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Musical Composition, Theory and Songwriting/A basic question about the work of an arranger?


QUESTION: May I ask this question?

So you have recorded a demo with a good vocalist accompanied by a piano only. Of course, the vocal track and the piano track are recorded separately, and you can easily send a vocal track only (wav file) via email.

If you want to have a more professional backing track (strings, guitar, etc), can you send the vocal track only to an arranger? Can a professional arranger give you a backing track if he receives that vocal track?

Thank you so much.

ANSWER: Hi Liam :

The short aanswer is yes -a professional arranger can write to a vocal / piano track only ( Although it's much more usual to work with a full rhythm section -pno /bs /drums  and the singer depending on the style of the song ).  If  no rhythm is available, the arranger can work with a tap tempo track as a basis for further additions.

Keep in mind that this method will limit the arranger to chords and routine as laid down by the pianist.

there are some caveats involved ( appearance of wrong notes by the pianist etc ) but generally this is a fairly normal way of working
long distance with an arranger .I am now working on a project myself that involves remote contributions by talents in three cities
( Seattle /Nashville /and Atlanta )

hope this helps!

Phil Kelly

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you so much.

May I clarify? What if you send the arranger the vocal only (no piano track). In that case , can the arranger still make a new backing track for that vocal?


Absolutely NO!  send the arranger everything you have -the piano track conveys much important information even without a rhythm section present. .

as an example , here's a track I composed and arranged in this manner. It started with a pino /vocal /bass track to which live strings, woodwinds and horns were added after the initial session. the entire process involved sessions in LA, Dallas with the original track recorded to a click in Tacoma WA.  ( scroll down to "My Museum" )

Phil K

Musical Composition, Theory and Songwriting

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Phil Kelly


I`m a semi-retired professional music arranger with over thirty five years in all phases of the commercial music production business. I can try to answer questions regarding music arranging, theory, orchestration , and/or composition for most acoustic ensembles .( jazz band or orchestral ) I can try to offer suggestions about studio music recording procedures and some basic MIDI applications , too. In the course of my career I`ve worked with such artists as Doc Severinsen and the old Tonight Show Band, Bill Watrous, Buddy Greco, John Gary, Mel Torme, Julius LaRosa, as well as the Pop programs of the Fort Worth, Dallas, North Carolina, and Houston Symphonies, as well as library music material for ABC, ESPN, and NFL Films.

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