Several weeks ago while on my way home from work, this song came on the radio. It seemed to be based off of Pachelbel's Canon in D but had been arranged as a Christmas song. It sounded very complex but really only had a couple of moving rhythms and the singing parts were basically two women in harmony. Suddenly it dawned on me that my little church orchestra might be able to pull this off.
First I had to figure out what the song was. After describing the song to several musical folks I know, one finally recognized what I was talking about. It was Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s (TOS's) "Christmas Canon". So starting with sheet music from a deconstructed midi of Pachelbel's Canon, I began reshaping it into something very similar to TOS's tune. Basically, the majority of my orchestra would play the base rhythm which is nothing more than a long series of half note cords. After an appropriate introduction, I would have two women come in singing lyrics similar to TOS's but with a more nativity oriented theme. And about half way through the piece, my wife on flute and I on soprano sax would pickup with Pachelbel's main fast-moving melody. And I even simplified that a bit for easy playability.
On the computer, this all sounded great and I believed my little group of high school kids and middle-aged returning players could pull this off. Boy, was I wrong.
The kids playing the long series of half notes to make of the base rhythm kept losing their places and getting off beat. They needed constant direction to stay on track. Next, the girls doing the singing could not stay on pitch because the singing parts are very different from the music going on behind them. And when I quit conducting to join in with Pachelbel's main melody, the rest of the orchestra just fell apart. Plus, that fast-moving melody is much harder to play than it looks when you are just sight reading it. I needed some serious practice. And to top it all off, my wife was home sick and not at practice.
In the end, I had to call the whole thing off. I told the orchestra to just show up Sunday morning and I would have something very simple, like "Joy to the World", that we could play without practice. Or at least a few of us can.
Anyway, it looks like Pachelbel is going on the shelf. Of course, there's always next year.