May 23, 2024
Why I Arrange Hymns
May 7, 2021   0 Comments
A DISCUSSION WITH MY FRIEND ED (who has arranged/produced many Hymn recordings over 30 years as a part of a major Christian record label) AND MYSELF...
Yes, the denominational differences always present a problem....geez folk, let it go already!!! The wars go on and on ....Anyway...
Having been raised Catholic I was, when younger, more familiar with Chant and Palestrina than Hymns. I started getting familiar with Hymns when I was at The Crystal Cathedral (arranger-orchestrator) starting age 24.
I had a good friend at that time who was a well-known Hymnologist (or whatever it is). Unfortunately he passed away too young. He would take me to all kinds of Hymn conferences.
In the 90s I started finding a love of Hymns and did many arrangements thereof. They turned into some albums of mine and commissions from other artists for their albums. What really turned me around was Fernando Ortega's Hymn projects - more "folklike"...We both know that the problem most folk have...
Quick Blog (StaffPad)
January 13, 2021   0 Comments
Just wanted you all to know that I have been working with StaffPad quite a lot. I purchased the Berlin Strings but found them a bit buggy reading the notation (articulations, dynamics, etc.). I know StaffPad tech is on it. Frankly StaffPad is the best tech service I have ever had (thank you Steve, David and others). Here is an audio excerpt from a piece I am doing for piano & "core" strings: CLICK HERE
Rhythm Section Recording Session
December 4, 2020   0 Comments
Monday we had a rhythm section session in Nashville. Due to the postponement of the orchestra & choir sessions we did the rhythm session remotely.  
We had Jason Webb: piano/keyboards, Dave Cleveland: guitars, Gary Lunn: bass & Scott Williamson: drums.These guys are amazing and it is always a great pleasure working with them.  
Randy Poole engineered with Israel McFarland as his 2nd engineer and of course they too are amazing and a pleasure to work with.
We tracked at  The Poole Room .
Kent Hooper did the rough mixes and all worked great.
We used Audio Movers & Zoom for the session. I still though will always prefer "being there" and will be there (conducting) for the upcoming orchestra & choir sessions at Ocean Way & Blackbird Studios.
And again...a big Thank You to Denise for setting...
December 1, 2020   0 Comments
I haven't been able to blog much lately, but I did want to mention that I did go ahead and purchase StaffPad for the iPad Pro. So far I love it! even though I have not had a lot of time with it. I had been researching for months StaffPad and other options and Denise kind of forced the decision by ordering the iPad! (she knows I'll research/waffle to death!). I have already used it just a little in the Rhythm Section recording sessions we did yesterday in Nashville for some quick - "here, try this" parts.
November 24, 2020   0 Comments
Finale (scoring program) sent out an email titled "Finale Blog - Keeping Up with Creators During COVID".
They said anyone could submit a blog. goes...
I have been busier than ever during this period. But, I was hired (out of LA) "pre"-covid to arrange-orchestrate-conduct and produce a very extensive project (a musical - over 30 songs, underscore & other). I was hired months before covid hit. None-the-less, it has affected things especially in the recording sessions.
We did a session in Nov. 2019 (pre covid) at Ocean Way Nashville with the Nashville Recording Orchestra that went very well. There was no "sectional" tracking, no masks, etc. We also had a video crew and it went extremely well.
Our second set of sessions was originally scheduled for Apr. 2020, but due to covid was postponed to July. This time it would be a week of sessions at Ocean Way (orchestra), Blackbird Studios (choir), The Poole Room (rhythm section) , House of BIG (vocal...
2 stave sketch-score
November 9, 2020   0 Comments
2 stave sketching is simply composing (or arranging) a “piano” version of what you will eventually orchestrate. Some writers call it a “sketch” or “sketch-score” others a “reduction” or even “expanded lead sheet”. I tend to use “sketch-score” or “reduction”.
My three primary comp. (composition) teachers all encouraged doing this if time (deadline) allowed. In my early days I did this religiously. As my work load and deadlines increased I often had to go straight into score for many jobs. Add to that technology developments etc. many jobs I have done went straight into score.
When I took on “Chosen” (over 30 pieces of music –songs/underscores) I had no preconceived idea of how I would approach it process-wise. I’m using the word “process” to mean how I go about getting things done – eventually into score. Defining that more – do I go straight into Finale score? Do I do a sketch-score first (2 stave) first? Do I go into my DAW then...
Thoughts on Form
November 9, 2020   0 Comments
You had mentioned "form" when we met on Sat.
A great book on this is Schoenberg's "Fundamentals of Music Composition" which I've had for years and is also good for thematic development.
I'm not suggesting you buy it but it's good even though it's as old as the hills.
Most extended form (Sonata-Allegro /Rondo / others) basically boils down to song form (binary/ternary). I've told students for years if you can't write a 2 part song don't take on extended forms. For film type work a good knowledge of song form is probably sufficient.
Classical song form is basically what we call A/B form or in ternary some use C or A1. Good examples are Schubert Art Songs though the form is based on the poetry.
Popular music songs of the 20s through 70s were predominantly A/B form including the Beatles, Motown and others. There are always variants of this some songs like "Cats in the Cradle" (Harry Chaplin) being all A sections with a bit of instrumental Interlude.
November 7, 2020   0 Comments
Collaboration (Arranging)
Let’s start here. This is a proverb from the Bible: “As iron sharpens iron so one person sharpens another.” It is from the Book of Proverbs (27:17).
I am again going to focus on “work-for-hire” arranging (& orchestrating).
As I have written before. This type of work is collaborative. Not unlike other work in the music industry.
Unlike concert commissions this kind may be a bit more difficult. Usually in concert commissions the commissioner is hiring a composing “artist” and (for the sake of keeping things simple) tends to let them go about their “art” (style, etc.) without a lot of demands. If a violinist commissions a violin concerto they obviously expect certain things like the music to include violin! There may be other requests but less so “demands”.
As I said in a prior blog, many of my clients (commissioners) are songwriters. And also as I said before, what you get from them may be a very complete song...
What is Arranging
November 5, 2020   0 Comments
I work as a Composer-Arranger-Orchestrator & Conductor. I have worn many hats in the music business as well, but writing music and conducting are what I most enjoy and what I mostly get hired to do and frankly am damn good at! (do I have to apologize?).
I’m finally getting around to doing some blogging. Why? Because I also like to help others who do what I do and encourage them.
So, I’m going to start at the beginning which will be an explanation of what arranging is. For some of you, you can just yawn for a bit.
Arranging is basically composing but the primary elements are someone else’s, namely the “melody”.
Arranging projects can vary widely. I do a lot of what I (and others) call “work-for-hire” arranging. It is kind of like commissions but also different.
Much of my work comes from songwriters or their producers. Sometimes jobs come from record labels but less so these days. The songs I receive can be very complete or…not so much. Therein...
Blog Subjects
November 5, 2020   0 Comments
Well, I said I would start doing more blogging...
I have now finished all of my arranging-orchestrating obligations on the musical "Chosen".
We return to Nashville at the end of Nov. to track the completion of Act 1.
Act 2 was released on CD a couple of weeks ago and came out very nice.
What I would like to blog about is subjects related to (primarily) Arranging & Orchestrating.
I will try to pick something daily or as much as time allows me to discuss.
You are welcome to contact me with subjects to discuss.
spinner gif