The arrangers dilemma: how to find work in the new world of self produced MIDI projects.

This isn't intended to be a b******* or grumbling session, but a realistic discussion of the functions of the arrangers in todays music market.

I was fortunate to begin my career in the 60s where live musicians were the norm ,and arrangers were therefore necessary in most projects.

In the early 70s, withe arrival of the Moog, the Arp 2600, and the Mellotron ( Chamberlain ) the rise of electronics began and developed in sophistication logarhythmaclly .The immediate impact of this was the precipitous drop in employment for live players -and also the "need " for arrangers. In fact, the cheesy sounds emanating from these early instruments actually became part of the musical styles of the era.

This all culminated in the quite sophisticated "home project " studios which enabled musicians
to created professional level master recordings.

Here's where the rub comes in :

Many Great song writers while being quite facile at composing music and /or lyrics , were not experienced in knowing how to construct the proper arrangement for their material .This was not a necessary part of their skill set , and often resulted in clotted, overlayered masses of sound with no sense of the arrangement building to a climax ,the use of thick and thin background textures and other basics of effective vocal arranging.

( In all fairness, there were guys like Johnny Mandel, Hank Mancini, and Michel LeGrand who could perform all these functions masterfully, but they were the exceptions )

My feeling is that even in these days of the project studio, a good songwriter should hire an arranger to present his song in thhe best light.
( electronically or live -we arrangers also know how to use the tools available to us all these days
and to better effect from a presentation standpoint )

comments ??

Phil Kelly
NW Prevailing Winds
SW Santa Ana Winds
Origin Records

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have sent a bug note to jaijai lady!
Aloha Phil,
I've always had a creative bug inside my head that MIDI gave birth to. Yes, I had a pregnant head. Full of musical organic matter waiting to escape. Luckily, this desire was fueled by my heart and soul, because without it, one is just creating organized noise. So Arrangers, after we've dabbled with quantize and all of the midi synch devices, and idiosyncracies of electronic devices -- there's lot of room for arrangers to add reality to songs that are consumed by MIDI. Personally, when I become too consumed with the technical side of music, I think it takes away from my creative side. So, new arranger are -- midi, protools, cubase, reasons, logic and sony producer experts. Mahalo! TerryB

When you state:

"" So, new arranger are -- midi, protools, cubase, reasons, logic and sony producer experts.""

It still seems you're still referring to the new TOOLS and not the arranging processes themselves. Arranging music effectively goes well beyond mixing ,shifting and deleting material ( that's EDITING ) Arranging is more concerned with creating textures and enhancing the dramatic arc of a piece of music IMO.

Oh Yeh ..arranging goes way beyond "layering loops". At best , it means you create your own loops from scratch ( if the music style requires such an approach )

Phil K
You are right Phil... But as a songwriter, I've always thought that was my job to impassion the emotion of the song. I must admit sometimes I create disorganized noise and need help... Everything I create, I hear it and feel it first. Then play, arrange, tweak, mix and master. By the way, your work is awesome! TerryB

Thanks very much for the props! :)

you're right... it IS when all is said and done the song that matters, and if you are able to create effective presentations of your material , that is really all you need.

My friend Marissa Dodge ( Who wrote the lyrics to "My Museum" on my CD is also a very talented songwriter as well, and she makes excellent demos on her home setup much as you do.



















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