Digging Upon “The Contemporary Arranger”
I picked one up the other day, Don Sebesky’s “The Contemporary Arranger”. I had it in school; my edition from the 80’s is still out “on loan” to someone, I have no idea to whom…so I bought the latest edition from the 1990’s…it’s shocking how the music jumps off the page. The first page has a little excerpt and talks about economy in orchestration, and the little example blows me away–worth the price of the whole volume.
Who writes for contemporary ensemble with economy and creativity these days? I know a bunch, but the majority of composers are what I call “stripers” – they paint the parts like stripes on the score, each colored line stands out, but the overall effect is a ton of color, with no economy. In my composition blog I talk about top-down writing and a different kind of economy; I guess it’s all a reaction to what I perceive as an ignorance of colorful, creative and economic arranging brought on by tracking on computer. Layering samples on Pro Tools or Logic produces music that’s multi-layered, but not economic and for the most part, and mostly not interesting.
Anyway, for all you geeks out there, here’s a link to the Sebesky book. There are great audio examples. He distills years of studio work into a still-relevant and powerful work. For a textbook.