Marc Papeghin is a 25-year-old horn player and internet session musician living in Northern France, about 20km from the Belgium border, in a town called Lille. He began playing the horn when he was 8, and later went to a Conservatoire in Northern France until his 20’s where at about the same time, he began arranging for horn ensembles.
His first John Williams Tribute, scored for 12 horns, has over 153,000 views on YouTube. Compared to other horn-related videos this is simply phenomenal, practically an Internet sensation within our conically-shaped universe.
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Could you please tell us what your equipment is – your horn, mouthpiece, video, audio and notation software?
A: I’ve been playing a Holton H179 for a good 10 years now, with a Schilke 30 mouthpiece. I record with a Behringer C-3 microphone via Cubase 5 and use Soundforge 10 to polish the final sound when needed.
For me, Sibelius 6 is just the best music notation software out there.
What is your compositional process? Where do you start with a piece like ‘When Dream and Horn Unite‘?
I should say first that my work method is particular, maybe unusual…the thing is I don’t write any notes down.
When starting a new piece, I usually already have in mind most of the themes I’d like to put in it, I just don’t have the whole structure precisely mapped out. So I’ll begin recording what I feel will be the opening theme.
(I can totally change this later.)
Usually I’ll lay down the bass part, then the melody, and then harmony, add everything else – experimenting a lot while doing it.
I work off of full-orchestral scores as well as piano transcriptions, sometimes by ear and memory. Also there were a few cases where I transcribed some orchestral scores myself.
Once the first theme is done I’ll begin to try and find the next one which will go right after. This is something I put a lot of attention to because I want everything to naturally “flow.”
The transition has to work musically and not feel forced or brutal. Once I’ve found the right theme I then record it, and so on and so forth for the next ones.
So in the case of When Dream and Horn Unite for example, the first thing I recorded was the opening theme – the “Overture” from Dream Theater’s Six Degrees album.
When I felt it was done, I then searched for another song in their catalogue which could fit. So I took into account the mood the piece was at, right at the end of the Overture, the key it was in, the tempo…and finally thought of a bit from the song “Wait For Sleep” that could perfectly fit and recorded it (always with an extra-care for the transition).
All the other segments were recorded that way – one by one.
So this of course means quite a lot of takes but it allows me to try everything I want and directly hear the final sound. It helps a lot, especially when I have to re-create rhythm/drum parts, and give the illusion of rhythm with actual notes. Directly hearing the final results really helps me to find the best way to arrange these particular parts.
Is it the the same for arranging music from music, movies and video games?
A: Whether I’m arranging from a film score, a video game soundtrack or a progressive metal band like When Dream and Horn Unite, I always proceed the same way.
I have certain themes I want to include in the medley, and then it’s like a giant puzzle I have to solve. I put all the themes in the best way possible so that it feels more like a whole original piece rather than something trivial.
But that said, a lot of themes I originally wanted to put in it won’t make it in the end. There are lots of left-overs, either because they don’t fit, or sometimes because they simply do not sound great.
Nope…you can’t arrange anything and everything for a french horn ensemble 🙂
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…to be continued, later today – Part II, More on arranging for horn ensemble and on being an Internet session musician.