Barbershop Arranging News

SemiQuaver: n. Music. A sixteenth note. British.

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Twice each month a different Barbershop arranger will be featured, along with 3-4 of his/her recent works. One of them might be great for your chorus or quartet.

Matt Swann

Matt Swann has been singing barbershop harmony for 15 years. From a young age he showed a strong interest in music theory and harmony-singing, and fostered that interest in both his high school years at Patapsco HS & Center for the Arts, and his college years at the University of Miami, where he earned his Bachelor of Music Cum Laude in Music Education. An avid quartetter and chorus director, he has earned two gold (College quartet and Int'l chorus) and four bronze (Int'l chorus) medals in his 15 yrs of barbershop singing, as well as placing in the top twenty quartets at Int'l three times (2007,2008, and 2011). He also directed the 2010 Int'l Youth Chorus Champion 52Eighty, and has taught music theory/arranging at the Rocky Mountain Harmony College.

Matt's arrangements have been performed by groups around the U.S. and abroad, including the Masters of Harmony, The Great British Barbershop Boys, Vocal Evolution, Toronto Northern Lights, Masterpiece, A Mighty Wind, and The Ambassadors of Harmony. He specializes in tailoring arrangements to the unique vocal quality and skill level of his clients, with charts that range from very easy to almost inhuman. Matt also coaches and teaches private voice lessons to groups around the U.S.

King of the Road (Roger Miller)
This setting of Roger Miller's 1960s classic has a jazzy, backbeat swing to it. It is moderately easy for a B or C-level chorus, with a few "modern" chord progressions thrown in here and there. Originally arranged for the Louisville Thoroughbreds Chorus.

Winter Weather Medley (Sammy Cahn/Julie Styne/Felix Bernard/Richard B. Smith)
This medley of "Let It Snow" and "Winter Wonderland" is a challenging rhythmic and harmonic tribute to the holiday season. Each voice part gets a melody line in this arrangement, which blends contrapuntal movement, key changes and fun patter sections that feature jazzy 9th and major 6th chords. Originally Arranged for McPhly.

Cheek to Cheek (Irving Berlin)
This contest arrangement of an Irving Berlin classic is a bit of a challenge to C-level or low B-level groups, but not out of reach. A newly-composed intro leads into a predictable presentation of this ballroom standard, with a few jazzy rhythmic entries. The bass part reaches down to a low E, the lead touches on a soft high A flat, and the tenor has a stunning high E flat finish on the tag. Originally arranged for McPhly.

You Got It (Jeff Lynne/Tom Petty)
This is a simple yet elegant treatment of Roy Orbison's classic tune. Originally arranged for Australia's Vocal Evolution Chorus, this chart starts with a cool, mellow backdrop of "ooh's" and builds to a driving downbeat back-patter toward the end. Not a rangy piece and quite simple for B and C-level groups to master. It can be heard on Vocal Evolution's album "Like A Song" .

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