FAQ’s

Is this real?

Of course it’s real. What kind of lunatic fakes this sort of thing? It’s Christmas! What’s wrong with you?

Who creates the musical arrangements?

Matt Bowen. You can email me here.

Does it take you a long time to put it together?

Ummmm, yes. There are a ton of the details in our Behind the Scenes video by Ric Serena.  I write the arrangement once we get a head-count (which is a bit backwards), assign parts, tune bottles, set up mics/audio-gear, and then print 5′ x 3′ music and hang that on the wall…all before the band arrives.

How long do you practice?

Everyone was handed their part at the beginning of the party. Luckily, we have some ridiculously talented musicians (see our band page), and are able to sort everything out in an hour or so!

Hey Matt, will you and your band play for my cousn’s b-day party?

Absolutely not. But thanks for asking!

But what if I pay you!

Sorry, we don’t play for money. We only play for fun.

Fine, if you won’t play for my cousin’s b-day party, then I’ll make my own bottle band!

Great! I’ll send you sheet music for our most popular song if you to our favorite charity, Education Through Music Los Angeles which supports music education for inner city kids. Just send me that receipt!

How did this come about?

Ever heard of the “Jaws” theme? It’s what we (Matt and Summer) would play on beer bottles while out with friends. Years later while on a road trip Summer asked me to create music for an entire Christmas Carol all on beer bottles. I arranged it, we rustled up some friends, took a video, and that’s history.

59 responses to “FAQ’s

  1. Susan

    I saw someone take a sip near the end. Was he finished with that bottle or tuning?

    Awesome, btw.

  2. scott

    Loved it!!!! Beer snobs with an ambition to do something great. Let me know when you guys make T-shirts. On a separate note, why no Dundee Honey Brown Lager?

  3. Tracy

    Do you have an MP3 of the song? Can I have one, Please?

  4. Benjie Jimenez

    I am so amazed with what you did and appreceate it very much so perfect and so clean.I wish you could come up for more and share it to the whole world specially to the beer drinkers. Raise those bottles up!!!

  5. Brittney

    Excellent work! You are obviously a very talented group. This carol is destined to become a classic. Cheers!!

  6. bootz

    I went to berklee and at parties we would do smaller impromptu versions of jazz tunes. Which one of you did the arrangment? You really sounded great and well intonated to boot. Tuning was always a pain in the ass. We would give up and deal with a little dissonance. It helps CONSIDERABLY when everyone has a good sense of rhythm and pitch. Has everyone had formal musical training of some sort?
    Roll with it. I see a performance tour. The stage is set with couches, people walk onto the stage as the “party” starts. After a while you break into beer bottle and other bottle songs.

    thank you for the smile

    peace from within to all of you

    Bootz

    p.s. if you ever get a performance together come to milwaukee:)

    • Why thank you! Matt Bowen was in charge of all things arrangement/sheet-music/beer-tuning…he’s also conducting while the video is going on, so you won’t see him in the vid (and is one of the reasons the timing is so good).

      And yes, tuning was surprisingly difficult. The notes in the higher register in particular would change a shocking amount with just the slightest bit of liquid adding/subtracting. It still got a little “pitchy,” but we were pretty happy with how little pitchyness there was overall.

      As for training…we had a ridiculously talented group of friends/composers/session-musicians, which helped things move along pretty fast.

      We’ll clear our calendars in January for our TV circuit ;)

  7. Pingback: “Do You Hear What I Hear?” Beer Bottles | Discojon

  8. Gary

    Your folks ROCK!!! I have played the beer bottle for years and never thought that someone would take the time to bring the instument to the world. Wish I could have Jammed with ya all. Keep on Playin

  9. kmmnado

    This is slowly making its way around my world. Congratulations on the YouTube feature! A mellow toot indeed!

  10. Wow this is so funny! what do u mean “tune” the beer bottles?

    • I mean I get the perfect amount of liquid in them so they make the desired note. For example, let’s say I want a B flat but the bottle makes the tone of a C natural because of how much liquid is in there (and I know this by blowing into my Boss tuner). I remove just enough liquid so the tone goes down to a B flat. If it were below the B flat, I would have to add liquid. Like I said…painstaking!

  11. Tom

    I was in a handbell choir just after college – and the principle’s the same – give everyone two bells – sometimes four (they only ring when swung in one direction, so if you’ve got two in your hand, up and down = one note, side to side = another one.)

    Way cool guys… way cool…

    Heh… would be fun to see you get together with a handbell choir for a “duet” (or a duel) :)

  12. Very clever and refreshing. Thanks for sharing this.

  13. Sarah

    Loved this! Forwarded it to several people.

    Do you recommend a particular kind of beer or ale for getting just the right tone? :)

    • Haha…no, we don’t discriminate! Seriously, we didn’t find anything in particular that sounded the best. We did, of course, need the larger bottles (i.e. the 750 ml Chimay) for the bass notes though. Also, we tried out those Mississippi Mud beers…and although they’re delicious, the widemouth made them too hard to play (so you won’t find any of those in the vid).

  14. Deborah Burstyn

    What do the knit hats of the first two people on the left say? In the video it kind of looks like Hebrew. But it’s not, right?

  15. Scott M. Brown

    Such Harmoney, such grace, such talent. My question is this. How does everyone know each other. My first thought was a college fraternity. it’s amazing what you all have put together!

    • Thanks Scott! We all just know each other as musicians. I (Matt Bowen) am a composer and live in LA, so a lot of my friends are also quite musically inclined. Actually, a majority of the band is made up of professional composers/musicians/producers. Pretty handy when you want to throw together something like this!

      Glad you liked it!!

