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"It's Only A Paper Moon"

Title It's only a paper moon
ComposerH. Arlen (arr: F.G.J. Absil)
Instrum.Concert Band
Meter6/8 - 4/4
Tempo54 - 120 BPM


A musical score excerpt
  • Piccolo, Flute 1-2, Oboe 1-2, Bassoon 1-2, Eb Clarinet, Bb Clarinet 1-2-3, Bass Clarinet;
  • Alto Saxophone 1-2, Tenor Saxophone 1-2, Baritone Saxophone;
  • French Horn 1-2-3-4, Trumpet 1-2-3-4, Trombone 1-2-3-4, Baritone 1-2-3, Tuba;
  • Rock Guitar (rhythm), Keyboard, Bass Guitar, Drums;
  • Timpani, Percussion (2-3 players: bongos, cowbell, cymbals, tambourine, vibraslap), Mallets (vibraphone, xylophone).


Geologically speaking the moon is a piece of rock. The same holds for this contemporary musical arrangement the standard It's only a paper moon

Our paper moon shows a new face with rock style elements (disco-rock in 16ths) such as syncopated rhythms, brass accents and chords in fourths. These can already be heard in the introduction, a 6/8 fugato based on the main theme.

A good performance of this piece requires a capable rhythm section, with close interlocking of bass guitar and drums and significant support from keyboard (arpeggios) and rhythm guitar.

The first chorus starts in [B] and reveals the application of modern techniques to a traditional 32 measures song. A free middle section starts in [G], piling a number of musical layers and leading to a climax. The second chorus starts at [H], with another climax after a brief coda.

Using a modified quote from the lyrics we might describe this piece as: the sky is the limit if you believe in me.

Concert performance:

This arrangement got as far as La douce France and has been played on a number of occasions by L'Ensemble Instrumental de Saint André d'Apchon, from Roanne in the Loire region.