Typesetting: from hand-written to professional

Anyone can get a piece of “music engraving” software, cheap or even free, toss in some notes and maybe some lyrics.  But the shortcomings are obvious: lines crammed or stretched out, parts and lyrics not well-aligned, awkwardness of independent parts.  On the other hand, good-quality software (Sibelius or Finale) is pretty pricey, and difficult to learn.

Why spend all that time and money when you can just ask me to do it?  I’ll make a crisp, professional-looking, high-resolution sheet, any shape and size you need.  I can usually finish in a day or two.  And you won’t get a better price—unless your brother-in-law offers to do it free.

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Arranging: from one format to another

Music comes in endless formats: string quartet, piano-four-hands, Soprano/Alto/Baritone acappella, Low-voice-with-guitar, etc.  If you want to music in a different format than it was written, it needs to be arranged.  Any trained musician can do this for his own instrument or format.  But what if you’re not a trained musician?  Then it’s my job.

Or.  Sometimes a simple song or hymn is more interesting when it’s alternated between various formats, voicings and harmonies.  Again, anyone with an instinct for music in a particular format can usually create a decent arrangement of a simple song or tune.  But if you want help, that’s what I’m here for.

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Harmonizing: from simple melody to accompanied music

Writing a good melody is a different skill than writing a good vocal harmony or piano accompaniment.  Over the years I’ve seen hundreds of songs by amateur and professional musicians, with excellent melodies but thin, dry, or awkward harmonies.  Many otherwise excellent musicians release stellar recordings with memorable tunes, but make 4-part vocal arrangements that are almost unsingable.

With over 30 years’ experience singing all four parts, I have an instinct for what will work well for the untrained or partially-trained voice.  And of course in the process, I sing every part multiple times.

This is my favorite service of all.  Send me anything, and I’ll make vocal harmony for it that enhances the feel and impact of the melody or arrangement.  I’ll attempt any format, but I find SATB harmony the most versatile and powerful.

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Transcribing: from recording to sheet music

It’s amazing how often I’m asked to make sheet music from a recording. Apparently there’s a lot of music out there without sheet music available.  Someone has a recording of music they’d like to sing, or play.  Or it’s their own recording and they’d like to sell the sheet music.  Or they play by ear and they need sheet music for a competition.

I’ve been doing this for 20 years, from some good recordings and some very bad recordings.  Even with modern transcription software, it’s hard work.  But somebody’s gotta do it.

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Transposing: from one key to another

“Help!  My sheet music is in E major but that’s too high for our vocalist!  We need the piano parts in D, or maybe C!”

How about both?  Typesetting the music will take, well, however long it takes, but once it’s typeset, the software can transpose it to any key in just a second.

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Synth practice recordings:  from sheet music to MP3 or wave

So your chorus is learning a new song, or maybe 5 songs, or 20… and they’re not all crack sight readers?  So few people are these days.  But anyone can become familiar with their lines, effortlessly, by listening to them on recording.  I’m told that if you hear something 21 times you own it for life.  I might have the number wrong but you get the idea.

So, you can make a recording of each part on keyboard; if you have the time and talent, be my guest.

But why not send the songs to me? For just a few dollars, I’ll send back a recording of each part, either by itself or with the other parts quieter in the background. The music is clear, accurate in pitch and timing, and can easily be adjusted in tempo.

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Vocal practice recordings: from sheet music to MP3 or wave

So you’re sold on the practice recordings idea?  You should be; your singers will learn more quickly and sing better. Your rehearsal time can be used for more important matters like tone quality and dynamics, instead of “getting the notes right.” But those synthesized sounds are pretty monotonous!  And if you had vocal recordings, they could be memorizing the words at the same time!

So who’s going to record all the parts for you, so you can hear them all together, or separately, with the words?  That’s my job.  I’m a baritone with a decent falsetto, so I can sing bass, tenor, and alto parts in range, soprano parts an octave lower.  My voice is nothing special: plenty of folks doing multi-track vocals on Youtube are much better.  But are they available for hire?

No, I’m your guy.

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Book layout: music PDFs organized for printing

You’re making a booklet of all your songs.  Or of your church’s favorites.  Or of new songs you’d like the group to learn.  What order should the songs be in?  How can you make them best fit the booklet, with no wasted space?  If you have the right software you can place individual PDFs to make one Grand PDF, but fitting them all in can be tricky.

Combined with my typesetting service, I can fit all your music neatly into a useful booklet, and even have sample copies printed up for your approval.

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Composition: hymn tunes, soundtracks, etc. composed to suit

From childhood I wanted to be a symphonic composer.  But no one’s paying for symphonies these days; they want soundtracks!  So I studied music theory, harmony and composition long and hard, on my own, and practiced a lot.  But my financial position has always prevented me from taking formal training.  A few dozen hymn tunes, a few choral arrangements, a soundtrack or two, is all I have to my credit.

I offer this service because I enjoy it and would like to do more.  I won’t lie: you can hire more skilled and talented composers.  However, do they work for $20 an hour?  Let me know what you need.  I can probably help.

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Unusual requests: Shaped notes. Bulletin inserts.  etc.

Listing the services I offer wasn’t easy.  I’ve been asked to do a wide variety of projects over the years, and so far I’ve always managed to satisfy.  Maybe you’ll be the first to stump me.

Try me!

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