Over the last ten years I have been working on being an arranger. It started with “A Perfectly Good Friendship” which was a group of songs I pictured with a horn section and big production. We recorded it in Edmonton and I went up a few days early to make up horn lines with Mike Lent. I was pretty decent at writing a chord chart but was functionally musically illiterate. However I did have some ideas which I hummed to Mike and he wrote down patiently while offering some good editing advice. The results were amazing, with great players like Dave Babcock, P.J. Perry, John McPherson and Bob Tildesley, (as well as Teddy Borowiecki, Mike Lent and Scott Anderson) playing their hearts out and asses off. For the first time, the ideas in my head turned directly into the music I was hearing. I vowed that I would teach myself to be an arranger.
I bought a computer and some Finale software and set out to teaching myself how to you use both. There were days when I would be at it for eight hours straight before I realized I hadn’t eaten and my trance like condition made the drive to the drive through a bit of an ordeal! I started writing symphonies just because they had the templates for symphony orchestras. It got out of hand. Now I’ve settled that down quite considerably (having two kids helps) but I feel like I’m a pretty good arranger. Like all the other aspects of music, you never stop learning and I realize that I could devote an entire lifetime to try to become a master arranger. Maybe next life.
In the meantime, I still have some opportunities to use my skills. I write choral arrangements, mostly for a Calgary choir called Revv 52.
From time to time I appear with a two piece horn section and I always try to come up with new arrangements for my Christmas concert.