bridal processionals

Canon in D-Johann Pachelbel

In any discussion of music for a wedding processional, we’d have to start here. Being a “Classical Musician” I have long been aware of the composer Johann Pachelbel and his most famous piece, “Canon in D.” However his name has become synonymous with wedding ceremonies. What makes it so perfect is the slow, regal pace and the majestic simplicity of the principle thematic line. It doesn’t hurt that it’s been used in several movies including the heartbreaking Robert Redford directed “Ordinary People.” Since then, the piece has become as famous as most ‘Pop’ tunes.Then it was used in several high profile TV commercial including  “G.E. Lightbulbs” and Jaguar Cars .

Although the names sound similar, please don’t mistake Pachelbel with Taco-Bell. Johann Pachelbel was a German composer during the Baroque Period, and lived from 1653-1706. Although it’s been used countless times, it should never be dismissed for overexposure. One reason this “canon” works so well as a Processional is that it is really a simple “round” allowing the piece can go on as long or as short as the recession lasts.

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This is the official tried and true classic. You can be comfortable using The Pachelbel in D without fearing of using the same tune as everyone else. It has become the “Go-To” Processional, replacing Wagner’s “Wedding March.”
Try it out and let me know what you think.
-Doug

Let’s Stay Together-Maroon 5

True R ‘n B devotees might have me kicked out of the “Hipness Club” for daring to play Adam Levine’s delicate version of Al Green’s 1971 “Soul” classic “Let’s Stay Together.”  Green’s original is spectacular, and well-loved, having been viewed over 72 million times on YouTube. However, for a wedding procession, a song has to be stripped down and be able to be played delicately by two musicians, while still honoring the Al Green original. Adam Levine is one of the few male vocalists with the vocal “chops’ to pull off this song without losing any of the soulful simplicity of the original.

My bride for this weekend….well, not my bride….but you get the idea, Alexandra,  and I spent countless hours on the phone and sent each other dozens of emails laughing about which 90s dance hit would/could sound appropriate for a Wedding Processional without sounding goofy.

As a pianist and arranger, I assured her that I could make any song sound melodic enough for a procession.  I’m pretty sure we spent the most time laughing, yet seriously considering TLCs “No Scrubs” the longest.  She finally landed on Levine’s arrangement for the simplicity of the instrumentation, while retaining Al Green’s iconic melody. We both think it’s a great choice. Personally, I’ll always maintain that choosing any song that actually “means” something to you as the bride or the groom, you can never go wrong.

Leave me a comment to let me know how you feel.

Somewhere Over The Rainbow-IZ

I’ve always thought that “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” would make a perfect “Parent Dance,” but the original Judy Garland version is too much of a diva performance song, that would bring more attention to the singer, than to the groom and his mother or the bride and her father. I first heard this arrangement by Hawaiin singer Israel Kamakawiwo’ole in the closing credits of the movie “Finding Forrester” and fell in love with it. I heard it again in the Brad Pitt movie “Meet Joe Black.”

I always thought the lyrics to the song could easily be interpreted as a parent advising their son or daughter to always reach for the dream of living the most beautiful life they could envision, with the rainbow representing any possible obstacles that may get in the way. At a wedding, the message is even more appropriate than ever, because the bridal couple will be searching for that special place together.
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The simplicity of the solo ukulele with a quasi-reggae back-beat accompanying Israel’s soft, “island-breezy” voice is the perfect version of this 1938 Harold Arlen’s great American classic.
Give a listen, and let me know what you think.
Doug

Cider House Rules-Rachel Portman

Some of the most beautiful, evocative instrumental music, perfect for processionals, are written for Hollywood soundtracks. One the finest composers for film is Rachel Portman, who was the first woman to win an Academy Award for Best Original Score for the movie “Cider House Rules” in 2000. The movie also won for six other Oscars including Best Picture, Best Director (Lasse Hallstrom), Best Supporting Actor (Michael Caine) and Best Adapted Screenplay (John Irving)

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“Cider House Rules” is one of my all time favorite films, with Portman’s soundtrack reaching the pantheon of some of the greatest composers for film, like Ennio Morricone, John Williams and the late James Horner who tragically died in a plane crash in June, 2015. Horner won an Academy Award for Titanic in 1997, which also became the largest selling soundtrack of all time, selling over 30 million units.

Many of the pieces that I will be reccomending in the Ceremony section in the blog will be coming from film soundtracks. Rachel Portman’s sensational score for “Cider House Rules” is as beautiful as the movie itself. In the next few blog entries I’ll be trying to introduce some of the most beautiful, sentimental, romantic scores to accompany the Bride and Bridal Party down the aisle. Definitely give this one a listen.

Let me know what you think.
-Doug

Air On The G String-J.S. Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach’s 1722 masterwork, most often referred to as “Air On The G String,” is a spectacular choice for your wedding processional. The full title is actually “Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D major (Second Movement.) BWV 1068.”

