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 Post subject: DISCO ORCHESTRATION.. A HISTORY
 Post Posted: Mon Dec 01, 2008 4:20 pm 
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Role of disco orchestration

The sound of a disco song, as with the sound of a song of any genre of music, depended on the particular tastes of the artists, and - if relevant to the genre - the arrangers, producers, and even the orchestra conductors, and even still the concertmasters dictating the type of stylized playing method of each section of the orchestra, down to the engineers and mixers who assembled all the elements to make a fluid, cohesive sculpture of sound through melodic continuity.

The disco orchestration stylings of different producers can be discerned by most listeners. Van McCoy's The Hustle (1975), for example, uses very different orchestration techniques from those of Silver Convention's Get Up and Boogie (1976). Van McCoy composed, arranged, and produced his song, and also conducted the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. The sound of Van McCoy's song was further influenced by the musical influences of concertmaster Gene Orloff.

Silver Convention's song was written, arranged, and produced by Michael Kunze and Sylvester Levay, who conducted the Munich Symphony Orchestra. The orchestra sound was influenced by concertmaster Fritz Sonnleitner. Here, one can only imagine the New York sound, as produced by Van McCoy, on Silver Convention's Get Up and Boogie, and the funky Munich sound, as produced by Kunze and Levay, on Van McCoy's The Hustle.


Regional variations

As such, many regional sounds of disco developed during the mid-1970s, as a result of collaborative efforts of many individuals with a legacy of formal education and training in music theory and orchestration, whose educational backgrounds laid the foundation for the musical genre that was to burst forth onto the dance-music scene into what would come to be regarded as designer music. Many of the conductors and players of the large city symphony and philharmonic orchestras responsible for the grand productions of disco were seasoned veterans of orchestras throughout the country, some even going back to the big-band era.


Philadelphia

The Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra was the foundation of the Philly Sound, which represented an ebullient mid-tempo style that retained the funky characteristics of the sound of the streets of inner-city Philadelphia, however, elevated to a polished form with interwoven arrangements of lead and background singers in triple harmonies with lush arrangements of woodwinds, horns, and strings, as heard by groups such as MFSB, The Three Degrees, The Ritchie Family. Principal arrangers, producers, and orchestra conductors originating from Philadelphia included Kenneth Gamble, Leon Huff, John Davis, Richie Rome, Norman Harris, John McFadden, Gene Whitehead, Victor Carstarphen, Jack Faith, Bunny Sigler, Dexter Wansel, John Usry, Bobby Martin.

New York

The New York Philharmonic Orchestra was the foundation of the New York Sound, which branched into four main arms: One characterized by the mid-tempo, richly-hued stylings and 'bubbly' beat of The Hustle, as in songs such as Odyssey's Native New Yorker (1977), arranged, produced, and conducted by Charlie Calello, with Gene Orloff, concertmaster. Gerri Granger's Can't Take My Eyes off of You (1976), arranged, produced, and conducted by Bob Crewe, with Gene Orloff, concertmaster. Vicki Sue Robinson's Turn the Beat Around (1976), arranged, produced, and conducted by Warren Schatz and George Andrews, with Gene Orloff, concertmaster

One characterized by the mid-tempo operatic orchestrations of Maynard Ferguson's Pagliacci (1975), arranged, produced, and conducted by Jay Chattaway and Bob James, with David Nadien, concertmaster. One characterized by the mid-tempo, funky baselines and orchestrations of Roberta Flack's Back Together Again (1979), arranged, produced, and conducted by Eric Mercury and Arif Mardin, with Gene Orloff, concertmaster (the style predated rap)

One characterized by the up-tempo, Latin-infused, extravagantly-orchestrated stylings of Wing and a Prayer Fife & Drum Corps.'s Baby Face (1975), arranged, produced, and conducted by Stephen Schaeffer and David Horowitz, with David Nadien, concertmaster. Samantha Sang's From Dance to Love (1979), arranged, produced, and conducted by Meco Monardo, Tony Bongiovi, and Harold Wheeler, with Irving Spice, concertmaster.

Principal arrangers, producers, and orchestra conductors from New York included Van McCoy, Brad Baker, Charlie Calello, Harold Wheeler, Warren Schatz, Tony Bongiovi, Meco Monardo, Michael Zager, Dennis King, Randy Muller, Jeff Lane, Michael DeLugg, Tony Camillo.


