Becoming a good arranger means listening
After a solid 90 minute rehearsal to prepare for my upcoming shows, I grabbed the walkman and listened to some classic Motown. Some of the greatest arrangements by the most prolific and imaginative songwriters ( Holland, Dozier, Holland ) of the last 50 years.With the Funk Bothers , serious jazz cats playing RnB pop ,holding it down ( namely James Jamerson on bass ) you can here the gods of harmony, melody and verse conducting post grad instruction for those of us willing to listen and learn.For example: Nothing But Heartaches by The Supremes is a tour de force in songwriting execution, performance and musicianship. All within a 3 minute span of joy and excellence.
The guitar intro is sweet, but only to be pummeled by bass, horns and drums.The asked and answered syncopation between Diana, Mary and Florence is nothing but sweet ass soul.Motown had an advantage over their counterparts at Stax, Atlantic and EMI Records because not only could they play Soul and pop, they could also mix jazz and classical.
Listen to Baby Baby Dont Cry by The Miracles.There are at least 5 songs within one.This track takes so many twists and turns that any 45 second snippet could be sampled today and a song could be derived.But we're talking about headier days when imagination and grit were the standard.Doing more with less.
Always go back to the masters and listen to why this music still electrifies generation after generation.