Arranging Update: Opening Up for Commissions

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From today I am available again for arrangement commissions! Thank you for your patience while I took time out to do some learning and experimenting. As I’ve explained to the various people who have enquired since I stopped taking new commissions back in October so I could work my way through those I’d already committed to and create some space for my own project, I didn’t keep a waiting list in the interim. Experience has told me that if you queue people up too many months in advance, by the time you get to them, their needs have changed anyway.

So, I won’t assume that you’re still looking at the songs you were talking about earlier in the year, and am starting from a blank slate. As is my usual practice, I slot people in basically in the order that the commissions are confirmed (including, if applicable, evidence of the necessary permissions), though jiggling about a bit to take into account the timescales different groups are working to.

It will be interesting to see what it’s like going back to 4-part writing after 6 months focused exclusively on 8-parters. Though of course, if you’d like to commission an 8-parter, I’m better at it now that than I was 6 months ago :-)

And so a final update on that project. It has produced, 6 complete new charts, 5 of which are published and available through Sheet Music Plus. The 6th I’m keeping in reserve to premiere at a Come and Sing day my chorus will host when the world is back to a state when we can have all our barbershop friends piling in from around the country. That’s going to be awesome when it eventually happens.

It has also seen one chart from years ago reworked (also published) and 3 or 4 arrangements started and abandoned. One of the things I promised myself at the start of the project was freedom from the obligation to finish everything, and it’s interesting to reflect on the reasons why I’ve I chosen not to complete the different examples.

In the first case, early on in the project, I found myself getting a bit bogged down, and felt that whilst I had cracked some of the problem-solving, other aspects of it would be better handled when I had a bit more experience in the medium. There seemed to be too many possibilities and I was struggling to find ways to choose between them. I had kind of intended to go back to that one (and I may yet if it looks like someone wants to sing that song), but there was enough else to do and it didn’t call me back.

In another case, I was exploring whether it is actually possible to arrange an 8-parter that also works as two separate 4-parters. I started experimenting with a chart of mine that already existed, and got far enough with it to establish that the principle was sound, but that I’d need to rework the existing chart quite a lot to make it work. Rather than reinvent that particular wheel, I started afresh on The Parting Glass, which is now available in both 4-part versions as well as the combined one.

In the final case, I just got tired. It was the middle of June, and a lot else was going on making it hard to clear time and headspace to work on it. It suddenly occurred to me that the arbitrary deadline of finishing it by the end of the month in time to re-open for commissions in July was entirely of my own making and that I could choose just to put it aside and give myself a couple of weeks off arranging so that I’d come to the new commissions feeling fresh. One of the weird things about lockdown after all has been that whilst income-generating work is much less plentiful, it’s also hard to generate a sense of leisure. Not arranging for a couple of weeks apparently counts as my summer holiday this year.

I’m really glad I took this time out as a focused project; there’s a sense of momentum in repeatedly exploring a medium through different musical lenses. So, sorry to keep you waiting, but I’m confident it was worth it. Looking forward to seeing what you come up with for me to work on next.

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