Why Arrangers make lousy copyists...and vice versa....

Hmmm...this is a topic I've talked about almost my entire career as a music copyist/arranger...which is almost always goes unchecked...This is a simple thing to do...copying music from music scores...it's not that hard???...or is it???...it's not as easy as some think...it takes a really good copyist to find out what the hell the arrangers point of view is and make the song (written wise...i mean) the way the arranger wrote it...and also to be as flawless as possible...I've copied some music scores in my time off of the best arrangers in the business...and I've learn way more copying and learning the chord voices and lifting sounds than I ever did in school...but one thing bothers me...and I think I need to address it....

To my knowledge...there's never been a college music course in "Transcribtion or Copying Music"...arrangements yes...but not copying...and I know alot of arrangers that could use that course...well...me being the only person in Vegas...(at the moment that I know of...) that's a near expert on both arranging and music copying....I think I can maybe teach what I know to those who need it...and I know alot of people that need it...I know some people who have the Finale and Silebus programs and don't really invest the time to learn the programs properly...and I'm willing to put this to a test...I write with the "sight reader" in mind...(lord know...the business is bad enough with trying to get a gig...don't need to screw it up if you can't read the chart 'cuz some idiot can't tell the difference with a Ab and a Bb...)...and if anyone wants to sample my work...just hit me up here...and I'll send it to you...you be the judge...

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Comment by Juan "Tiny"Colon on January 24, 2008 at 9:02pm

I think my piont was taken...but I have to add something here as well...I don't think arrangers (and I'm one too) sometimes outline their piont of view correctly...but if they had someone who sees what they're thinking about at the time and add to it...not take it away...then the job's done with no issues to the piece and the arranger's happy, the copyist's happy, and bandleader's happy, the world's happy...damn...alot of people happy...hmmm..not good...LOL...anyway
Thanks for taking an interest in this topic...
Comment by Kelvyn Bell on January 24, 2008 at 1:42pm

It sounds to me like you are providing a great service for arrangers that don't have time to copy or don't know a great deal about arranging. I only work for my self when it comes to copying so I don't run into the problems you are experiencing. I don't think I could not work as a copyist for hire as you do because the headaches I create for myself are enough for one life.
I also agree with you, skip the repeat signs and coda and write it all out no matter how much paper. Plus, when you give a musician a song with five pages of music, they tend to focus more on reading and it eliminates a lot of questions and comments. By the time they absorb it all to try to challenge me, we have finished rehearsing it.

peace out
Comment by Juan "Tiny"Colon on January 24, 2008 at 5:29am
Well,Kelvyn...let me be the first to say "thank you" for showing some interest in getting this and getting the "arranger and copy" job...and here's your answer to why an arranger is a lousy copyist...
If you noticed in your time...some guys who write almost always leave out alot of notes or get the voicing in charts wrong or are not sure about the voicing piont of view to what the arrangement calls for...and so on,and so on...this creates an unnessarary headache to some...especially horn players...who you are right...are near impossible to please...now...who's fault do you think it is for that?...me?...I blame the arranger...'cuz of his lack of knowledge when it comes to music copying...
Omar A. Castanos himself (my teacher for music copying and who's here in this network by the way) once stated to me that the copyist job is the final stage to what makes the arranger look great or look bad...top arrangers almost sometimes don't have enough time to copying their own charts out 'cuz of their workload and almost always don't double or triple check their work 'cuz of the same reason...this drives me crazy when someone brings a chart to a rehearsal...the last thing I want to see if I have great readers there and waste rehearsal time on trying to figure out what the hell the chart is saying becuase maybe noone can understand the writing or make heads or tails on what the hell the arranger's point of view is in the piece...now being a band leader myself...that becomes a money issue on rehearsal time...and a luxury that can't be afforded...another thing...
Some "music copyists and arrangers" don't write with the musicians in mind...either they crunch up a part by trying to condense everything on one page (to save on paper)...or put a whole bunch of repeat signs and Coda signs on the piece to maybe confuse to player into thinking maybe they're not so good...this is wrong on so many levels...I don't believe in complicating the life of anybody and I truly believe in the KISS method in life and music (KISS=keep it simple,stupid!!!)...and I... from what I understand is the reason for this... is that its for us to be challenged by the arranger 'cuz we need to be challenged musically...but I believe if it's a killer arrangement...then let the chart musically challenge you and not the bad copy job...now...me...I've never had any complains about musicians having it difficult to read what I wrote or did...never had a reason to stop the rehearsal time to figure out what I did in the chart voicing wise...and always making the original arranger of the piece look great...sometimes even better than he/she normally is...now that's what makes a good copyist...the arrangers job and life simpler...
Comment by Kelvyn Bell on January 24, 2008 at 2:58am

You have touched on something close to my heart. I am a guitarist, composer, arranger and just recently received a commission to write an 8 movement 60 minute composition for 12 strings, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, 4 saxophones, 5 piece rhythm and 8 voices. In the past I have written for strings with big band, and voices with rhythm. This will be the first time I combine all of the above. I use Logic Pro as a score and part writer. I have a budget for a copyist and my friends are suggesting I hire a good copyist. I am convinced I can do this myself.
I have been a musician for 40 years, traveled and performed all over the world playing avant-garde, jazz, rock, funk, m-BASE, R & B, blues and bunch of other stuff I forgot about. I've been composing and arranging for over 25 years. I work on the philosophy of just play what I wrote and don't ask me no damn questions. I find horn players the most difficult to please. Breathing is a delicate thing. Since you play brass, I'd like to pick your brain a bit. I have worked with a lot of players who have created new expression makings and not every one understands them the same way.
What specifically makes an arranger a lousy copyist? I would like to know/grow.











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