  16. I enjoyed this so much I sent it to my family. If you want, e-mail me directly and for your efforts (for lack of a better term) my company will send you a game or two for your next gathering, just for fun. Happy holidays and thanks for the smile.

    Keith

  17. Any plans to release more songs???

    • Definitely!…but unfortunately not right now. This whole thing was definitely “for fun,” so we only did the one song, and weren’t prepared to put a follow-up together. But with such a positive response (300,000 youtube hits?!?!?!), we’ll definitely be regrouping in the new year! We’ll let all of our website/blog subscribers know when to expect the next one.

  18. Sally Utter

    Stumbled upon this today, fantastic. Where is the choir from? How did you find each other for this performance?
    What is the musical background of the performers?

    • We all live in Los Angeles, and a majority of us are working professionals in the music world (composers, session players, producers, etc.)…so through that, everyone more or less knew each other. Everyone at least knew the Bowens, who organized the event.

      As for background…Matt Bowen is a professional composer, and he’s the one that dealt with the arrangement, sheet music, assigning parts, etc. Everyone else could at the very least read sheet music…but a majority of them are very talented professional musicians as well. There are links (when applicable) to all of their personal websites on the band page if you’d like to find out more!

  19. Kevan Gibbs

    Wow, i wish i could do that. That was truly awesome. Also, 300,000 Youtube views in less than a week. You guys should make more. For sure, the things you do are on its way to being a BIG deal in the future!

  20. Andie Lanai- Lagazo

    You guys ARE AWESOME! I had to post it on facebook and share the holiday cheer! So much talent, glad to see people having FUN with their talents! Merry Christmas to the whole gang, you guys ROCKED!!!

  21. Pingback: Video: ‘Do You Hear What I Hear?’ Performed on Beer Bottles | U Reader | Your daily news stop station ...

  22. Pingback: Planner Reads » Blog Archive » Do You Hear What I Hear? by the Bowen Beer Bottle Band

  23. sharon

    Found your link on Neatorama. This is fantastic! Waiting for the release of your “Christmas CD”.
    Woo-Hoo!

  24. Talented group, indeed! I’ve noticed over the years, when playing various bottles, that embouchure also plays its part in pitch reproduction, since I’ve been able to tune slightly up or down depending on how I form my embouchure. So it’s not just the amount of water making the pitches so close to well-tuned but the players’ ears informing their embouchure formation as well. Nicely done. Absolute “perfection” would not have been as attractive or appealing as this was. :-)

    • Jo

      we r well aware of the embouchure and reacting to each note – or by tilting the bottle (or instrument) up or down to make the pitch sharper or flatter- flute 101- thanks for the interest, and comments.

  25. Andy

    Thanks for the video, very festive. I was hoping to put something similar together with the family this Christmas Evening. My mother-in-law plays in the church bell choir and I thought I might be able to get my hands on their sheet music. Either that or tweak some traditional piano music. We were thinking Silent Night, mainly for the harmony, rhythm and simple melody (my family members are definitely not session musicians!). Any chance you’d be willing to post the sheet musics for each of the different bottle tones? Thanks again, superb job!

  26. Andy Nichols

    Great performance! Must have taken control not to sip instead of blow, so I wouldn’t be any use to the band…

  27. Kathy

    Just saw you on CNN – great exposure! Looks like a lot of fun with friends – one of the best things about Christmas!

  28. Kimerly

    Made my Christmas Day! Great sound and spirit. Congratulations! Looking forward to more tunes from the Bowen Beer Bottle Band.

  29. Pingback: A Happy Christmas to All « RogerEvansOnline.com

  30. david fowler

    Stunning…..abslolutely awe inspiring.

  31. This SO reminds me of stuff we’d do here – bunch of music major choir geeks with craziness and music on the brain all the time. :)

    AND this reminds me of a handbell choir. everyone responsible for at least two notes.. one handbell per note.. the most talented get three or more. And then, it’s all about playing the right note at the right time – more difficult if you have running 8th notes… but tons of fun, too!

    Well done! and thanks for the inspiration for more musical craziness. :)

    Billie Preston
    Wichita, KS

  32. Jacaroo

    Wow….applause all around! I really admire people with such talent! I have to admit I didn’t think it was real…but so glad I read more about it and found out it was real! Very impressive. Happy and Healthy New Year!

  33. MICHELLE

    Hey Kit!

    Hit me up with the name/maker of rice beer! I’ve heard it exists, but haven’t found any as yet. I too am on a gluten-free diet, due to food allergies.

    THANKS and PLEASE get together again and put out more tunes!

  34. David Bowen

    Wow, What a performance. You guys need to be on the tonite show. Us ARKIES’ never seen nothin’ like this!!! HA HA.

  35. Clifford

    Maybe try “Carol of the Bottles” next year!

    Kudos to the whole group!

    Something else that folks need to know… That pitch changes slightly with how you blow across the bottlemouth, so, there must have been quite a few folks in the group that have good “ears” to stay on pitch.

  36. Awesome work!!!
    BTW, you can get more accurate tuning using mineral oil instead of beer. Check out http://www.petersontuners.com/index.cfm?category=124
    Get some handbell choir Christmas music – that would work great for beer bottles! (and save a lot of time arranging).

  37. IndyNas

    “Freebirddddd!”

  38. Craig C. Springer

    Simply amazing! I sense a DVD in your future.

  39. Jay

    Greetings from China…just watched this after a recommendation from a friend and I think you guys are awesome! Your t-shirt will be walking around the Forbidden City soon.

  40. Gary Z

    AWESOME! THANX FOR MY LAST LAUGH OF CHRISTMAS DAY, it was DEFINATELY the BEST (and there were MANY!) LOL
    I look forward to more, maybe of course stars and stripes for July 4th?
    NICE work, from arrangement to production!

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