Paired with Johann Pachelbel’s “Canon in D,” “Air On The G String” flows seamlessly  from the Full Procession to the separate Bridal Procession. Both works, written three hundred years ago have uniquely recognizable melodic themes, making them accessible to even the most casual “Classical Music” fan. As opposed to instrumental arrangements of contemporary tunes, the one-two punch of Bach and Pachelbel serve as a timeless accompaniment to both the simplest and most elegant of wedding processionals.

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Let me know what you think.
-Doug

Erev Shel Shoshanim

Erev Shel Shoshanim is the perfect song for a Jewish Bridal Procession. This is the Wikipedia definition for the Hebrew title: “Erev Shel Shoshanim  English: Evening of Lilies or “Evening of Roses.” The Hebrew word shoshana has been identified with both flower. It is a poetic Hebrew love song. Its melody is often used as wedding music in Jewish weddings, as a replacement for Here Comes the Bride.”

The melody is simple, clear and beautiful and works equally well as an instrumental or vocal. It also works very well when paired with Johann Pachelbel’s Canon in D.

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Mazel Tov.
-Doug

Mona Lisas & Mad Hatters

On May 4, 2013 we played Elton John’s esoteric classic “Mona Lisas & Mad Hatters” for a delightful client, who requested it for their bridal processional. I thought it was a terrific choice, and it turned out to be extremely successful. While it may not be Elton John’s most famous song, the melody is extremely song and worked extremely as an instrumental with guitar and keyboard. Which basically makes everything about that party just about perfect.

Sir Elton and lyricist Bernie Taupin are known for their evocative, sensitive lyrics as well as Elton’s instantly recognizable piano sound. However, the fact that music for Wedding Processions are played simply by instrumentalists and render the lyrics irrelevant. The key element is that the melody is strong enough to stand on its own. And quite frankly the lyrics to “Mona Lisas & Mad Hatters” are sweet but fairly inconsequential,

While Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters
Sons of bankers, sons of lawyers
Turn around and say good morning to the night
For unless they see the sky
But they can’t and that is why
They know not if it’s dark outside or light

But just to give Bernie Taupin his due, one lyric would fit nicely if indeed it were to be sung:
I thank the Lord there’s people out there like you.

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With it’s strong chordal structure and clear melody, Mona Lisas & Mad Hatters does make a terrific addition to your choices for your wedding procession…one that you almost never find on any traditional list.

Let me know what you think.
-Doug

Beautiful Day-U2

U2s Beautiful Day has rapidly made its way onto the list of standard recessional tunes. The very beginning of the Chorus is the place to start, with the easily recognizable tune and appropriate (albeit unsung) lyrics “It’s A Beautiful Day…”

This is one that fits with just about any other classical, pop or movie soundtrack choices. The song definitely takes on an upbeat “feel” when compared to the others, but does make a distinctly bold and confident choice.

Let me know what you think.
-Doug

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Tiny Dancer-Elton John

When I posted Elton John’s “Mona Lisas & Mad Hatters” as a terrific procession song suggested by our client for May 4, 2013, I mentioned that although it might not have been Elton’s most famous song it worked incredibly well because of it’s delicate, very strong melody.
Well, if “Mona Lisas & Mad Hatters” isn’t Elton John’s most famous hit, “Tiny Dancer” might possibly his most iconic song, thanks to Cameron Crowe, and the movie “Almost Famous.”
The two main reasons this song works so well as a wedding processional is the immediately recognizable sound of Sir Elton’s piano playing, and the temptation to sing along to the chorus. Getting your guests to smile during your procession adds an element of togetherness, as well as delight that you had the foresight to chose an unpredictable, albeit perfect choice, which truly can set a warm, easy-going mood for the entire evening.

In the iconic 2000 movie “Almost Famous,” Billy Crudup stars as a “B-level” troubled   egocentric “bad boy.” Following a near-disastrous encounter with teen-aged fans, Crowe selected “Tiny Dancer” as the song to represent the music that brings the band back together as a unit. He allows us to hear the song with only Elton, then each member of the band joining in until everyone’s singing the chorus in full voice “….Hold me closer, Tiny Dancer….” Great scene, great movie, unique and instantly recognizable processional choice.

As a side note. I’ve never heard anybody mention how or why Cameron Crowe cast a virtual unknown Billy Crudup to portray the troubled, charismatic shaggy-haired, 20-something, mustached rocker…who bears an uncanny resemblance to the young James Taylor. In case you were wondering, that’s Sweet Baby James on the left, looking a whole lot hipper than the tall, bald, ex-heroin-addict we will always love as the living embodiment of the heart-rendering  balladeer singer/songwriter/poet laureate of the Baby Boom Generation.

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But getting back to Elton John, “Tiny Dancer’s” universal appeal remains a major part of the pantheon of great rock ‘n roll songs, certainly one that is fun and instantly recognizable.

Try it as the Full Processional, rather than the Bridal Procession, because of the length of the song.Let me know what you think.
-Doug