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June 23, 2005

Wedding Music

We play for a lot of weddings and a lot of folks ask us what is good music for a wedding. This is a hard question to answer, since musical tastes are so personal. I've literally played for hundreds of weddings. I've been a church organist/keyboardist, I've played accordion in a Klezmer band (Washington DC's Lox and Vodka), I've been a strolling polka accordionist and now I have Mandragora Tango. I've decided to make a list of tunes that I realy like and Mandragora can play.

First of all, there are about a dozen tunes that are the "standard" wedding repetory. Of course you know "Here Comes the Bride" and Mendelssohn's "Wedding March". Pachelhebel's "Canon", Bach's "Air on the G String", Clark's "Trumpet Voluntary", Bach's "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring", Schubert's "Ave Maria", the Bach/Gounaud's "Ave Maria", Billy Idol's "White Wedding"... The list goes on and on. If a couple is making a big effort to personalize there wedding, why play such common tunes?

Anyway, a bride just asked us to play Heitor Villa-Lobos' "Bachianas Brasileras #5", which happens to be one of my favorite tunes, and one I've never played at a wedding. It got me to thinking about other tunes that would be great for weddings. All of these songs can be re-arranged for Mandragora or whatever subset of musicians you hire for the ceremony. I suppose that folks ould just play recordings at their weddings, but Live Music Sounds Best!!!

    Bridal Processions
  • The selection that started me thinking about making this list is Villa Lobos' Bachianas Brasileiras #5. What a great melody! It was originally written for 10 cellos and wordless soprano, but it can be played with many fewer people.
  • J. S. Bach's Wachet Auf (Sleeper's Awake). A "choral prelude" which mixes a traditional choral (Wachet Auf) with a new countermelody. This has the added benefit of being based on the Biblical story of the wise and foolish virgins waiting for the Bridegroom. (This recording is a bit slower than I would play it)
  • Ravel's Pavane por une Infante Defunt. If you can get past the title (Pavane for a Dead Princess), you will hear one of the most beautiful melodies of all time.
  • Faure's Pavane is another one of my favorites
  • I wrote If You Were a Stone for my wife's bridal march. (I don't remember what I wrote for my entrance. I was kinda out of it.)
  • Astor Piazzolla's Oblivion, Soledad or Milonga del Angel. Here are 3 heart-breakingly beautiful melodies by Piazzolla that we love to play. I've played Oblivion for church services. It may seem a bit dark, but it captures the mysteries of love and longing.
  • Puccini's O Mio Babbino Caro is an aria from Gianni Schicci where a daughter sings of her love for her father. A good song when Dad is paying for the band!!!
  • Satie's Gymnopidie #1. Satie wrote 3 extremely slow waltzes and called them Gymnopedies. They are getting kinda common at weddings now.
  • Bach's Brandenburg Concerto #2, 3rd Movement or Brandenburg Concerto #3, 1st Movement both have a joyous air about them.
  • No Jewish wedding is complete without Chosen Kalle Mazel Tov or "Blessings to the Bride and Groom". At the end of the ceremony, the a glass is placed in a handkercheif and placed on the grond for the groom to smash. Once the glass breaks, the band fires up this tune and the couple is married. I had my friends play this at my wedding, even though I'm not Jewish. Like the old Levy's Rye Bread Ads used to say, "You don't have to be Jewish to like it".
  • A Milonga is a quick, happy Tango dance. Many of these make good recessionals, such as Laurenz' Milonga de mis Amores I also really like a milonga by Carlos DiSarli called "Con Alma y Vida", but I can't find a recording.
  • By the same token, a of of Sambas, such as Samba de Orpheo would make great recessionals. (This version is heavy on the percussion and too slow, but you get to hear the theme).
  • Handel's Water Music is a bit overplayed, but I really like the Bouree and the Hornpipe as closers.

    Listen to all my selections in this handy player

    Click here to open player in a separate window.

Posted by bbarnes at June 23, 2005 11:50 AM



Posted by: GABRIEL ALFONSO HERNANDEZ at December 13, 2006 5:35 PM