Young Frankenstein for Violin and Organ

October 18, 2017, 10:36 PM · The violin seems to be an instrument that is associated with the devil, so it seems like a natural instrument to use for Halloween.

Obviously works by Bazzini, Paganini and Saint-Saëns come to mind. But around Halloween I tend to get silly and ask my friends to play dress up and work on some project. I’m normally rather straight-laced so the one time of year I can dress up and be silly is this.

Frankenstein and Paganini

A couple of years ago, my friends and I surprised the audience at a Halloween benefit with our rendition of “Let it Go” from Frozen.

The next year we were much more bold and had matching outfits so we boldly went where no musicians had gone before (call me Sulu).

Last year was decidedly bohemian…and I don’t mean Puccini.

But this year I wanted to do something more traditional.

A number of years ago, Gil Shaham recorded a cd called Devil’s Dance. It’s really quite a wonderful disk and features the Transylvanian Lullaby from one of my favorite movies Young Frankenstein. Just call me Abby Normal!

I can’t count the number of times people have asked me if I can play the tune from Young Frankenstein. It is memorable and of course a beautiful melody performed beautifully by the studio orchestra.

Mr Shaham and Mr Feldman do an amazing job with this, but for some reason, I felt it needed a certain je ne sais quoi.

I found the sheet music of Jonathan Feldman’s wonderful arrangement online (https://iainjacksonpiano.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/transylvanian-lullaby.pdf) and tried it out myself.

After some time with the score I had an eureka moment: what is it in the horror movies that the mad scientist always plays?

Yup, pipe organ. What if I took this great arrangement and put it on the organ? My friend Mac Cooney took up the challenge. We went to his church and worked on it. The organ lends itself wonderfully to this piece. Picking which stops was up to Mac. Mac selected which manual had what instrument and as we experimented, he realized that the trills and tremolos were not needed. By holding the notes down, the beating of the notes give an eerie effect.

Though I think the violin is the greatest of all instruments, they call the organ the “king of instruments.” In this case I think it lives up to its title.

Happy Halloween!

Replies

October 19, 2017 at 10:05 PM · Terrific musical evolution of this piece! Mr. Shen's decision to use an organ for accompanying the violin is inspired! It feels like this should have been written this way all along. Love it for his expressive playing and the overall level of increased creepiness! Great Halloween music!!!

October 20, 2017 at 12:17 AM · Darwin, this is even better than candy corn (and I LOVE candy corn)!! Bravo!

October 21, 2017 at 06:11 PM · I also want to point out that the original in the movie is with orchestra. The violinist in he movie doesn’t get the credit he deserves. Bravo Gerry Vinci! http://m.imdb.com/name/nm3832772/

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