’s arranged for three parts. (With an extra one part at the very very end…let’s call this pink)
Churchfields Community Choir performed this at many local events as well as in the pub (it always goes down well in a pub as everyone sings along!) and then I moved away and started The West Bridgford Liberty Singers. By term 2 I’d decided that it was time to get this song out of retirement and it went down just as well. I tweaked this and that to create a ‘better’ arrangement and taught it again by ear. Many large events and performances later and we were in lockdown.
Fast forward to 2021 and I now have The West Bridgford Liberty SIngers, The ICU Liberty SIngers, The Skincredible Liberty Singers and the NHSBT Liberty Singers alongside the Liberty Belles and I was kind of missing Mr Brightside. I’ve moved so far forward with the technology creating audio recordings on Ableton live on our home studio – I was ready to recreate the whole song.
The ICU Liberty SIngers loved singing along on zoom so the project needed to be done quickly so that they could learn the parts. I sing each part along to a backing track bought from www.karaoke-version.co.uk always starting with the main tune. I usually then go for the lower harmonies as I tend to need some time to warm up for the high parts (not being a natural soprano). The more I sang it, the better it got. I might’ve added a little flourish here and there as is my way and I found myself wanting to sing it more and more.
I’m part of a fabulous Facebook membership group called ‘The Inspire Club’ for Creative Choir leaders run by Beth Morgan. When Matt Finch (another inspire clubber) was looking for choir leaders to lead songs at his Singing United event at Bath City FC in July…. I put myself forward to teach this. How cool will it be to hear it being sung by so many!? My ensemble group The Liberty Las wanted to sing it in a garden last night – how cool was it to hear it with just 6 voices! And I found that I simply wanted to share this and make it accessible to as many people as possible.
More connections through The Inspire club led me to Tim Allen who agreed to do the musical typesetting for the arrangement, I was a bit nervous about sharing my audio guide tracks with him and the voice in my head said “What if they’re not good enough? What if you’re not good enough? What if your arrangement isn’t good enough” but Tim assured me everything was in order and worth being shared. He created a 6 page pdf of my work. MY WORK!!! I felt so proud! I might have it framed!!
So I now have proper music that I can look at and be proud of. I have the starting of feeling like a proper arranger even though I’ve been doing it for years. Who knows where this might take me? I might start selling and sharing my work with choirs all over the world and we can all feel like Mr Brightside together! Destiny is calling me? Open up my eager eyes, cause I’m Mr Brightside.