Behind the Scenes - More Than Music
My work begins long before I arrive on location to perform. From building the setlist and creating the music, to transcriptions and arrangements, here's the 411 on how I do what I do.
Step 1: Introductions
When I first connect with a client, I like to have a discovery call with them to learn about what event they're planning and their theme. Their overall vision for their event and details like duration and any songs or genres that they are interested in are also helpful clues when it comes to creating a setlist just for them.
Step 2: Set List Creation
I'll use the details I gathered during our discovery call to recommend songs for the set list. For a modern celebration in a converted warehouse loft they may be interested in Top 40 songs, whereas for a lively family-centric celebration outdoors on the riverfront, Country or Folk might be more their style. I'll lay out the proposed timeline and song order, and review it with them to see what edits they would like to make.
Step 3: Custom Arrangements
When my client has a special song that they would like that isn't already in my repertoire, I set about creating it for them. The overall process entails:
Sourcing a backing track
Transcribing the melody
Matching the melody with the track
Sometimes there are instances where the track can't be purchased and it has to be created. In most cases this entails finding a recording with the track online and isolating the audio. Then the audio can be clipped and converted into an mp3. Because in these instances I have less control over the key that the track is in, matching the melody with the track looks different: I have to transcribe the melody by ear from a separate recording and then use clues from listening to the tracks side by side to determine how to transpose the melody into the correct key to be paired with the clipped and converted backing track.
In extreme cases where no recordings exist for me to create a backing track, I'll source instrumental tracks in the desired key, and create them beat-by-beat using a chord chart. The melody line is the first thing I transcribe because it's the most straight-forward part of the process. Then based on the key of the original song, I'll find an instrumental track of chords in that key and break down the audio by clipping and converting the track. Then I can cut each beat and arrange them in the order necessary. If a chord chart is available, I'll use it as a guide.
Transcription: v. the practice of notating a piece or a sound which was previously unnotated (When a musician is tasked with creating sheet music from a recording and they write down the notes that make up the piece in music notation)
As the date of the event approaches, I run a mock performance to ensure all my equipment, music and tracks are prepared and seamless. Backups are created to ensure that I'm prepared for all foreseeable eventualities.
This is the part that my clients get to see: I arrive on site, set-up, and perform their custom setlist live! While this is the most visible part of my work, there's so much that goes into each performance behind the scenes before I even arrive on location.
Why do I do what I do? After all, I could theoretically save myself the trouble and have my clients select from a predetermined list. Many musicians do just that.
"Christie is a magical goddess that turned my wedding fantasy into a reality. I had instant tears of complete happiness when she played our song as I walked down the aisle" -AJ M.
And that's why I don't.