background to the song
Something Special started life as a song commissioned by the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment for a choir called Camden New Voices. This was before lockdown happened.
We soon realised we needed a song that was really accessible and able to bring joy to as many children in Camden as possible. This is when Raph set about writing the version of the song that exists today.
CNV and the OAE made a lockdown video of the song in the summer term of 2020.
In the autumn of 2020, a lot of schools also learnt the song and we made a Camden video.
But we’ve never performed the song live – until now!
things to think about when learning the song
The song is written cleverly in that although it splits into parts, all the parts are introduced in the main song itself, so it’s just a question of putting them together at the right time.
The song works well as a unison song – just stick to the “main voice” line when it splits.
Mostly the song is really easy to learn although some of the words in the verses will need some careful practice.
The pre-chorus will also need a bit of work – get your singers to do a lot of listening so they get the feel of this section.
The chorus is very singable, but make sure you get the rhythm right at b40-41
The only other bit that may catch you out is the very last bar. Be ready for it!
how the song will be performed
We will be singing in three parts, although a lot of the time we will be in unison.
One part will sing the “Main Voice”
One part will sing “Voice 2”
One part will sing “Voice 3”
You will already know all the material – you will just need to watch your conductor to see when to sing.
Always do the actions for the bit you’re singing, but remember in the final chorus there are no actions – except the air-punch at the very end.
Raph Clarkson is a trombonist, improviser, composer and workshop leader, based in Bristol.
He regularly leads community/learning & participation projects for Spitalfields Music, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (O.A.E.), Sinfonia Viva and Mid Wales Music Trust, all of whom have commissioned Raph to write music and songs for young musicians.
Raph loves working across multiple genres and styles of music, and this eclectic taste can be found in his own band ‘The Dissolute Society’, which is currently working towards a second album called This is How We Grow and features young voices on every track (including Camden New Voices!).
the song-writing process
The brief was to write a song about the joy of singing together – and so, I tried to think about two things: how it feels for me when I get to sing in a choir (both my emotions, and physically in my body), and also, my memories of singing with my friends when I was at primary school. The words ‘Something Special’ bubbled up into my mind – as this is exactly the effect of the power of music when we make it together – magical, incredible, special things and feelings happen!
This led me down the path of exploring the difference between being on our own/making music as individuals, compared to when we are together, working in collaboration as a community of musicians. The rest of the lyrics flowed from there!
When it came to creating the musical element, I wanted to capture the feelings of pure joy I felt when I was young and singing a song that just, well, felt AMAZING to sing! So I explored the jazzy, groovy chords, rhythms and sounds that gave (and still give) me those feelings, and tried to also combine it with a flowing, choral melody that hints towards the early music styles that the O.A.E. know how to perform so well. This is the result! I really hope you enjoy it.