Adeste Fideles – O Come, All Ye Faithful

Download brass quartet sheet music: Adeste Fideles – O Come, All Ye Faithful.

Please note that “Adeste Fideles – O Come, All Ye Faithful” is also part of the compilation Christmas Reharmonized, Volume 1.

Here’s what it sounds like when played on a piano:

The Story Behind

So far I only reharmonized Austrian or German Christmas Carols that came to me somewhat naturally. E.g., I knew which song to do next without spending too much time thinking. This time around I went to youtube and spent a whole night browsing interpretations of Christmas Carols. That’s how I stumbled across “O Come, All Ye Faithful”. Which, actually is the favorite Christmas Carol of one of the trumpet players I usually play with on Christmas Eve. I especially enjoyed the version of some musicians of the fabulous WDR big band:

I don’t have such a nice selection of instruments at my disposal. The boundary conditions I work with are:

  • Four instruments: Trumpet 1, Trumpet 2, Trombone/Euphonium, Tuba.
  • I work with avid music hobbyist, who are usually quite challenged by my arrangements and might even discard them as too weird.

I work with what I have. To address the latter condition I usually start my arrangements with a plain, old-school version of the tune. This allows the ensemble to make a decision to skip the reharmonized part, while not entirely discarding the arrangement.

For the reharmonization I did not want to reuse the drop-2 approach from previous arrangements. The first four bars came quite naturally, especially the chord progression. The rhythmic variation of the melody I borrowed from the WDR big band video. After playing around with several options for bar 5, I discovered the use of So-What Voicings. As I only have four voices, one tone is missing for a complete So-What Chord, but it’s close enough. Also rhythmically I borrowed from Miles Davis’ original So What.

From that point on I thought: Hey, let’s deploy some more upper structures and put them at the core of the reharmonization. I don’t know why, but for upper structures I especially like second inversions. So that’s what I used: A triad in second inversion sitting atop of a base note (the four voice limitation does not allow for more). For the chorus I used similar voicings as for the verse.

The last two bars I had to redo multiple times. At the beginning I had a harmonically complex version. However, this lead to a very harsh transition when playing the “Da Capo”. So I went back to a basic II7sus4-V7b9-I cadence, which bridges yet another upper structure cord with a straight major chord.

And that’s all to it.

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