Gil’s arrangement of Gone, Gone, Gone from the Gershwin opera Porgy and Bess is a beautiful short mood piece that evokes the sadness and vocal quality of the original. This post will just look at a couple of examples of the orchestration in the ensemble parts of the piece.
Form and Rhythm
Gil has simplified the form slightly from the original. The arrangement basically alternates between Miles exclamations and the ensemble phrases. He has kept Gershwin’s introduction, but ends the piece before Gershwin’s transition to the next aria. The rhythms are essentially the same as the original.
- 4 reeds – Alto sax, 2 alto flutes (one doubling on piccolo just for the introduction) and bass clarinet.
- 3 French Horns
- 5 trumpets (including Miles)
- 4 Trombones
- 1 Tuba
- Bass and drums
Gone, Gone, Gone – first ensemble phrase
Two aspects of the orchestration lend a consistent and vocal breath-like quality to the ensemble passages:
- Each phrase maintains its orchestral vertical structure
- The two alto flutes on the melody are in their lower range which sounds breathy
The alto flutes double the melody with 1st french horn. Initially, the 2nd trombone also has the melody an octave lower, but this transfers to the 3rd trombone as the harmony becomes too low. As outlined in this post, the horns nicely hold the ensemble together by blending the flutes with the trombones. The bass line is also doubled with the 4th trombone, tuba and bass clarinet. As described in the first orchestration post, Gil often doubles the melody and bass in unison and octaves.
Observe the consistency of orchestration in the whole phrase.
Gone, Gone, Gone – bars 19 & 20
In this passage, Gil introduces the muted trumpets and alto sax to increase the intensity.
Again the two alto flutes have the melody, but this time it is shared with a muted trumpet. The french horns are shifted down a 3rd which still places them nicely in the middle of the voicing, but it means one of them only doubles the melody and octave below. The trombones and bass line players are effectively the same as the first phrase. The alto sax is placed on the melody but down an octave. Gil often does this with the saxophone when he wants it to support the melody and blend into the ensemble without it sounding too woody or reedy.
Notice how low the tuba and bass clarinet play in this passage. It adds a pleasing weight which counterbalances the added forces that have been added for this phrase.