Pop Symphony

Jan & Dean’s Pop Symphony No. 1 (In 12 Hit Movements)

The Bel-Aire Pops Orchestra
Arranged and Conducted by Jan Berry and George Tipton

Pop Symphony

Jan Berry describes the project . . . 

This album fulfills a dream and also answers a question that has been on my mind for the six years that Dean and I have been recording. The question: Is it possible to take contemporary popular music and state it and develop it symphonically? The dream: To be able to do it. I guess that’s one of the things that inspired me to attend Music Theory classes at U.C.L.A.

I hope that the critics of today’s music will find, after listening to this album, that “they are writing songs like they used to.” (But, as time changes, so do the tastes of the single-record buying public, and a writer, producer, or artist must satisfy these tastes to be a success).

I hope we have shown that you can take these same songs and dress them up to please the tastes of everyone.

Although the major components of a symphony orchestra were used for this album, we also added some that are not usually present, in order to retain the same rhythm “feel” as on our original records. We used such instruments as bass guitar (as played by Bill Pitman), rhythm guitar (Tommy Tedesco), and a full set of drums played by “Mr. Drums” himself, Hal Blaine, who has played on all our records as well as on almost every hit to come out of the West Coast.

We tried to interpret each song as we visualized it. For example: “The Little Old Lady from Pasadena” as a Viennese Waltz; “Drag City” as a Pied Piper’s March; and the Wagnerian “Dead Man’s Curve.” For those who remember the recitation on “Dead Man’s Curve,” we tried to simulate suspense — a clarinet and bass clarinet playing atonal notes against a tonal background. On “Surf City,” Dean’s falsetto part is played by the flutes, and in “Drag City” his falsetto is imitated by violins playing harmonics.

I’ve never been much of a crusader, but I do hope this album may help to educate the ears of the skeptics who refuse to recognize the quality of today’s contemporary music. Also, it seems to me that young people of today embarking on a musical career may find it hard to concentrate on their studies because they are bored with the available literature. I would like to make orchestrations available to high schools and orchestras so that the music student will have the prerogative of learning and playing music which is more familiar to him. In this way I hope to make his studies more interesting. I also plan to perform live concerts of our Pop Symphony for young people.

In this album we used the most talented musicians available. I have space to thank but a few: Emil Richards, percussion; Hal Blaine, drums; Bill Pitman, bass guitar; Tommy Tedesco, rhythm guitar; Gene Cipriano, woodwinds; James Getzoff and Sid Sharp, violins; Tony Terran and Cappy Lewis, trumpets; Bill Hinshaw and Vince De Rosa, French horns; as well as our engineer “Bones” Howe. And, I’d like to give special thanks to George Tipton, a fine creative arranger-conductor, who can not only put notes on paper but put a “feel” into those notes.

To all those who helped, thanks for answering a question and making a dream come true.

Jan Berry
Original  LP Liner Notes
Liberty Records LRP-3414 / LST 7414
May 1965

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