When working with a new client there is always a learning curve for both parties.
Every client has different expectations of what is needed, when it is needed and most importantly what the benchmark is for, “THIS PROJECT IS DONE!” Depending on the nature and the timeline of the project, my process is constantly changing and evolving. But let’s look at a very common project process.
1. Project scope:
My initial dialogue with the client will determine what is required and how I can help make it happen. We define deliverables.
- What is the music for? Production show, Pops orchestra, school group, solo vocal with piano etc. We define the ensemble and/or final use of the music.
- What is needed? Arrangements printed on to paper or delivered as PDF, recorded music delivered on multitrack audio files, original music, transcribed music etc.
- What is the timeline? This will determine not only when the final deliverables are due but what are the check points along the way. Aspects like confirmed outlines, demos, etc.
- What is your budget? This will determine what I can provide for the client based on the project’s requirement and the time we have to complete the project.
2. Project outline:
This is where we determine the exact requirements of the project.
- How long in minutes does the arrangement or the music track need to be? For a production show this would include an exact outline of each scene, what is happening on stage, how long in minutes etc.
- What is the exact instrumentation of the ensemble and what are the strengths and weaknesses? This will help us define musical considerations such as tempos, keys, density of orchestration, later in the process. We will focus how the arrangement best showcases the performer(s). For example arranging for a high school show choir in a competition will be different than for a professional pops orchestra featuring a Broadway singer.
- What is the schedule? When are the demos due? When do rehearsal begin? When do choreographers, directors or video support people need tracks?
- What is the payment schedule? There is generally a payment upon agreement of the project, additional payments during the process and a final payment upon completion.project’s requirement and the time we have to complete the project.
3. Project in process:
Now that we have an an agreement and the details clearly defined it’s time to get to work!
- Sketches and demos: Usually I start by creating a piano and vocal sketch in music notation software that lays out the form of the arrangement. I then generate a simple piano demo. From this we make sure the keys, tempo and form of the arrangement is what is required. For some projects more in depth demos may be needed with rough drum, bass and keyboard tracks. This is often so that choreographers, music directors, video editors and others can get to work with a solid framework of the arrangement to keep the project moving forward.
- Orchestration: Once the sketches and demos have been signed off on by the client, I can start filling out the arrangements. Orchestration is the craft of writing parts for vocals, horns, strings, rhythm section instruments, etc. Also included in this step is the use of computer generated instruments and sound design. All these elements are used as needed to create the exact mood needed for the project.
- Music production: This the process of getting the music to be performed and/or recorded prepared. Charts (printed music) are prepared and printed. For live performance it may end here and the charts are delivered to the client. For recording, click tracks are produced, computer generated synthesizer and sound design elements are finalized and it’s off the the studio to record vocalists and musicians. All of these elements are then used to create the finalized mix of the project.
- Delivery and completion: Once the arrangements and/or mixes are signed off on the project is delivered. This could be as simple as attaching PDF files and/or MP3’s of the arrangements to an email. For larger projects, high quality audio files are prepared and delivered via the cloud (Dropbox or similar services) or saved to physical storage device (DVD rom or hard drive) and sent to the client.