I get questions all the time about ceremony music-what instruments should I pick, how many do I need, what goes together? Although I’m a HUGE music fan, and know what I like, I can’t speak very intelligently on what instruments work together, and why. So, I turned to the experts (and while I was at it, I also got the need-to-know on second lines).
This is the first blogpost in my new wedding planning series: New Orleans Vendor Spotlight. Featured today is John Hozey of D Play, a full service wedding band in New Orleans. I’ve heard these guys rock a reception, but what you may not know is that they also offer ceremony music and second lines. You can view their website here.
Ceremony Music Breakdown
To start off, I asked John his favorite ceremony combo. His response: “An upright bass, piano, and acoustic guitar.” However, he admits that music is subjective, so his choice is based strictly on what he likes to hear. He often asks couples whether they want a more “traditional” (i.e. Canon in D, Ode to Joy, etc.), or “contemporary” sound. Traditional songs work great with a string quartet or trio, typically including a violin, cello, or upright bass, viola, or a classical guitar. Contemporary song choices lend themselves more towards piano and guitar, sounding great and easily playing songs that weren’t written hundreds of years ago. An acoustic guitar and/or piano matches well with just about any instrument, including a violin and/or cello.
I also asked John if any one instrument works nicely alone. “Acoustic guitar, harp, or piano go well by themselves.” He explained that when looking for a solo instrument, you want an instrument that typically plays chords along with the melody, to make sure the sound is full.
Lastly, I asked him if anything doesn’t work. “Any time you get great musicians, they can make it sound good. Even If you wanted a tribal ceremony and hire just a hand drum! We’ve done that before. Polynesian style!”
New Orleans Second Lines
I started with the basics, asking John what makes up the foundation of your traditional New Orleans second line. “It’s so loose but really, you need a sousaphone (tuba), bass drum, snare drum, and trumpet. You can replace the trumpet really with a sax or trombone, but that is the most prevalent in New Orleans second lines.” As far as add-ons? Go with another trumpet, trombone or sax.
Is it possible to get a traditional sound with only a four-piece? John prefers more than a four piece- D Play offers a six-piece for their second line. “The sound I hear from second lines from a melodic perspective is how the horns work together. They tend to play both with and around each other. So unique. This can’t happen with one lead horn.”
Of course, if you want to go all out, add on your dancing man or Indian. “The possibilities are endless. It depends on how involved you want it. Some people want the real deal and a straight up party in the streets!”
Thanks to D Play for helping out with these questions! Stay tuned for more from my New Orleans Vendor Spotlight series!