Los Angeles

The Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra was the foundation of the Los Angeles Sound, which branched into four main arms: One characterized by the mid-tempo funky orchestrations of Carrie Lucas's Dance with Me (1979), arranged, produced, and conducted by Don Cornelius, Dick Griffey, and Leon Sylvers, with Janice Gower, concertmaster.

The "New York-style" mid-tempo, extravagantly-orchestrated rhythms can be heard in Love Unlimited Orchestra's My Sweet Summer Suite (1976), arranged, produced, and conducted by Barry White and Gene Page, with Jack Shulman, concertmaster. Tavares' Heaven Must Be Missing an Angel (1976), arranged, produced, and conducted by Freddie Perren and David Blumberg, with Paul Shure, concertmaster. One characterized by the New York-style mid-tempo 'bubbly' beat and spicy orchestrations of Phyllis Hyman's You Know How to Love Me (1979), arranged, produced, and conducted by James Mtume and Reggie Lucas, with Gerald Vinci, concertmaster

New York-style uptempo beat with multi-dimensional orchestrations can be heard in High Inergy's Shoulda Gone Dancing (1979), arranged, produced, and conducted by Donnell Jones and Gerald Lee, with Assa Drori, concertmaster.

Principal arrangers, producers, and orchestra conductors from Los Angeles included Gene Page, Barry White, Dave Crawford, Bruce Miller, Freddie Perren, Paul Riser, Hal Davis, Skip Scarborough, Jerry Peters, Laurin Rinder, Mike Lewis, Carl Davis, Sonny Sanders, Simon Soussan, Don Cornelius, Dick Griffey.


Miami

The Miami Symphony Orchestra was the foundation of the Miami Sound, which was an effervescent mid- to uptempo style that represented the colorful Latin heritage of Miami, as in songs such as Rice & Beans Orchestra's You've Got Magic (1977), arranged, produced, and conducted by Pepe Luis Soto, Tato Rossi` and Hector Garrido, with David Chappell, concertmaster. Miami Sound Machine's You've Broken My Heart (1978), arranged, produced, and conducted by Thomas Fundora and Carlos Oliva, with Bogdan Chruzcsz, concertmaster. Principal arrangers, producers, and orchestra conductor that derived from Miami included Cory Wade, Bert Dovo, Clarence Reid, Willie Clark, Freddy Stonewall

Other regions

Other large symphony and philharmonic orchestras in cities across the United States, Canada, and Europe were used to provide orchestral backing for many disco recordings.

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra, whose principal arrangers, producers, and orchestra conductors included: Brad Shapiro, David Van De Pitte, Mike Theodore, Lawrence Payton, Dennis Coffey

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, whose principal arrangers, producers, and orchestra conductors included: Donald Burnside, Edmund Lee Bauer, Danny Raye Leake, Curtis Mayfield, Gil Askey, John Dubiel, Chuck Jackson, Marvin Yancy, Dr. Cecil Hale, Richard Evans

The Nashville Symphony Orchestra, whose principal arrangers, producers, and orchestra conductors included: Moses Dillard, Jesse Boyce, Lloyd Barry

The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, whose principal arrangers, producers, and orchestra conductors included: Isaac Hayes, Johnny Allen

The Memphis Symphony Orchestra, whose principal arrangers, producers, and orchestra conductors included: Lester Snell

The Boston Symphony Orchestra, whose principal arrangers, producers, and orchestra conductors included: Jonathan Klein, D.B. Shrier

The San Francisco Symphony Orchestra
The Montreal Symphony Orchestra, whose principal arrangers, producers, and orchestra conductors included: Tony Green, Denis Lepage

The Quebec Symphony Orchestra, whose principal arrangers, producers, and orchestra conductors included: Dominic Sciscente, Michel Daigle, Jacques Lafleche, Lee Gagnon, Pete Tessier, André Gagnon

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra, whose principal arrangers, producers, and orchestra conductors included: Ian Guenther, Willi Morrison, Eric Robertson, Pete Pedersen, Harry Hinde

The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra
The London Symphony Orchestra, whose principal arrangers, producers, and orchestra conductors included: Biddu, Gerry Shury, Pip Williams, Ian Levine, Fiachra Trench, Peter Yellowstone, Larry Page

The Paris Symphony Orchestra, whose principal arrangers, producers, and orchestra conductors included: Cerrone, Don Ray, Alec Costandinos, Raymond Khenetsky, Alan Hawkshaw, Claude Carrere, Alain Wisniak, Charly Ricanek, Daniel Vangarde, Michaele Lana, Guy Delo, Paul Sebastian, Jean-Luc Drion, Jean Kluger, Ralph Benetar, Biram Benelux, Jacques Morali

