On Sylvia Wood's "Music Theory and Arranging" book…

Posted In: Repertoire

  • Participant
    evolene_t on #217341

    Hello everyone!

    (I’ve been unsuccessfully trying to post this topic a few times now… :-/ Sorry if it doubles up)

    I’ve been looking at Sylvia Wood’s Music Theory and Arranging Techniques book and would be interested to know what more advanced (lever!) players think of it.

    I’m actually really interested in the score for the lovely Irish song “The Bold Fenian Men” but I can’t seem to find it anywhere else but in this book. Does anyone have the score and be willing to share, by any chance? 🙂

    Living in Europe, and playing the double-strung harp, I find myself short of ressources.
    I have been wanting to find Laurie Riley’s “Secret of Celtic Style” DVD (and hoped there was a book made of it, but there isn’t). No only is it impossible to find here in France, but I’ve bought American DVDs before only to be unable to play them as the formatting is incompatible with European readers. I’ve gone as far as to contact Ms Riley to see if an arrangement could be made but she explained that she did not own the rights to this DVD (she was wonderfully kind, by the way).

    So, though I do not despair to see this DVD one day, I’ve been looking at other works.
    I’m hoping to understand harp theory, Celtic and medieval music, and adapt a few songs of my own : I was wondering if the book by Sylvia Woods could help me there.

    If you’ve read it, what did you think? Appart from scores, what is the general content?
    In the off-chance that you’ve also seen Laurie Riley’s DVD, how do they compare and do they cover completely different topics?

    I’ve trying to get a read on the book beyond the review offered by Sylvia woods. Thank you all for your input!

    Participant
    wil-weten on #217351

    Hi Evolène, I own S. Woods’ ‘Music Theory and Arranging for All Harps’ and I love it. It’s very practical, easy to understand and fun!

    The great thing about this is that from the very start you actually learn to make simple arrangements.

    Another great book is Pamela Bruner’s Harp Accompaniment for Vocals. This book would help you to learn and make nice accompaniments with the tunes your husband plays on his recorder.

    After you’ve studied Woods’ book, Bruner’s book is a lot easier to tackle, as Woods explains things more elaborately. But, Bruner’s books may give you many idea’s how to play together with a singer (or a recorderist etc). Perhaps it would be even nicest if you could use these two books next to one another.

    Have fun!

    Edit: you may like to read: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DVD_region_code and find out which possibilities you may have to finally get the dvd playing.

    Edit 2: you can see a lot more ‘preview pages’ when you log into your account at Amazon. If you don’t have an account there, you can only see a few pages. If you do have an account and are logged in, you can see substantially more pages and make a better informed decision.

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 2 months ago by wil-weten.
    • This reply was modified 3 years, 2 months ago by wil-weten.
    Participant
    evolene_t on #217355

    Hey Wil-Weten, thank you so much for your answer and for answering both questions at once 🙂 So many practical tips I would never have thought of!

    I wil also look at Bruner’s book, but perhaps start with Wood’s.
    (As for “fake books”, I’ve also taken a look at one on the Sylvia Wood website but I don’t feel confident enough yet to work with that. baby steps!)

    Participant
    wil-weten on #217356

    Hi Evolène, you are welcome. 🙂

    Yes, in your case, I would definitely start with Woods’ book. It contains a lot of folk tunes and suggestions on how to arrange them.

    You may also like to have a look at https://musescore.com/sheetmusic . There you may find a lot of easily playable music as well (and with the free open source software of MuseScore, you can also easily adapt the scores to your liking.

    Participant
    wil-weten on #217361

    I just had a quick look to find a simple arrangement for ‘Bold Fenian Men’. I found the same melody that Woods uses, but with a different title (Down by the Glenside).
    Here: http://gdaebouzouki.blogspot.nl/2010/10/down-by-glenside.html you can find the tune plus lyrics, plus chords and some extra information.

    Participant
    Biagio on #217366

    The Woods book is great in my opinion; so is the much more condensed book by Kim Robertson, “Arranging for Folk Harp.” Sylvia covers the concepts in detail, Kim presents more elaboration – they are great to study together.

    Can’t help with the Riley DVD but really it is pretty much concerned with style (as the title suggests): no large arpeggios, absolutely no glissandos “allowed”, use of open chords (typically 1-5-8, 1-5-8-5-8 etc.), where the beat falls (not always what you might expect from classical style), differences within the style – Manx vs. Northumbrian for example – use of ornaments rather than complicated patterns, etc.

    This all makes logical sense when you consider that it was (mostly) played on the wire harp: thirds and glisses sound just horrible because the sustain is so great. Better, then, to “fancy up” a simple melody that one might whistle or play on the pipes with ornaments, rather than a fancy melody with complicated structure. Not true in all cases: O’Carolan liked Italian baroque and you see more complex structure in the melody (we don’t know how he harmonized his tunes).

    Through it all she makes the point that the “Celtic style” originates from the aural tradition so the best way to study it is to listen to others. Lots of musicians have recordings on Youtube that use the style(s), and not necessarily harp. You might start with listening to Kim, Chris Caswell, Derek Bell, Maire Ni Chathathasaigh, Parick Ball, Cynthia Cathcart, Charles Guard, and so on.

    Best wishes,
    Biagio

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