Orchestration prep: I Run To Christ

I am about ready to get very involved in my new project, and I am going to take the opportunity to share as much as I can about the process here on the blog.  As I have mentioned, we are currently working toward a recording date in Nashville on April 28th where we are recording 5 songs.

These songs are pretty well arranged, but as Steve and I work through the orchestrations, things are being tweaked.  Steve is working from lead sheets and notes that I gave him and also from rough recordings I did.  The lead sheets give him the harmony and form while the recordings are useful to give him what kind of feel I want the songs to have.

There are always conflicts between my lead sheets and my rough recordings (for example, I might change some chords by accident).  And on top of that, Steve sometimes wants to change things to make something work better in the orchestration.  So our goal is to combine my lead sheet, rough recording and his ideas into an official lead sheet that everything will be built on.

Here is the official lead sheet for “I Run to Christ.”  That is not to say that something on here might not change, but if it does, we have to go back and change what I do as well as the orchestration.

I Run To Christ

In the studio, this is the music that I will have in front of me.  I use it mostly to remind myself what chords we have decided to use.

This particular song is a full orchestration, meaning that it will have strings, woodwinds, brass, harp, percussion and a choir.  In all, we will roughly use 40 musicians and we will record many of them multiple times.  For example, the 16 or so string players will be recorded twice so that they sound like 32 strings players.  We will record the 8 vocalists at least 3 times so that it sounds like a full choir.

The form of this arrangement is somewhat typical for me.  It is roughly 4.25 minutes and will start softly and simply with just me on piano.  Strings will be added and then more and more instruments until the sound gets huge.  Then it is going to come way down and end softly.  Here is sort of the way it is laid out:

Intro: Quiet strings/ww
V: Piano/light strings
C: Piano/full strings
C: Bigger and add choir
V: Faster with percussion
C: Add choir
Turnaround: Building to last verse
V: Big and broad, choir
C: Huge climax
Ending: Coming down to just piano/light strings