One of the most fun things for a couple do to together as they plan their wedding is to choose their music. Often, they already have a special song in mind that they want to include in the ceremony or cocktail hour. They can have “their song” played during the bride’s processional, during the unity ceremony, for the recessional or for another point in the ceremony or celebration.
For a couple who wants to include a less standard song, we can almost always arrange that song for them to play on their special day. We can also record the song in a studio for them to have as a keepsake to play on their anniversary, embed in their wedding video, play in the background as they look through their wedding photos or just play when they feel like reminiscing. Some couples choose the songs together, others want to surprise each other and we’ve even had parents of the couples choose a song to surprise the couple with on their wedding day.
We do charge a fee for arranging a song, because it is quite a time consuming and complicated process. If we aren’t already familiar with the song, the first thing we have to do is listen to it enough times to really understand the message and absorb the character of it. Then we have to begin arranging the song.
Since music for the flute and guitar is generally not published, the first thing we do after we’ve become familiar with the song is write out the parts of music that the flute will play and the guitar will play. Generally, the flute plays the majority of the melody while the guitar plays the harmony and chords. The guitar normally plays an introduction by itself and often the ending itself. Depending on the song, the guitar may take the melody at some point as well. When we write out the parts, we decide, based on the original song, where it would sound best for guitar alone and both instruments together. (The flute rarely plays more than a few notes alone.) While we often don’t have time to play the complete songs because of time limitations, we almost always arrange the whole song in case we want to play it in its entirety later in the day or some other time. To write out the parts, we either use a printed vocal and piano part or lead sheet as a guide or we listen to the recording and write the parts out. Once the basic parts are transcribed, we go back and add in any little inflections that are performed but not notated in the basic music. We write the parts in music notation software called Finale.
Depending upon where in the ceremony, cocktail hour, or other part of the celebration, we may need to alter the original form of the song to suit the couple’s request. If the song is too short for the time needed, we decide what parts should be repeated. If it’s too long, which is often the case for processionals with short aisles for the wedding party, groom or bride to walk down, we have to decide how to shorten the song. This means making sure that we play the main chorus and important parts of the song and leave out transitional sections or less familiar parts. We also have to decide where we can potentially end the song depending upon the timing during the actual performance. We generally choose several potential ending points.
Because the songs were not originally written for our instruments, we then have to go back to the recording and listen again for stylistic characteristics that can be written in to the music to help it sound most like the original. This includes things like how to start, stop and shape each note, how loud each section is, where the song gets louder or softer, where it gets faster or slower, etc. These types of stylistic features get noted in the music.
After we have the music written, we share it with each other to make any suggested changes, and then we each practice our parts by ourselves until we feel confident with them. Then we get together to rehearse. This is when we work together to create the most authentic yet customized version of the song that the couple has requested. If the couple has requested that we record the song for them, we schedule a special time in the studio to record the song. Once it’s recorded, it gets mixed and mastered and then finally delivered to the couple.
Many couples these days are choosing non-traditional wedding songs that have special meaning to them, and we are happy to accommodate them. We’d love to hear what YOUR song is and arrange it to play for your special day! Contact us today!