This week, we are excited to host legendary rock band Three Dog Night. They will join the Houston Symphony at Jones Hall on Friday the 13th. We asked Larry Baird, orchestrator and conductor for Three Dog Night’s orchestral performances, to share his thoughts about working with a band whose influence has spanned four decades.
Thoughts on Working with Three Dog Night
By: Larry Baird
My involvement with Three Dog Night came about in 1998 when I was honored to be asked to write an orchestra show for them. I was excited to do so and thought that it would be a natural for them to perform with an orchestra. Their music has proven to be timeless because of their material and their amazing performance. Everyone knows the vocals are outstanding, but their musicianship is also of the highest quality. I felt from the very beginning that this couldn’t be anything more than a show filled with hit after hit after hit.
I dove into this project with great zeal and anticipation, and a desire to create an experience that would expand the size and presence of Three Dog Night from a six piece band into a large ensemble of 50-60 pieces or more. It was exhilarating and inspiring to work on creating that possibility.
Their well constructed songs offered so much variety that ideas for arranging and orchestrating them came with ease. They gave me the freedom to ‘have at it’ and see what comes. I always enjoy having input from the artists. Of course, I want them to be happy and satisfied with what I write. They were agreeable to my suggestion of writing an Overture for their show which I feel sets up the live performance of the band taking the stage. There is also a cameo opportunity for the orchestra on the song ‘One’ which has a somewhat delicate prelude before Cory begins to sing.
The music of Three Dog Night covers a wide range of genres, but ‘One’ is nestled in the R ‘n’ B tradition. This allows for the use of the orchestra’s ‘five piece horn section’, ala Memphis Horns, Tower of Power, Muscle Shoals, Motown Horns etc.,. These players in the orchestra have the opportunity and necessity to be able to play both sides of the track so to speak. Their parts call for a very ‘legit’ style of performance, and also the aforementioned rhythm and blues style – which to me, sounds like fun.
I think you’ll find that bringing together the musicians from what are generally two different musical avenues, creates a new and dynamically unique experience. Enjoy!
For more information on the Three Dog Night concert on July 13, CLICK HERE!
Preview the concert here: