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We’ve Only Just Begun, Rainy Days and Mondays, Close To You, Ticket To Ride… Apart from the quality of the songs, many co-written by Richard Carpenter, The Carpenters records are distinguished by his unique production and arrangements. He combined the elements of sophisticated vocal harmony, classical strings and woodwinds, and acoustic and electric keyboards and rock guitar. The enduring quality of his work is even more impressive considering the fact that he was only twenty-three when the Carpenters had their first hit. Carpenter developed an arranging formula that, together with Barry Manilow’s work, created the definitive template for what we now know as the contemporary pop ballad. No producer, arranger or recording artist working for the last forty years can record a ballad without reference to his hits. Yet it is not generally known that Carpenter arranged these classic pop masterpieces.
I was fortunate to interview Richard Carpenter in 2003. I found him to be charming and passionate. As all serious artists should be, he was opinionated – his opinions based on 30+ years of some of the biggest hits of all time. Here we have a unique opportunity to hear one of the masters of popular music examine in detail his working methods and demonstrate his concepts at the piano. Enjoy and take notes!
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