Style Writing for Performers and Arrangers

The best musicians have not only mastered the scales and techniques on their instrument - they also possess a broad knowledge of musical styles from around the world that they incorporate into their songwriting and improvisations. Dan Moretti’s Style Writing for Performers and Arrangers will increase your style vocabulary and performance skills and help you to incorporate the styles and grooves that have influenced contemporary music into your own playing. “This course will increase students rhythmic, harmonic, melodic and production vocabulary, in regards to all of the styles covered in the course,” says Moretti. “Basically, students will learn to recognize the key rhythmic content and harmonic approach for specific styles, and explore what these rhythms might sound like when they’re mixed.”

Students learn to identify the qualities that typify specific styles through abundant audio examples and lessons that trace the development of contemporary musical styles including soul, R&B, funk, rock ‘n’ roll, and hip-hop. “During the course, their vocabulary increases,” says Moretti. “And they learn to be creative and incorporate this new vocabulary, and to be able to recognize that soul music has some roots in Afro-Cuban music. To be able to see that The Rolling Stones were influenced by soul and blues music, which originated from music with Afro-Cuban roots in it. So that’s really where we’re coming from.”

In order to help students master these lessons and apply them to their own playing and songwriting, Moretti asks them to replicate the qualities in particular songs by writing an original composition that follows the same style rules. These assignments are applied to all of the styles studied in class, including Brazilian traditions, like samba. Because some songwriting proficiency is required, students should be able to record and notate short examples for the rhythm section. As long as they have that basic skill, though, the sky’s the limit. “I���ll start them off by saying, ‘Pick one of these examples and use just the drum groove,’” Moretti says. “Then we’ll move into creating a four bar groove for drums, bass, and piano, and try to copy the instrumentation, the sound of the instruments, and the mix.”

Because he covers such a broad subject matter, Moretti also outfits his students with the resources to learn more about the styles and genres that interest them outside of the class. The goal is to help musicians of all skill levels gain a greater knowledge of styles, improve their performance skills, and expand their musical language. “The kind of vocabulary it builds is about how to be intelligent in different styles and to communicate,” says Moretti. “Even just the rhythm stuff, and to be able to write something based on all of these styles.”