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In the past month, I have spoken at length about some of the orchestration stuff I am recording at the live taping in August. Today, I want to talk about one of the other songs we are doing.
“Come Thou Fount” is probably a familiar hymn to you but you may not know of the alternate tune from The Sacred Harp. It is American and very Appalachian. We are doing it in a style that will feel very bluegrass but also very uptempo. I am not sure the traditional speed it is sung at but I am pretty sure we are doing it at least twice as fast as that:)
Like about half the songs I am recording that night, I am going to be playing this tune with double bass, fiddle and drums. The songs that fall into this category are very stylistically different than the orchestrated pieces but more importantly, they are philosophically different. Basically, we are doing them democratically, meaning every musician is free to do what they want within a framework. Improvisation is encouraged. If you heard us play one of those songs ten times, it would sound different each time.
But something that you should understand about this kind of music is that there is a framework that everyone works from. Every time through the song will have almost the same tempo and the same number of bars. Major dynamics are pre-planned too.
The form here is quite simple. There is a little 8-bar vamp that we use as the intro, ending and interludes. I trade melody with the fiddle and we do a few verses of improvisation over the form. What that means is that we play the chords of the song but make up new melodies on top of it. (When you see the term “solo” on these charts, it is referring to improvisation.) Basically, we play the song through 5 times, and with the vamps, it takes 3 minutes.