Often, the task of an arranger is to create parts for a given collection of instruments. This we have done with our standard line up but what happens when there is an exception to the rule?
What do we mean by this?
For example, what happens if your line up uses three guitars and no keyboard; uses two keyboards but no guitars, has no vocalist and/or only has one front line player? Most arrangements would probably be compromised to some degree but TopDots devised the Xtra Pack system to overcome these and many other potential problems.
Each TopDots arrangement has the support of up to 5 different ‘Xtra’ packs, each providing support in one specific area.
Introducing our Xtra packs: -
The Single Front Line Instrument pack is designed to be used when there is only one front line player.
Every Pop Band arrangement includes parts for four front line instruments (Trumpet, Alto Sax, Tenor Sax and Trombone). Each Single Front Line pack (SFL) pack contains all the important figures and riffs consolidated into a single part for a individual player who plays an instrument that is pitched in either Bb, Eb, Concert (Treble Clef) or Concert (Bass Clef).
For example, if your band uses one front line player and that player plays Alto Sax then that person will play the Eb part. All Xtra pack parts are written to exactly match all the other parts ensuring that any combination will integrate perfectly.
Similarly if you use a Flute, Violin or Oboe as your primary front line player, all can use the part for C (Treble stave). These four fundamental pitches of instruments cater for nearly all the popular front-line instruments used today – apologies to all our French Horn playing friends!
The following example has been taken from the TopDots arrangement of Brown Eyed Girl as made famous by Van Morrison in the original recorded key of G major (Concert) Bars 5-8.
The Melody / Instrumental pack is designed to be used when there is a need to have the melody played by one of the front line.
The Melody/Instrument (MI) pack contains the (lead vocal) melody line of the song written for any instrument that is pitched in Bb, Eb, Concert (Treble Clef) and Concert (Bass Clef).
By default, all TopDots arrangements are produced with the expectation that the band or ensemble playing the charts, will include at least one singer. However, there may be very good reasons as to why a singer is not present.
The Melody/Instrumental pack enables a band to perform any song instrumentally. Having the melody available for up to four differently pitched instruments, provides options and gives a band considerable flexibility under a wide range of circumstances.
As with all Xtra pack parts, the Melody / Instrumental Pack can be used alongside any of the normal front line parts of the standard arrangement and are guaranteed to match perfectly.
The following example has been taken from the TopDots arrangement of Valerie as made famous by Amy Winehouse in the original recorded key of Eb major (Concert) Bars 1-13.
The Vocal / Instrument pack is designed to be used when the singer also plays in the rhythm section.
It could be that the line up of the band does not have a dedicated singer; rather they also play as a member of the rhythm section.
The Vocal / Instrument pack (VI) includes double stave parts for Guitar, Bass Guitar(s) and Drums, each with its own dedicated lead vocal stave.
NB: The Vocal / Keyboard part is always included as part of the standard arrangement.
The following example has been taken from the TopDots arrangement of Blame it on the Boogie as made famous by the Jacksons in the original recorded key of Eb major (Concert) Bars 9-.
|Guitar / Instrument|
|Bass / Instrument|
Drums / Instrument
All Guitar parts are written in traditional music notation with the standard part located within the main arrangement. Any multiple guitar parts (available within the Additionals pack) are presented in standard notation. It may be that the Guitarist or Bass player does not read traditional music notation but prefers to read Tablature. In the Guitar pack, fretted instrument parts are available written in both traditional notation and Tablature. Written by one the UK’s top guitarists, each part is created with meticulous attention to detail to accurately represent what and how professional players play their parts.
If an arrangement is in a transposed key, the guitar and bass parts are completely reedited and often revoiced to ensure they are playable and accurate.
The following example has been taken from the TopDots arrangement of Dance the Night Away as made famous by the Mavericks in the original recorded key of E major, plus further examples in D major and G major. Bass Guitar example in key of E Bars5-8.
NB: As a point of interest, the original guitar part (on the recording) was actually played in D and used a capo.
|Guitar - Key E|
|Guitar - Key D|
|Guitar - Key G|
Bass Guitar - Key E
Initially, every song transcribed in its entirety; capturing every instrument in meticulous detail. After a complete ‘off the record’ score is produced, our specialist team of arrangers create the arrangement using the same exacting standard and format.
Line-ups between songs can vary considerably and any instruments that fall outside the ‘standard’ format are included in the Additionals pack.
Many songs are recorded using multiple Guitar parts. Our default line-up uses one keyboard and one guitar so we have to carefully select the most important lines and riffs from multiple instruments and consolidate them into a single composite part. For example, in the song ‘Dance the Night Away’ by the Mavericks, a total of 3 guitars were clearly identified and transcribed. The guitar part included within the standard arrangement is a combination, ensuring the iconic opening rhythm is there and the guitar solo is recreated ‘note-for-note’ later in the piece.
What we have done in this instance is to make these three guitars available in both standard notation and tablature. This means if your band has access to three guitarists then having these three parts played together will produce the realistic and authentic sound of the original. To hear examples of how accurate our arrangements can be, you are invited to watch our demonstration videos available from our Youtube channel or from the details page of every song.
If multiple guitar parts are produced the notation versions will be located in the Additionals pack. The tablature versions of those songs will be found in the Guitar Pack.
Why should we assume the rhythm section in every band comprises of 1 keyboards, 1 guitar, 1 bass guitar and a drum kit player? It may be a band uses two guitarists but has no keyboard at all! This could have the potential to compromise an arrangement had we not devised our AUX parts system. The concept is quite simple.
A part labelled Guitar (AUX) is a specially constructed part for the guitarist, which contains all the important keyboard lines, licks or fills. A band with two guitarists (or more) will have all the information they require.
In a similar way there may be a part labelled Keyboards (AUX), and for most reading this page you’ve already guessed that this part is for a second keyboard player and contains the important guitar licks and rhythms of the guitar.
The drum part contains an accurate transcription of the original recording played by a stand drum set. If there are any additional percussion heard on the recording (Tambourine, Congas, Shakers) these have their own parts which can be given to a dedicated percussionist or shared between the singers.
New Scores are included in the Additionals pack. Although Scores were included for the standard arrangement, the new 'full' scores in both Concert and Transposed pitches include all the additional instrumentation.
There may be other instrumental parts available in the Additionals pack; maybe for a Baritone sax or a second trumpet; strings and multiple synth parts. If you have the players then the combined sounds creates a more authentic sound.
As there can be considerably more instruments in the Additionals pack, any Musical Director or Band Leader will appreciate the updated full Scores that are included in both Concert and Transposed versions.
The TopDots Xtra packs offer a new dimension and versatility to professional bands, amateur groups and school ensembles worldwide.
TopDots truly are, the ‘TopDots’!
The MEGA pack is a combination of all the packs at a specially discounted price.