A Guide to Musical Arrangements for Cruise Ship Entertainers

 

I get a lot of questions from singers about how to order musical arrangements for their show. I have been commissioning arrangements for over 20 years and now have had over 500 for all sorts of bands from jazz trio, big band and full orchestra. Most though have been for working on cruise ships and I have learned by my mistakes the best way to go about it. If you want to order some of my arrangements right now, scan down to the bottom of this article.

Commission your own charts

If you want to commission your own arrangements sit down with a pianist, agree keys, cuts, vamps (repeats), play-offs and anything special you want the band to do for you during a piece. Remember, it's your show. You can do what you like. I love creating arrangements and putting medleys together, it can be a very fulfilling process. Take your time to get this right. A mistake here can be costly to correct later on.

In Cabaret Secrets I interviewed musical directors, pianists and arrangers and cover just about everything you need to know about commissioning arrangements and working with musicians, including:

  • How to make a good first impression
  • When to use instrumental breaks
  • How challenging to make your arrangements
  • The different compositions on bands on all the major cruise lines
  • Tips of how to rehearse with the band
  • Why musicians alter parts

The book's out now in paperback and eBook formats. Click here for more details and to hear free Podcasts from musicians already headlining on cruise ships, Cruise Directors, agents and more. You can just skip to these podcasts from cruise ships MDs: Hamish Revell (Cunard), Joel Pierson (Crystal Cruises) and Joey Mix (Cunard). You may also like this from big band leader Joe Pettitt on how to get work with a big band.

Contacts

There are a few guys I use to arrange most of my charts for ships. Here are their contact details but just as I earn no commission from them for referring clients, nor can I can't take any responsibility for their work.

First, Phil Steel. He's done some great small band and big band charts for me which were very reasonably priced and well received by the band.

I've used David Carter for many years. He is fast and has an archive of stock charts he sells.

Paul Campbell of MusicEtc. is a graduate of the Royal Collage and now arranging for full orchestras and big bands as well as small group. He's done 100s of charts for me and produces stylish yet very playable arrangements.

Shaun Evans has a large library of cheap arrangements, but I cannot vouch for their quality. I hear comments from some people saying they are too simplistic or plain wrong, but they are cheap and could be a useful way to get going.

Simon Niblock arranges a lot for cruise ship production shows and numerous guest entertainers. He knows the business and what's required better than most people.

Tried and tested arrangements for only £20

I have decided to release a few of my tried and tested arrangements for sale. You can click on the name of the song to hear a very basic midi recording of it (don't be put off by the rudimentary sounds - it's just enough to give you the key and structure of the chart) and for most you can also download the vocal parts. Most of these are written in the way I describe above, though in some cases the lead sax is alto and sometimes it's tenor. They are £20 (including VAT) each. Send me a message with your order, I'll send an invoice and once payment has cleared we'll email you the PDF charts right back.

For more help, check out the book here

Ain’t That A Kick In The Head in the style of Dean Martin Arranged for: piano, bass, drums, guitar, trumpet, tenor, alto, trombone, Bb for solo horn.

As Long As I’m Singing in the style of Matt Monro Arranged for: piano, bass, drums, guitar, trumpet, tenor, alto, trombone. Click here to download the PDF vocal part.

Bewitched in the style of Jack Jones Arranged for: piano, bass, drums, guitar, trumpet, tenor, alto, trombone. Click here to download the PDF vocal part.

Chicago (That Toddlin’ town) in the style of Sinatra Arranged for: piano, bass, drums, guitar, trumpet, tenor, alto, trombone.

Come Fly With Me in the style of Sinatra Arranged for: piano, bass, drums, guitar, trumpet, tenor, alto, trombone. Click here to download the PDF vocal part. 

Copacabana in the style of Barry Manilow Arranged for: piano, bass, drums, guitar, trumpet 1, trumpet 2, tenor, alto, trombone, Bb for solo horn. Click here to download the PDF vocal part. 

Daydream Believer in the style of The Monkees Arranged for: piano, bass, drums, guitar, trumpet, tenor, alto, trombone. Click here to download the PDF vocal part.

