On 22nd May 2017 a suicide bomber struck an Ariana Grande concert in my home city of Manchester. 23 people were killed, more than half of them children. This despicable tragedy triggered an outpouring of emotion across Manchester and the world. Manchester is, and always has been, a city of music, and as thousands of Mancunians lifted their voices in song at candlelit vigils all across the city, music was proven again to be the first comfort to all those who are grieving. The wounds will be with us forever, but they started to heal when Manchester started to sing.
I chose to mark the passing of a year since the tragedy by covering "No Tears Left To Cry", Ariana Grande's first release since the attack.
I started my arrangement by transcribing the entire melody line of the song, with a simple accompaniment. I then began an improvisational process which lasted 2 days, allowing myself to play with the melodic ideas presented and to discover new and interesting ways for them to manifest across the whole range of the keyboard. I hoped to capture some of Ariana's powerful vocal "presence", but also her lilting tone - which brings to mind the peculiar aerobatics of the swallows which begin to appear at this time of year over the UK's fields and hedgerows.
In my arrangement and cover of Ariana's song I have inverted the themes of the original, using tortured chromatic harmonies to give a sense of an emotional "fabric" fraying at the edges. Wistful virtuosic passages communicate feelings of longing, turmoil and heartbreak, and a modulation to the major key in the final measures finishes the piece with a lasting sense of hope.
*License for sheet music
No Tears Left To Cry by Ariana Grande Arr. Gary Cheetham is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
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