Why did Yes want Larry Groupé? – Part 1 – 576

Produced by Joseph Cottrell, Ken Fuller, Wayne Hall and Jeffrey Crecelius

This week Mark and I continued to subtly subvert the format of our ‘Why Did Yes Want…?’ series by looking at Larry Groupé who provided orchestrations, arrangements and unique orchestral music for the 2001 album, Magnification. We learned some interesting things about the Professor and prolific film and TV composer which will make our forthcoming conversation with him even more fascinating. As is so often the case, Larry is a big Yes fan which makes his choice a good one. Mark and I are both huge supporters of Magnification and we are looking forward to speaking to Larry, hopefully next week.

  • Who is Larry Groupé?
  • What skills did he have which might have attracted Yes?
  • What did he add to Magnification?

Larry’s website –

Larry Groupé

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  • Joseph Cottrell
  • Ken Fuller
  • Jeffrey Crecelius and
  • Wayne Hall


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Theme music

The music I use is the last movement of Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite. This has been used as introduction music at many Yes concerts. My theme music is not take from a live concert – I put it together from:

5 replies on “Why did Yes want Larry Groupé? – Part 1 – 576”

Some Indiana perspective from a guy who lived there 30 years. IUBloomington is one of the two flagship state schools. The one with fine arts focus. The other, Purdue University is engineering focused. Purdue is the astronaut cradle. I love Magnification especially In the presence of. Thanks for the show today

Thanks Jeffrey. Insider knowledge! Yes I think Magnification might be the most overlooked and underrated Yes album.

Hi, Kevin and Mark,

Re: your question about the quality of Indiana University (Jacobs School of Music), it is high. While annual polls flip-flop regularly (based on who-knows-what, and always disagreeing), IU consistently remains in the US top 5 overall for music ( currently in 3rd place). For anyone who may be interested in such things, a quick online check of the polls revealed the following: Worldwide, it is in the top 8. Specifically for music composition and for film music composition in the US, it’s in the top 8-15. IU also boasts the largest music school in the US, with over 1,500 students.

As a classical musician, I was quite skeptical about Magnification when learning about the collaboration with orchestra. The idea repelled me for some reason, although I had liked TAAW quite a lot. So I avoided Magnification for quite a while. I suppose I feared cheese, and worse… the loss of YES-ness. However, the final result was so surprisingly good that Magnification became a Top 10 for me. (Perfect album cover, too!)

On the documentary I was impressed with Larry Groupé’s comments. Looking forward to hearing his perspective all these years later in the upcoming podcast.

~M. Evans

Good to see some recognition for the IU Jacobs School of Music here. (My wife is originally from Indiana.)

Really looking forward to your interview with the exceptionally talented Larry Groupé. I’m not a general fan of music produced for the entertainment industry, and most of it doesn’t stand up to scrutiny when separated for the medium, show or film it is supporting – but it undoubtedly requires significant skill and craft. Listen to Larry’s lavish and epic ‘Excelsius’ ( for example. Very fine work. Not especially my scene musically, but hugely impressive.

What I also like about Larry’s work (which I started too listen to a little after the appearance of ‘Magnification’ and the fine tour) is that he throws plenty of fresh ideas and musical curve balls in – like the sequence of chromatic triads (a tritone leap from a C-sharp minor to a G minor, for instance) during a pastoral scene in the 2011 remake of ‘Straw Dogs’.

Likewise, with Yes, he avoided the most common pitfall of overly saccharine orchestration and added some really interesting bits of scoring and arrangement. Take the last two minutes of the superb (and massively underrated) “Dreamtime” on ‘Magnification’, for example. A delicious, ideas-packed orchestral coda (08:43 – 10:45 with strong echoes of Bernstein and Copland, and even a hint at Bartokian chromaticism. Do ask him about that!

The pick-up orchestras in the US were, as you say, a big challenge, and didn’t always work out over-well for the really attentive listener. Europe was much more successful, with its regular and youthful players having time to get well on top of the task. The music wasn’t that complicated, but the timing with the band really important. (In North America some of the people who got the orchestra gig for one night only had a very brief rehearsal, didn’t get given the scores until virtually the last minute, and were sight-reading and performing much of the material for the first time during the actual concert, such was the security around the sheet music, I’m reliably informed. That may have been after Larry left the tour, of course.)

A final aside. I read that Larry actually had some tuition from the late, great Japanese composer Tōru Takemitsu (definitely one of my musical heroes) at the University of California, for his Masters programme. Also the acoustic-electronic giant, Roger Reynolds. I’d love to hear about those two – though perhaps that’s not what most YMP listeners would be interested in.

I’ve never heard of Larry G nor even heard Magnification. However this was an interesting episode and I look forward to hearing him on the show

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