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Christmas songs.. Ugh

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by markoc, Dec 5, 2017.

  1. markoc


    Jan 6, 2014
    North San Diego
    Playing my first Christmas show on Sunday since I was in HS orchestra 36 years ago. Is it me or are the arrangements odd on alot of traditional Xmas songs?
    I only received the set list yesterday, it's up to me to arrange two of the songs. My plan is to kinda dumb them down a bit as we will probably not get any rehearsal time before the gig.
    Fishyfishfish likes this.
  2. McG

    McG Goat Hill Gamblers

    Oct 6, 2010
    Costa Mesa, CA
    Since it was our last gig before NYE We decided to throw in a Christmas song. Settled on Jingle Bells because it is the easiest. It was a lot of fun. As for doing all the traditional holiday songs in a Christmas show... hmmm... I would need to dumb them down a LOT :laugh:
    markoc likes this.
  3. Richland123


    Apr 17, 2009
    We used to play a 3 piece rocked up version of Frosty The Snowman.
    markoc, Jimmy4string and McG like this.
  4. Lizooki


    Feb 24, 2008
    Church , praise/worship player.
    I would be in church even if I didn't play.
    I absolutely hate playing Christmas music.
    For all your reasons and more.

  5. delta7fred


    Jul 3, 2007
    We played a gig on Thursday where Christmas songs were requested so we did 4. They went down really well and the audience joined in when they knew the words.

    White Christmas
    Rocking Around the Christmas Tree
    Let it Snow
    Walking in a Winter Wonderland

    I can take or leave them but at that gig they fitted in and were fun to play.
  6. Ultradust

    Ultradust Commercial User

    May 19, 2007
    Seoul, Republic of Korea
    General Manager, Moollon
    Certainly nothing wrong with dumbing down a good hunk of them, methinks :)

    I think the issue for a band setting of any size is that so many Xmas tunes are quite distantly removed from typical harmonic phrasing of the music we grew up on and know so well in pop/rock history. This applies as much to both traditionals and sacred carols, as well as the 20th century classics that were informed by a rich Jazz/Great American Songbook tradition: Chord changes on which beat and how closely they correspond to melodic phrasing, to substitute or not to substitute (moar 2-5-1s and half diminished!!!), ho-hum secondary inversions to precede a cadence or not, the whole mess...some carols can be a proper challenge to rehearse in a band with everyone agreeing on everything.

    A few years ago when Jeff Schroeder was here in Korea, he and I had fun loosening up Vince Guaraldi's classic Charlie Brown tune by diluting anything jazzy/dense in harmonic movement, setting meter to 4/4, and turning it into easy-listening dream pop tune. No doubt the original is a gorgeous Vince Guaraldi classic and really shouldn't be tampered with in the first place, but for us it was a sort of study in simplification that ended up being offset by a dense pop + orchestral arrangement (later exploding into a Beach-Boys-flavored dream pop ending), and sometimes in a band situation when you don't have much time, heading in the direction of harmonic and rhythmic simplicity may not necessarily be a bad idea...

  7. RustyAxe


    Jul 8, 2008
    It could be worse. I play in a classic country band. We'll be rolling out those old country Christmas tunes ... "Santa Looks a Lot Like Daddy", "Blue Christmas", "Pretty Paper", and a dozen or more that we only do once a year. And for sure someone will request Jingle Bells (and we'll do it rockabilly style, yeah ... :cool: ), Silver Bells, Frosty the Snowman ... oh good lord, I just can't wait! :rollno:
    Fishyfishfish and delta7fred like this.
  8. 1st Bass

    1st Bass

    May 26, 2005
    Forest Grove, OR
    Guess I was thinking of the Christmas hymns...I sang in a choir, forty-odd years ago, and the bass parts were great. So, those are the bass-parts I hear in my head whenever these old hymns are played or sung. Having sung bass for so many years, it is easy for me to hear or play those lines. Besides, I love the doctrine taught in so many of them (though, to be sure, there are some odd ones, too.)
    Sore Thumb and Ultradust like this.
  9. LUpton

    LUpton Supporting Member

    Oct 22, 2012
    Tampa, FL
    Probably too old for this sh--
    The trumpet player in our band sent this one around...

    christmas music.
    delta7fred, Fishyfishfish and McG like this.
  10. I feel your pain, much like jumping on a broken ankle.....Well, not that bad. Some of those lines are pretty cool IF I play them right.

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