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1 minute reading time (280 words)

Introductions and endings

A really great meal is made even better with a tasty appetizer and dessert. A Christmas tree is just not complete without a shining star on top and a decorative skirt around the base. In the same way, a pop or jazz arrangement can go from OK to spectacular with a unique introduction and ending framing it.

Let me introduce you to "Molly Malone," aka "Cockles and Mussels"—a lively little Irish folk tune.

Example 1: “Molly Malone”

"Molly" uses a very common chord progression in the first 8 measures—the I-vi-ii-V7 "workhorse." This progression would serve us well as the underpinning for an introduction and ending. One could simply "vamp" on this progression in the left hand before launching into the tune, but having some secondary melodic interest will set things up nicely for the entrance of the primary theme. Example 2 incorporates an introduction using the first five notes of the G Major scale above two passes through the I-vi-ii-V7 progression. The ending returns to the melody used in the introduction, followed by an accented G13 chord (see Example 2). 

"Molly" uses a descending bass line in the second eight measures that would also be a catchy progression on which an introduction and ending could hang its hat. By quoting "Molly's" rising third motif as a secondary melodic idea, we further enhance the effect. Notice how these two ideas tie the arrangement together while adding harmonic interest and rhythmic bite (see Example 3). 

I hope these ideas will help you to find creative ways to frame your own adventures into pop and jazz arranging.

Example 2: Version 1 with introduction and ending.
Example 3: Version 2.

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Piano Magazine is the leading resource for pianists, piano teachers, and piano enthusiasts. We bring you informative, interesting, and inspiring ideas on all aspects of piano teaching, learning, and performing. The official name of Clavier Companion magazine was changed to Piano Magazine in 2019.

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