Todd explores music arrangements

Cora Astin, Photo Editor

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Sophomore Claire Todd began arranging music this year shortly after Chad Pape introduced the idea of music arrangements earlier this year. Todd became inspired to write her own pieces.

How long have you been a musician?

Since about third or fourth grade I have been involved in choir and stuff at school. But I really got into it once middle school started, because the choirs there were really great.

Where did you go to middle school?


Why did you become a musician?

It just came very naturally to me, kind of. It’s something I have always enjoyed ever since I was really little in Christmas pageants and stuff. It just kind of happened and developed that there were more opportunities for it. Like in high school you can be in different choirs.

What do you do?

Well, right now I am in Varsity and Chamber choir, I can play a couple instruments, I do a lot of musicals and plays here at the high school too. I arrange music, also, for like choir and stuff.

How long have you been composing or arranging music?

I just started arranging this year, because [Chad] Pape very close to the beginning of the year gave us a crash course in arranging music. I was like: ‘Oh! This is fun! I kind of know about music theory, and I could just hop into this.’

How do you compose?

Usually, what I do is I write stuff for choir, so it’s a lot four-part music. So I’ll pick a song that I want to arrange, like I did ‘Shut Up and Dance’ a while ago. And what I’ll do, is I’ll listen to it, I’ll try and figure out what the different instrument parts sound like and figure out how to write that for singers.

How do you get the ideas for the beats, harmonies and melodies?

A lot of stuff is actually in the music, but sometimes you do have to tap creative licenses if you just — Pape talked about a thing called composite rhythms where you have to figure out the rhythms so that they sound like the song, but all the rhythms by themselves don’t match up with the song. So you kind of have to think on your feet about it. A lot of it is actually in the music, but then you have to work around this part sounds like this, but I want another part sound to sound like this.

When and where did you learn to compose or arrange?

Pape gave us that, also, before that I had a little experience with music theory because I took voice lessons. My voice teacher liked to talk to me about music theory, she’ll talk to me about chord structure and other stuff like that. That kind of gave me a good background for arranging.

How are you planning to compose music of arrange music in you future?

I’d kind of been dancing around composing music, because that in itself is a lot harder than arranging. With arranging everything is right there in front of you, but with composing you’d have to make it from scratch. Ideally in my future, I am planning on going to college for music theory and composition. So hopefully, I’ll learn more form there, because ideally I’d like to go into the music industry but I know that, it’s really though.

What is your best accomplishment as a musician or an arrangement artist?

I got really excited once I — because like ‘Shut Up and Dance’ was the first piece I actually arranged and took to Pape. He was like ‘Hey! This is really good.’ That kind of gave me a boost of confidence to keep going and figure out that this is what I’m good at and is what I like doing.

What’s your biggest failure and how did you overcome it?

I think right now it’s a lot the partially finished songs hanging over my head. Because I’ve got hundreds of songs at home that I’ve gotten a page or two done on it. I’m kind of not feeling it right now, but I really want to get this done and I think the song will sound really good. Then, not having the actual knowledge to write the song. One song that I’ve just started working on, a lot of time you have to have other resources other than the actual, physical song to listen to because you need to hear the other parts and you can’t hear the other parts in the song. Then, you can’t write it out. So, a lot of times the circumstances are really crappy.

Where do you see music taking you in your future?

I mean, realistically, I hope that it would take me into the music industry and I could write music, sing songs and fun stuff like that. A more realistic take like that, would be arranging music for companies like Hal Leonard and other stuff, where people buy the music. Like ‘Hey! There is this arrangement of this song.’ Because all of the music for all of the choirs is always bigger music companies that would be fun too.

What do you never leave home without for your music?

I always have to have my choir binder on me, because I use it for class. But a lot times I have sheet music in there that I can look at and make reference to. Actually, in that binder I have all these old songs that I sang years and years ago, that I can look at and reference. Right now I am working on learning how to write barber shop music. So I have a bunch of old barbershop quartet songs, in my binder that I have been looking through and I was like ‘OK, how do you write the chords for this?’

What defines you as an artist?

I am not really sure, I just do a lot of stuff.

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