Choral Arrangement for When the North Pole Melts
by Captain Sea Level
Here is a 1.1
meg file with the arrangement for bass, baritone, two tenors, one soporano
or alto, and melody. Other files have the lyrics
Errata and More Arranger's Notes
1 The soprano. In the 1988 recording, the
soprano is inaudible most of the time because she lost her voice practicing
the part the night before, so we mixed her way down. That's the first
tenor hitting that "F" at the end. So if you only have five voices,
I would omit the high part.
2. Introduction. I didn't write out the introduction,
but it is the same as the first line for the chorus, except nothing but oo's
3. Ho and Ho-ho-ho in the third and fourth line.
The tenors get to sing "ho-ho-ho" in the first measure of the third
and fourth lines for verses 1, 2, and 3, while the bass, baritone, and soprano
sing a "Ho" for the "Hole" note. In the fourth verse, by contrast,
all voices just carry a legatto "Ho" all the way through the first and second
measures--those eight notes really become quarter notes. The bass
gets his ho-ho's in later, of course.
4. Variations in the third verse. The 1988
recording had both a long and short version, with the latter omitting the
third verse. We thought the song was probably too long. But
other variations in the mixes left the poppin p's even more pronounced, so
the radio stations played the long version instead. At the time, it
seemed to me that the only way to get people to play such a long song with
so many words, was to give some variation to the delivery of the verse. I
can not speculate on whether you would need to do this, so I'll just tell
you about what I was thinking and what we did: In the recording, the
chorus sang the first and second verses the same as always; but Walter, Carl,
and I came into the booth to record a second melody track to represent
the Australian Labor Party and some Russians (then part of the Soviet Union).
The Australian Labor Party just sings melody. As Russians, Carl and
I sang melody one octave lower than the verse is written; Walter sang the
same words and rhythm as us, but sang the same pitches as the bass. John's
baritone part did the same thing for that line only. (Kirby and the
two tenors sang the entire verse the same way as always.) By doing
it this way, we were violating a general rule of choral arrangement, which
is not to have people down in the bass cleff singing intervals less than
a fourth--we had thirds and seconds. Doing so creates an annoying,
muddy sound. But for 4-6 bars when you are trying to call to mind some
Volga Boat Men, it seemed to work. Live, we had the baritone
and bass do what John and Walter had done, and one of the tenors and I sang
melody an octave lower. The higher tenor and soprano joined me in singing
"the currents can do the rest". As a general point, it doesn't seem
to matter much whether the higher voices sing the melody or their part while
helping with the 3rd-verse lyrics.
5. Oops: The bridge between the verse and
the chorus. Note that this version of the chart omits the shift back
into 4/4 time for verses 1,2, and 3. So write that in. Note
that in the fourth verse, Santa only has four ho's and everyone is singing
quarter notes for "When the."
6. In the last measure of the chorus for verses
1,2, and 3, melody helps to create two chords by backing off on the volume
to become part of the mix. Depending on the verse, you may need to
take a breath, and backing off into the mix makes the breath less obvious.
7. Oops. You need to annotate that the bottom
of page 5 is the ending of the chorus for verses 1, 2, and 3; and the final
line on page 6 is the ending for verse 4.