The Munich Symphony Orchestra, whose principal arrangers, producers, and orchestra conductors included: Thor Baldursson, Frank Farian, Michael Kunze, Sylvester Levay, Juergen Korduletch, Mats Bjoerklund, Stefan Klinkhammer, Anthony Monn, J.-C. Friederich, Tony Lester

The Berlin Symphony Orchestra, whose principal arrangers, producers, and orchestra conductors included: Werner Drexler, Eric Thoner, Joaquim Heider, Uli Roever, Karl Schmitz, Ralf Novi, Charles Orieux, Ingo Cramer


Decreasing use of orchestras in the early 1980s

The transition from the late-1970s disco styles to the early-1980s dance styles can be illustrated best by analysis of the work of specific artists, arrangers, and producers within each region, respective to the time periods. For example, Patrice Rushen, whose major works - Haven't You Heard from 1979 and Forget-Me-Nots from 1982 - contrast sharply to demonstrate emphatically the changes from the 1970s to the 1980s.

The orchestral elements of Haven't You Heard, from rhythms and woodwinds to horns and strings, were co-arranged by Patrice Rushen, who also arranged the near-minute-long extravagant string arrangements for the introduction of the song, whose 100-piece Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra was conducted by Charles Mimms, Jr. and Reggie Andrews, with Charles Veal, Jr., concertmaster. In stark contrast, however, Forget-Me-Nots uses a synthesizer to produce a single, sustaining string-like sound.

As the disco scene began to fade in mainstream popularity, with large labels rejecting disco albums and much of the public turning once again to the rock sound, there was much less room in disco production budgets for the high-cost of professional orchestras.

Electronic instruments like the Arp Solina string ensemble began to replace the large orchestras of the 1970s.

Thousands of examples illustrate the change from the luxuriant disco sound to the minimalist and electronic dance sound occurring from 1979 to 1980, just a few of which are:

Madleen Kane
Forbidden Love/Thunder in My Heart (1979); orchestrations arranged, produced, and conducted by Thor Baldursson and Michaele Lana, with Fritz Sonnleitner, concertmaster of the Munich Symphony Orchestra
Cherchez Pas (1980); orchestrations: none

Grace Jones
Don't Mess with the Messer (1979); orchestrations arranged, produced, and conducted by Tom Moulton and John Davis, with Don Renaldo, concertmaster of the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra
Pull up to the Bumper (1981); orchestrations: none

Kleeer
Winners (1979); orchestrations arranged, produced, and conducted by Dennis King and Woody Cunningham, with Gene Orloff, concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra
Get Tough (1981); orchestrations: none

Aretha Franklin
Ladies Only (1979); orchestrations arranged, produced, and conducted by Van McCoy, with Gene Orloff, concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra
Jump, Jump, Jump to It (1981); orchestrations: none
The Whispers
And the Beat Goes On (1979); orchestrations arranged, produced, and conducted by Dick Griffey and Leon Sylvers III, with Janice Gower, concertmaster of the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra
It's a Love Thing (1980); orchestrations: none

Evelyn Thomas
My Head's in the Stars (1979); orchestrations arranged, produced, and conducted by Ian Levine and Fiachra Trench, with David Katz of the London Symphony Orchestra
High Energy (1981); orchestrations: none

Stacy Lattisaw
When You're Young and in Love (1979); orchestrations arranged, produced, and conducted by Van McCoy, with Gene Orloff, concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra
Jump to the Beat (1980); orchestrations: none

Miquel Brown
Symphony of Love (1979); orchestrations arranged, produced, and conducted by Alan Hawkshaw and Don Ray, with David Katz, concertmaster of the London Symphony Orchestra, and Albert Speguel, concertmaster of the Paris Symphony Orchestra
So Many Men, So Little Time (1982); orchestrations: none

Vicki Sue Robinson
What's Happening in My Life (1979); orchestrations arranged, produced, and conducted by Warren Schatz, T. Life, George Andrews, and Sam Peake, with Gene Orloff, concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra
Hot Summer Night (1981); orchestrations: none

Billy Ocean
American Hearts (1979); orchestrations arranged, produced, and conducted by Ken Gold and Lynton Naiff, with Harry Bluestone, concertmaster of the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra
One of Those Nights (Feel Like Gettin' Down) (1981); orchestrations: none

Angela Bofill
Angel of the Night (1979); orchestrations arranged, produced, and conducted by David Grusin and Larry Rosen, with David Nadien, concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra
Too Tough (1982); orchestrations: none

Earth, Wind and Fire
Boogie Wonderland (1979); orchestrations arranged, produced, and conducted by Maurice White and Al McKay, with Janice Gower, concertmaster of the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra
Let's Groove (1981); orchestrations: none.

