Steve Flack Original Guitar Arrangement – “True Colors”

My Arrangement of “True Colours”

I’m really happy to share my arrangement of “True Colors”.

I was aware of Cyndi Lauper’s recording, it got a lot of air play when in first came out, but I didn’t pay a lot of attention to her version although I recognised that it was a quality Pop song.

All that pink hair and punky image made me a little suspicious!

Later I heard that Miles Davis had released a new album “You’re Under Arrest” which featured instrumental versions of two massive hits ( check out my Human Nature blog) “Human Nature” the Michael Jackson hit and Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time” and I’ve made arrangements of both of theses songs for solo guitar.

Miles Davis’s career is fascinating.

It’s said that he’d personally been involved in changing the direction of music five times, that’s huge!

I’ve read several biographies and collected most of his recordings but “You’re Under Arrest” was something really very different, although all of his albums were unique in their own way.

Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time” as played by Miles was really quite something, a real gem.

Anyone interested in Miles Davis can gain a great insight into his career and life by watching the movie documentary “Birth Of The Cool” which is a very entertaining and informative depiction of his life, Miles certainly was one of the 20 Century’s most influential musicians.

Tuck & Patti – Time After Time

I then heard Tuck and Patti do “Time After Time” which was very impressive.

It was a masterpiece in miniature- just Tuck on guitar and only Patti singing yet such a big musical statement.

Tuck and his wife Patti are a great duo.

Tuck’s a one man band and is the perfect accompanist for Patti’s voice.

While his accompaniment is incredibly interesting his solo guitar arrangements of tunes like “The Man In The Mirror” (the Michael Jackson hit) or Stevie Wonder’s “I Wish” are astonishing…just jaw dropping.

Tuck & Patti

I got to interview Tuck which was a great experience and he played both of those tunes for me so I got to watch him play them up close.

After hearing these two great versions of “Time After Time”, I wanted to learn the song and make my own arrangement which I did.

I bought a book with a collection of Cyndi Lauper’s songs so I could work on “Time After Time” when I noticed that “True Colors” was also in the book so I decided to try my hand at arranging it also.

After hearing Leo Kotke when I was a teenager I was intrigued by solo guitar.

How could one guitar player create such great music?

Leo Kottke was a force and I also got to interview him which was great!

Leo Kottke

I remember hearing “When Shrimps Learn To Whistle” from the “Dreams & All That Stuff” album which inspired me to collect all of his albums and there were some great ones like “Burnt Lips” but I remember hearing his “6 & 12 String Guitar” album for the first time and being blown away, just one guy with one guitar making all that music.

Although Leo Kottke was playing solo guitar music and mostly his own compositions, what he was playing was significantly relative to contemporary Pop and Rock music – I found that very attractive.

He wouldn’t have been out of place on the same bill with Led Zeppelin – in fact he would have complimented their acoustic set.

Leo Kottke

I wanted to play like Kottke but I wasn’t interested in writing my own my music, rather I wanted to make arrangements of songs that I found interesting and appealing.

Because I always had an interest in improvising, once I’d made an arrangement of a song I’d then find a spot in the song where I could improvise or come up with some riffs that would emulate an improvised solo. In Classical Music we’d call this a Cadenza.

In some of my arrangements I do improvise my “cadenza” but in “True Colors” I composed the solo/cadenza and I feel that it works so I play the same riffs each time I play “True Colors”.

Composing the “Cadenza” in True Colours

So what is a cadenza? Where did the term originate?

It’s related to the musical term “cadence” coming from the Latin verb “to fall” and the idea is that you come to the end of a section or the piece of music and you fall to the end.

The cadenza started out as a flurry of notes sung by a virtuoso singer at the last cadence, so right at the end of the song or “aria” (which is what we call a song in an Opera).

It’s mostly a concerto that gives and opportunity for a cadenza

Steve Flack

The vocal cadenza started life with one simple rule- it should last for one breath, but soon singers ignored that and the cadenza became longer.

If you want to see the level of virtuosity that singers achieved in the 1700’s just have a listen to Mozart’s “Queen Of The Night” aria.

It wasn’t long before instrumentalists started playing cadenzas.

They were originally improvised but then composers would sometimes write them out or even the virtuoso soloist would compose a cadenza that they’d play each time they would perform the concerto.

It’s mostly a concerto that would give an opportunity for a cadenza.

Understanding The “Concerto”

A concerto is basically a symphony with a featured solo instrument with orchestra backing.

Like a symphony, the typical format for a concerto would be 3 movements or sections and they would be fast, slow, fast and the whole composition would run between 30 to 40 minutes.

Liszt wrote a great cadenza for Beethoven’s 3rd Piano Concerto.

Fritz Kreisler the great violin virtuoso also came up with great cadenzas for Beethoven’s Violin Concerto.

The gold standard for Jazz cadenzas must be John Coltrane’s master class on “I Want To Talk About You” from his “Live At Birdland” album. The band stops playing and Colttane let’s it rip, you must hear it!

When I made my arrangement of “True Colors” I wanted to embellish it with a cadenza that would create a contrast to the spirit of the song.

True Colors is a soft, melodic, gentle ballad with very optimistic and uplifting words (there must be a name or genre for songs with optimistic and uplifting words) so I wanted my cadenza to sound kind of angry but full of purpose.

I think “True Colors” is a great Pop song and I really enjoy playing it.

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