Topic: Composer / Arranger?  (Read 4044 times)

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Offline Bart Elliott

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Composer / Arranger?
« on: January 15, 2002, 08:17 PM »
Do you consider yourself to be a composer and/or arranger? If the answer is YES, please share what it is that you do or have done, and whether you consider drums/percussion to be secondary (or primary) to your composing or arranging.

Online James Walker

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Re: Composer / Arranger?
« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2002, 03:18 AM »
Yes - I started with arranging classes in college, and continued on from there.  I've never taken "composition classes," but I've discussed the subject with my jazz and percussion teachers over the years - then just jumped in and started.  I figured there were enough other vibists out there doing jazz standards that I should focus on creating original material (altho I do still play standards, and I still do greatly enjoy playing standards.)  I wrote and arranged all of the material for my first CD, and I've also composed/arranged for big band and steel band.

In terms of which predominates my little musical world, that's tough to say.  I play more often than I write, but I actually think that I write a little bit better than I play.

One of my arranging teachers offered what I thought (and still think) was an interesting comment:  he said that drummers, especially when they get their theory/harmony skills together, often make for the best arrangers, as we're used to listening for (and responding to) just about everything that's going on in a band - especially in big band drumming.  The ability to hear different textures really helps in crafting an arrangement, compared to a horn player whose focus has been largely on his section of the band.
"I played with Holdsworth, Fripp, and Belew...I wish we drummers could play that differently. Drummers are starting to homogenize into the same guy, which frightens me." - Bill Bruford

Offline Bart Elliott

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Re: Composer / Arranger?
« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2002, 03:27 AM »
Quote
One of my arranging teachers offered what I thought (and still think) was an interesting comment:  he said that drummers, especially when they get their theory/harmony skills together, often make for the best arrangers, as we're used to listening for (and responding to) just about everything that's going on in a band - especially in big band drumming.  The ability to hear different textures really helps in crafting an arrangement, compared to a horn player whose focus has been largely on his section of the band.
Yes, I have always felt and believed this to be true, even in other areas of music ... but I'm getting ahead of myself ... that will be another thread.

FACT: Most music programs in the public schools consider a students academic scores and I.Q. when recruiting players. They pick the kids with the highest I.Q. and grades to play percussion.

rlhubley

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Re: Composer / Arranger?
« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2002, 06:19 AM »
I don't consider myself to be like a full-time arranger, but in any of the bands i play with(that allow my advice, opinions, and so on), I almost always do some arranging.   I think it is very true that drummers have a good ear for this.  We train for years learning how to play, and we listen to what we play, which is basically a 4 part harmony.  This teaches us how to listen to things as a whole, and to be able to hear texture.  Unfortunately, there are still many uneducated musicians who don't understand this and are actually threatened by the fact that drummers are "real musicians" too!!

sidereal

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Re: Composer / Arranger?
« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2002, 08:38 AM »
Yes, I consider myself both, but always co-composer and co-arranger so far in my personal experience.

Composer

I do a fair bit of drum programming, creating beats, patterns, etc. Sometimes they're quite elaborate, with a great deal of mixing, filtering, panning, volume changes, etc... I'll bring those to someone else to create chord progressions and melodies. I'd like to start doing those melodic aspects myself some day, but right now the band I work with takes on that stuff and does it very well. In the same band, we also do live jams and record them in 16 discrete channels to Pro Tools and create songs out of them later through editing and, yes, arranging.

In both of the above cases, I very much consider myself a "co-writer." I don't have the inclination at this point to be a sole composer of songs. It may be that I also don't have the talent :) but I've never actually tried it, so I don't know.

Arranger

Any time a musician/artist/songwriter brings a song to you with chords and melody and asks you to apply a rhythmic structure to the song he or she is created, you are part of the arrangement process and you deserve credit as a co-arranger. Even if that person is telling you "hmmm that's not working, try something else," if you come up with the part, you are a co-arranger. The only exception is if the writer specifically tells you exactly what to play or brings in drum charts. But you're not a composer, IMHO, by coming up with a beat/pattern/part to someone else's composed song. If the same person comes up to you with the same idea, and you create the entire structure (drum pattern, verse/chorus/bridge/etc structure, bass parts, breaks, instrumentation) then you are the sole arranger, even if it's someone else's composition. This happens often with traditional music (say an old Celtic traditional song) where the melody and chord structure already exist, but you make it into a new "song."


