Musical Composition, Theory and Songwriting/The role of arrangers in rock music?


May I ask this question?

When it comes to rock bands and artists, like U2, Bruce Springsteen, do they ask for arrangers' help when making albums or performing?

For example, the guitar/keyboard/synth sounds that we normally hear from these artists. Are they written by an arranger or are they created by the bands themselves?

Thank you

Hi Ben:

You are correct in assuming that in the traditional "rock" format, the "arrangement" is often donw within the group itself
often from something as a chord sheet ( or even by ear by the members of the band ). The drummer will often be tasked with coming up with his own part as the song develops. Also, sometimes an outside "producer" may make suggestions as to overall feel, routinging of song
structure, order of solos to aid in achieving an overall "feel" to the song.

Where an arranger may come into play in this process is if the band or producer desire to "sweeten" the production by adding strings
and/or horn parts after the fact. This is where the specific skills of an arranger would be necessary to provide the added written material
to acjieve this.

Today, often this "sweetening" might be done with samples - possibly by the group itself -depending upon the style of the soong.

hope this helps.

Phil Kelly

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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