The revival of orchestration in the 1990s and 2000s

Many producers during the 1990s and 2000s attempted to make their disco music as authentic to the 1970s sound as possible. The following examples illustrate the revival of orchestration:

Mude o Baile (2002) and Superpoderosa (2002) by BsB Disco Club: violins by Igor Macarini and Luiz Carlos, cello by Guto Guerra, trumpet by Moisés Alves, tenor and alto saxophones by Anderson Pessoa, trombone by Lucas Borges, arranged by Marcos Tani and Ricardo Boy

Last Days of Disco (2003) by Alcazar: orchestration by the Stockholm Session Strings, arranged by Jesper Nordenström

Cosmic Girl (1996) by Jamiroquai: strings scored and conducted by Simon Hale, arranged by Simon Hale and Jay Kay

Spend Some Time (1994) by the Brand New Heavies: string arrangements by Aaron Zigman and Andrew Levy, flute by Mike Smith

Should I Let Him Go? (2000) and You Turn My World Around (2000) by The Company: violins by Aaron Meyer and Adam LaMotte, viola by Leslie Hirsch, cello by Lori Presthus, all from the Portland Philharmonic, arranged by Bradley Swanson and (for the latter) Bryan Everett

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 Post subject: Nuyorican Soul
 Post Posted: Mon Dec 01, 2008 6:05 pm 
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And in 1997--->MAW's Nuyorican Soul with Vince Montana doing the arranging of the orchestra.

Man Soul-Boy, this is a DYNOMITE article.
You have some of my favorite swingers in there; some dudes that I have been following intently thru the years:
Norman Harris, McFadden & Whitehead, Jack Faith, Bunny Sigler, Bobby Martin, Vince Montana, Richie Rome, Warren Schatz, Meco, Toni Bongiovi, Randy Muller, Jeff Lane, Jerry Peters, Barry, John Davis, Mtume, Reggie Lucas, Paul Riser, Hal Davis, Clarence Reid, Willie Clark, Brad Shapiro, Mike Theodore, Dennis Coffey, Curtis, Jesse Boyce, Isaac, Patrice Rushen & Charles Mimms Jr., Biddu.

ALL THESE NAMES ARE LIKE MY MENTORS, BRO!!!!
In the period from '73-'75 we looked on album covers for hours at a time; and when we seen one of those names----we scoffed it up!
This was the only clue that there MIGHT be a good song on the LP.
Thru the subsequent years, that's what we did with music from the pool, imports, record shops, friends etc.
Sometimes it took hours to read thru a bunch of album sleeves;
and MANY golden nuggets were found just that way!!!!

Good Stuff Mikey!!!


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 Post subject:
 Post Posted: Mon Dec 01, 2008 6:45 pm 
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Was always drawn to the likes of the Mike Theodore Orchestra in the late 70's as his tunes had such a feel good factor, just had to hear the opening bars and I was on my feet dancing in an instant also loved the body of work that Alec R Costandinos was involved with.This man made it his mission to champion the sound of orchestral disco, liked the way he would funk up his disco arrangements at times..Could go on and lists literally dozen's of more orchestra's that I have enjoyed over the years but that would just be repeating the article above, so I will leave it at that I have always enjoyed this style of disco and I thank all the wonderful orchestra's from the past that gave us all them monster jams!

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 Post Posted: Wed Dec 03, 2008 5:23 am 
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A very informative article. Glad it's been posted. There's some good schooling in that. :)

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 Post Posted: Wed Dec 03, 2008 2:22 pm 
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The Trident studios of London had amazing session musicans playing their asses off for both British and French productions ( Love de Luxe, most Alec R Costandinos affaires etc). Alan Hawkshaw is probably the best known. He was a jazz/library/soundtrack musican, like Slim Pezin and Marc Chantareau of Voyage and Arpadys fame that were based in Paris.
In Italy, respected gurus like Oscar winner Ennio Morricone, Stelvio Cipriani, Vince Tempera and Nico Fidenco contributed flashy and brilliant disco arrangements to the scene - even Piero Piccioni had a grandiose orchestral dance album out in 1978. These have roots in light jazz/soundtrack/lounge music and are now commanding astonishing prices in the net.


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