Arranger - making sure everything just worksThe fine art of making arrangements that just work is more work than just meets the eye and ear. An arranger has to consider which instruments are playing the music, the skill level of the performers, the mood trying to be conveyed, the anticipated audience, if the end product is a live performance, a recording, or both. Sometimes arrangements also take into account the pieces that will be played before and after. Additionally, when playing covers the question has to be addressed regarding how close to the original the performed piece should sound.
Almost always I find myself arranging for myself as either a solo pianist or an accompanist for other musicians. However, I certainly have consulted with bands that want to have adjustments made to the arrangements they play, in order to get a better sound. Troubleshooting what doesn't work can go a long way in helping a band have a more professional sound.
Having absolute pitch memory (more often referred to as "perfect pitch") helps immensely. It makes it possible to analyze the piece much more quickly and accurately.
One experience I had makes my arranging prowess very clear. A. J O'Neil of A.J.'s Cafe throws multi-day concerts to maintain his place in the Guinness World Book of Records for the longest continuous concert. I was scheduled to show up during the last 90 minutes of the 313-hour concert held in April, 2010. When I arrived, a guitarist was still on stage. I liked his music so I asked him if I could back him up on piano. He said "I'm playing originals." I told him "don't worry, I'll stay out of your way." Things were loose enough that he decided to let me join him in process. When he started playing, I would immediately know what chord he was on, and joined him a half-beat behind. After hearing his chorus and verse, I knew his pieces and joined him without the half-beat delay. After a few songs he said to the crowd "I'm playing originals I have never played in public. I've never met the guy who is playing piano behind me, and he is playing right along, doing great." He then turned around, stared at me, and said to me "how are you DOING that??" I smiled at him and said "just keep playing." While this certainly speaks to my skills as a performer, it speaks even more strongly to my skills as an arranger.
If I can come up with arrangements in real time to pieces I have never heard before, I can certainly help your band sound better.
Of course, there has to be a match of styles. If your band is doing heavy metal, you would do well to pick someone else. If your band is playing pop, light jazz, standards, or worship music (especially Judaic worship music), then I will be much more useful. If you are a vocalist looking for backing for any of these types of music, I am right at home.
The best way to proceed is for us to meet so I may see what you have and what you want to do. Please call or e-mail so we can set up a meeting and review what you want, and help you get it.