Garrett Breeze is a Nashville-based composer and arranger whose credits include film and television, Broadway stars, Grammy-winning classical artists, and many of the top school music programs in the U.S. With more than 1,000 choral arrangements currently in circulation, he is a sought-after clinician and adjudicator who has worked with more than 250 middle and high school choirs throughout the United States. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Media Music from Brigham Young University and a master’s degree in Commercial Composition and Arranging from Belmont University.
1. Please describe your basic setup. (Your technical setup as well as the physical space that you work in.)
I use a souped-up Dell XPS Desktop with 64GB Ram and a bunch of extra SSD drives. For audio I use a Steinberg UR22 and a pair of Yamaha HS5 Studio Monitors. I’m running Finale with a CME Xkey 37-key MIDI Controller for note input and my iPad Pro triggering shortcuts through JetStream Finale Controller. I use two 27 inch screens, one for Finale and one for ProTools and Netflix. I use a MacBook Pro when I’m on the road and also for making rehearsal tracks in Logic and YouTube videos in iMovie.
2. What is your process for brainstorming or inspiration-seeking as you start a new arrangement?
First, I listen to as many versions of the song as I can find because a lot of the time there will be a cover version or a live touring version or a remix that will inspire me. I usually do a morning workout and I will make a playlist of the songs I’ll be working on that day to get it in to my brain as much as possible. From there I often put the recordings into ProTools and start cutting them up and moving things around to figure out a general outline. Once I have a rough idea of what I want to do I start writing but I’ve learned for me it’s important to just get something/anything on the page and then move on to something else. I’m the type that has to write a horrible first draft and then step away so when I come back to it fresh it’s easier to dig in and really get it where it needs to be.
3. What is your go-to snack and/or drink when arranging?
I’m team Dr. Pepper but I’ve had to switch to Diet recently because I drink it too much. I also eat a lot of late-night cereal during show choir season when I’m up till all hours of the night arranging.
4. What is one thing you wish you would have known when you started arranging?
That it’s better to be simple and unusual than complicated but normal.
5. What is your favorite shortcut or time-saving trick in your notation software?
My best trick is using the TG Tools “Process Extracted Parts” plug-in in Finale to write my horn parts. I input the horn line (including when it splits into chords) on the lead trumpet staff. Then I copy and paste it on all the other staves. And what this plug-in lets you do is go through each instrument and say “if it’s a two-part chord use this note, if it’s a three-part chord use this note” and so on and so on. Then when I’m done I drop the octave on the trombone, tenor, and bari staves using a keyboard shortcut and boom, horn parts are done.