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I tried to write a “dark” arrangement for a christmas tune


Hope it's not too early for some christmas music, but I really wanted to share this.

I wanted to see if I could write dark, slightly evil arrangement for Mariah Careys "All I want for christmas is you". You get to decide if I was succesful

From a creative standpoint I tried to imagine what the tune should sound like if that wish never came true. (Nobody ever said so ayway)

I wanted to make it sound like something Duke Ellington might have written.

Any kind of feedback is welcome, I never took any arrangement classes, but I really want to get better!



Kind like Cab Calloway meets Mariah. Nice!


I love this! You’ve reharmonized it enough that I think you can consider this your original now. Great work!


Wow. What a fun arrangement. Very well done. Back when I was a church choir director, during rehearsal, I'd play the introductions to hymns in minor just to annoy the choir. Joy to the World has a decidedly different feel in D minor!


It sounds great although I don't even recognize it as the original song. Like Paul said, you could theoretically make this an original by you.


I'm with the other fellers - sounds great! Nice arrangement, beautifully presented.

If I had any critique, it would be that the rather blocky piano intro, with its sprung cadence, goes on a bit overlong. I had a hard time finding the groove in it I was expecting, then hoped the rhythm you were playing would fit interestingly into the arrangement when the band and groove kicked in. But that's not what happened - the piano cadence simply changed to fit into the whole-band swing. I get that you wanted to introduce and let us luxuriate in the rich voicings of the chords by themselves, but the section seems kinda grafted to the rest of the song rather than an organic part of it. If the chords were strummily arpeggiated rather than blocked, and if the rhythm were freer and less chunky, it would feel to me a much moodier meditation.

I could be wrong, of course, and at any rate it's all a question of personal taste. And please don't let my over-specific comment on the intro suggest I don't think the whole piece isn't perfectly fabulous! It is.

I have some production questions. I assume you're playing the piano (and nice chops!) From the sound, it could be a physical upright piano, but that's rare now. So - standalone electronic keyboard (if so, which?), or plug-in or other digital source? (Again, which?)

I have the same questions about the other instruments: it's perfectly possible for one guy to play all those "real" instruments that well, but the combination of wind and rhythm is unusual. It could also be a whole actual band...but that seems even more unlikely, unless you have some talented friends and a helluva studio setup, and are all quick enough studies to set up and record such an arrangement for what I'm (perhaps wrongly) assuming is satisfaction in a personal project more than a professional undertaking.

So again - are the sounds plug-ins to a DAW, samples from a keyboard, what? And what is the recording environment? The room sound around the solo horn and the drums (and their tuning and parts) are perfectly suited to the material, completely genuine in impression. I'm just curious what sound set it might be.


Thanks for all the kind words so far! That really means a lot to me, and it's certainly really encouraging!

I also feel kinda flattered by everyone saying it sounds like a completely new tune, because actually that's what I had hoped for: I tend to like cover versions of Songs that you might not get immediately. I think that gives the Cover it's own meaning instead of just being a "copy".

To everybody suggesting picking it up as an original Song: I really like the Chord Changes I ended up with, and am actually considering writing a new melody for them to really making it an original tune.


Thanks a lot for the elaborate review, I'll try to answer to all of your questions: I totally get what you say about the piano intro. But I think my friend Joshua (who played the piano) tried to get that ragged time feel you hear on older records of Duke Ellington, which in fact is what I had in mind for this piece. I certainly value your opinion though, and don't want to justify, because -as you already perfectly stated- I guess it's just a matter of personal taste. I just wanted to explain about the reason for these musical choices.

So to make it clear concerning your other question: I haven' played all the instruments on the record, and wouldn't be able to. We recorded this with my Swing-Band the Gramophoniacs. I only played the acoustic rhythm guitar. As I already said, I wanted to create that sort of "ellingtonian-vibe", so I decided it was best to stay in the background and let my bandmates shine. I actually really enjoy doing so.

What you're hearing is in fact a physical grand piano, and concerning the Drums an actual Drumkit from the 1930s (with real cowhide skins, and old templeblocks etc.).

We had some studio time booked, and I'm in the fortunate situation to have some really talented friends. I had actually just finshed the arrangement just the night before, so everyone saw the sheet music for the first time that day, and as you heard: these guys are able to pull it off!

Concerning the Studio Situation: Altough we were in a professional studio it's actually a pretty primitive setup: We tried to go as oldschool as possible, so what yo hear, are just two microphones in the middle of the room, and the Band in a circle around them.

This is just the rough mix though, we also had some closeup mics in front of the instruments to make slight adjustments possible, but again, what you're hearing is only the sound from the middle of the room.

I hope that answered all of your questions.

And thanks again for all the kind words so far, it's really encouraging. And I really want to write more music in this style in the future.



Ah. Interesting. You're indeed in a fortunate position, having a band at your disposal! No wonder everything sounded so real.

I guess I was hoping samples had gotten that good now. I don't know that none in my library are that good - it's often a matter or articulation and understanding the real-life range and phrasing of the instruments - but I don't think they are.

The production values certainly sounded very genuine, even period-authentic.

Geez, if I had charts, I'd love to have your band record some of my tunes which would be appropriate to that vibe!

I get what you're saying about the piano intro, it does kinda capture Ellington's apparently casual vibe. Still think it might go on longer than necessary to make the statement.

Kudos to everyone involved.

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