Offline Bart Elliott

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Composer & Arranger
« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2002, 03:30 AM »
Well I definitely fall into both of these catagories, but playing drums & percussion is my primary source of income as well as artistic expression.

As far as arranging, I do an assort of projects from time to time. Everything from arrangements for groups that I play with to being highered as an arranger in which I would engrave and chart out the final product. I've arranged for Big Band, Marching Bands, Jazz groups, Pop bands, Percussion Ensembles, as well as some brass charts for a number of recording projects.

Composition is a love, but hardly something that brings in the bacon ... unless you consider creating drum/percussion tracks and loops as composition ... which it basically is ... but wasn't really thinking in those terms when I posted this thread. I've composed a number of jazz charts, drum/percussion solos, and other pieces of music. At this point, nothing has been official published.

I use Cubase & Finale as my tools for arranging and composing; very little manuscript these days.

popmusic

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Re: Composer / Arranger?
« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2002, 12:04 PM »
Yes, I'm a composer/arranger, although I usually refer to myself as a songwriter/producer (less pretentious-sounding? I dunno...  ;D ) ...

I used to engineer/produce full time, then did video post, then changed career paths so I now do the music thing (mostly) for fun. I used to do a lot of MIDI/sequenced stuff -- contemporary R&B, corporate video soundtracks, techno, kareoke tapes. Not really any big time stuff, although a few things got local radio/TV airplay.

For whatever reason, I've grown soooooo tired of the MIDIfied/quantized sound. My  http://www.simplecarnival.com]current music outlet  is a reaction against that, I think. I don't want to use drum samples, loops, etc... All of that stuff is fine if that's the sound you're going for, but most of the recordings I love don't have that sound.

Percussion is an important part to my arranging, although not drums -- at least, not yet. (I have half of an acoustic drum set, half of an electronic set... I won't be recording a full drum kit until I get into a house and get the rest of the acoustic set.)  

In any case, playing drums is part of my grand scheme :o of eventually being able to multitrack myself playing most of the instruments in an orchestra. I'm not anywhere near my goal, but I'm having a blast while making the attempt.  ;)

I'm a Cubase user as well...

mateus

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Re: Composer / Arranger?
« Reply #7 on: February 22, 2002, 05:16 AM »
Yeah I do some composing/arranging... but not most of the time...

When I'm composing I think to different things at the same time, the drums/percussion parts, and the general melody, wich I may work deeply later...

When I get the drum parts done, together with a cool "guitar riff", I write it down on the GuitarPro ([url]www.guitar-pro.com ), a software I like to do this.

Then I listen to what I wrote down a several times while working out some other arrangments on my head, bass parts, other melodies, etc.

Then I take the guitar, that I played for 2 years, and start composing what I tought...

Write down it all again and listen, until I think that it is sounding good.  Show it to my bandmates and it begins all again...  ;)

For me it work fine this way...  8)

Commander

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Re: Composer / Arranger?
« Reply #8 on: February 24, 2002, 03:26 PM »
Drummers make excellent arrangers and often very succesful composers, and I would say that I consider drums to be primary to my composition technique. Case in point - I have recently started scoring for orchestra but was told by the orchestrator that I had written for too many drummers - apparently I needed eight to play the parts!

On a slightly different tack, writing in a band situation often means that the drummer loses out on royalties. Because we have no means of playing a tune or chords, we are often considered the 'timekeeper' whilst the others throw their ideas around. It would be nice to think that there would be equal shares, but things change (believe me) when a large publishing deal is floating around!

Many of us can see the bigger picture however, and speaking personally I found the best way to overcome this was to develop all the other skills - everything from programming to playing guitar, arranging to producing, and eventually writing tracks away from the band and presenting them to the singer who would then write the lyrics. This worked for me and made me more content in a rehearsal / writing situation. I now consider myself a musician and not solely a drummer, although the drums are and always will be my first love.

 

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