Author, freelance editor & book coach

The Big Band meets Old Mac Donald

I just got home from band practice tonight, and realized that I’m not done talking about Old MacDonald! We played it tonight, and ya know, I don’t really play it very well. Why? Because all the time the band was rehearsing and working out all the bugs and getting everything nice and tight, I was in the back dancing! lol! So now I have to practice and learn my musical part! And the bari sax has a great part way down on the bottom end of the sax line.

Old MacDonald is a very clever piece of music. Not just the vocals (which are marvelously clever), but the entire chart. It’s a much more complicated piece of music than you would expect, given the title. It moves right along and poor Rebekah hardly has any place to take a breath for the entire 2½ minutes. The horns have great shots that have to be tight and crisp. It almost has a soft-shoe feeling about it. It’s the “Bolero” of swing…the entire piece builds and builds and builds, crescendoing right to the end. To top it off, the entire piece modulates up a half-step every 16 bars – that’s a key change for every verse. On your toes, fellas!

Old MacDonald was recorded at the very end of his years at Capital Records in 1960.

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