Arranging “Call Me Maybe,” Part 3

In Part 1, I described how I devised an overall strategy for the arrangement, then transcribed the verse parts. In Part 2, we examined the keyboard part in the chorus. Today, I shall conclude by summarizing the other rhythm parts in the chorus and bridge.

The guitar in the chorus is elementary: 5th chords in rhythmic unison with the keys.

The bass doubles the roots throughout.

As I mentioned in Part 2, the keys need to dominate the arrangement right here. I have found in performance that laying low with the guitar part can be a challenge. Right before this tune, I need to do something that attenuates my overdrive channel volume. For now, it’s selecting a quieter model on my Variax, which I prefer to turning down the OD1 channel on my amp, which might prove difficult to do just the same way every night. This is a situation where a volume pedal or an extra EQ pedal might make life easier.

Our band’s manager asked if I could give our horns something to do. I wasn’t crazy about throwing horns into the mix, but it doesn’t hurt to give a group options. This arrangement will work with our without the horn section. I decided to use them only in the chorus to reinforce the keyboard.

I could have voiced the horns with the trumpet doubling the highest note of the keyboard — an obvious approach, given that the highest notes seem to carry an important melody. But that also seemed a bit too near the edge of the trumpet’s range. When you push an instrument that hard, its intensity can distract attention from the principal voice of the arrangement. So I took a chance in assigning the lead voice to the tenor sax and trombone, playing in unison, with the trumpet playing roots above. In jazz, this would be blasphemy. But after hearing this in performance, I’m okay with the results. The trumpet does tend to pop out a bit too much at times; but I figure that even if savvy listeners might notice something about the lead line that doesn’t resemble the album (which is unlikely), they have already accepted the use of horns — already a departure from the original.

The second half of the chorus has the guitar doing a repetitive, 4-note pattern:

This sounds like a synth in the original; it’s tough to tell because it’s one of the more subtle components of the arrangement. In performance, I cut my overdrive a bit. My approach is to use a Boss SD-1 throughout the tune, coupling it with the clean channel for the verse riff and the above pattern, and switching to the amp’s overdrive channel for the power chords in the chorus and the lead in the bridge. As in every other part of the arrangement, my objective is to lurk in the shadows and provide textural support. It is important to use your technology to suppress as well as impress.

Note the volume swell in the guitar part at the end of the first chorus:

Here I also had the tenor and trombone double the bottom two notes of the 5th chord. This is a type of subtle touch that often comes to mind when you are focused on making an arrangement sound ideal, and not simply transcribing parts.

Finally, here is the last new phrase in the song, a guitar lick that soars above the bridge:

I indicate “long delay” at the end of this section, so the final two notes can echo in the background during a break.

The rest of this arrangement was a matter of cutting parts here and there and mapping out sections. Finally, I double-checked the legibility in the parts, and made sure there were rehearsal marks and helpful dynamic markings where appropriate.

I hope this process has been educational. I recently completed another arrangement that I’d like to share in an upcoming post.

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