Posts Tagged: Harmony

An Open Letter to the Chief Arranger or Music Supervisor or Whomever of Glee:

According to (via New York City Opera’s Twitter feed), an upcoming episode of your television show will feature Jane Lynch and Carol Burnett singing “Ohio” from Leonard Bernstein’s Wonderful Town.

I could hardly think of a finer pair of actresses to perform this classic of the American musical theater.  This is one of my favorite Bernstein tunes of all time, and I think it was an inspired choice to include on your program.

Just a few hints:

1) Please do not tamper with the lower part.  It’s not just your average harmony.  It is quite specific and quite specifically brilliant:

In the space of just a few measures, it goes from shadowing the melody a sixth below (“Why-oh-why-oh-why-oh”) to moving in contrary motion (“why did I”), and goes up this amazing contrapuntal arpeggio (“ever leave O-“), setting up the most extraordinarily beautiful double appoggiatura (“hi-o”) [like, ever]. And the intricacies only compound from there.

It is this lower harmony – let’s just go ahead and call it the “tenor” part, since that’s really where it lies – that gives the song it’s wistful, melancholic charm.

2) It is a well established fact that you guys auto-tune the shit out of this show.  Maybe these kids really can’t sing in tune and you’re just doing your job, so OK.  But please, if you’re going to auto-tune this song, and you’re going to do it in the key of Db (hint, hint), please auto-tune it so that the low C in the “tenor” part sounds exactly as flat and manish sounding as Rosalind Russell’s in the above (on the syllable “e-” of “ever”).  Thanks.

3) If you’re going to continue into the “chatter” section of the song (and I certainly hope that you will), I’ll completely understand if you have to re-write the dialogue to suit the particular needs of your plot.  This is assuming that the episode in question will contain a plot, which I understand is no small assumption given the typical episode of GLEE.  However, I would suggest that you keep the spunky little jazzed-up arrangement of the main tune in the background:

4) Other than that, just have a great time and let these two magnificent ladies do their thing!  Oh and try to at least approximate the original orchestration with real instruments.  ‘K Thanks!


William White