Delilah in the style of Tom Jones Arranged for: piano, bass, drums, guitar, trumpet, tenor, alto, trombone. Click here to download the PDF vocal part.

Didn’t We in the style of Matt Monro Arranged for: piano, bass, drums, guitar, trumpet, tenor, alto, trombone.

Do Wah Diddy in the style of Manfred Mann Arranged for: piano, bass, drums, guitar, trumpet, tenor, alto, trombone. Click here to download the PDF vocal part.

Don’t Rain On My Parade in the style of Bobby Darin Arranged for: piano, 2nd keys, bass, drums, guitar, trumpet, tenor, alto, trombone, Bb for solo horn. Click here to download the PDF vocal part. 

Fly Me To The Moon in the style of Sinatra Arranged for: piano, bass, drums, guitar, trumpet, tenor, alto, trombone. Click here to download the PDF vocal part.

For All We Know in the style of Matt Monro Arranged for: piano, bass, drums, guitar, trumpet, tenor, alto, trombone.

Have You Met Miss Jones? in the style of Robbie Williams Arranged for: piano, 2nd keys, bass, drums, guitar, trumpet, tenor, alto, trombone. Click here to download the PDF vocal part.

I Gotta Be Me in the style of Sammy Davis Arranged for: piano, 2nd keys, bass, drums, guitar, trumpet, tenor, alto, trombone, Bb for solo horn. Click here to download the PDF vocal part. 

It Had Better Be Tonight in the style of Michael Bublé Arranged for: piano, bass, drums, guitar, trumpet, tenor, alto, trombone. Click here to download the PDF vocal part.

Leroy Brown in the style of Sinatra Arranged for: piano, bass, drums, guitar, trumpet, tenor, alto, trombone. Click here to download the PDF vocal part.

Let’s Face The Music in the style of Nat King Cole (the quite space in the middle of this sound sample is where the band plays a solo) Arranged for: piano, bass, drums, guitar, trumpet, tenor, alto, trombone, Bb for solo horn. Click here to download the PDF vocal part.

Little Ol’ Wine Drinker in the style of Dean Martin Arranged for: piano, bass, drums, guitar, trumpet, tenor, alto, trombone, Bb for solo horn. Click here to download the PDF vocal part.

Love On The Rocks in the style of Neil Diamond Arranged for: piano, 2nd keys, bass, drums, guitar, trumpet, tenor, alto, trombone.

Maria in the style of Matt Monro Arranged for: piano, bass, drums, guitar, trumpet, tenor, alto, trombone.

Memories Are Made of This in the style of Dean Martin Arranged for: piano, bass, drums, guitar, trumpet, tenor, alto, trombone.

Nancy (With The Laughing Face) in the style of Sinatra Arranged for: piano, bass, drums, guitar, trumpet, tenor, alto, trombone.

New York, New York in the style of Sinatra Arranged for: piano, 2nd keys, bass, drums, guitar, trumpet 1, trumpet 2, tenor, alto, trombone, Bb for solo horn. Click here to download the PDF vocal part.

Nice ‘n’ Easy in the style of Sinatra Arranged for: piano, 2nd keys, bass, drums, guitar, trumpet, tenor, alto, trombone, Bb for solo horn. Click here to download the PDF vocal part.

Play Me in the style of Neil Diamond Arranged for: piano, bass, drums, trumpet, tenor, alto, trombone.

Portrait of My Love in the style of Matt Monro Arranged for: piano, bass, drums, guitar, trumpet, tenor, alto, trombone, Bb for solo horn. Click here to download the PDF vocal part.

Save The Last Dance in the style of Michael Bublé Arranged for: piano, bass, drums, guitar, trumpet, tenor, alto, trombone, Bb for solo horn.

Something Stupid in the style of Sinatra Arranged for: piano, 2nd keys, bass, drums, guitar, trumpet, tenor, alto, trombone. Click here to download the PDF vocal part.

Sway in the style of Michael Bublé Arranged for: piano, bass, drums, guitar, trumpet, tenor, alto, trombone, Bb for solo horn.

Sweet Caroline in the style of Neil Diamond Arranged for: piano, 2nd keys, bass, drums, guitar, trumpet 1, trumpet 2, tenor, alto, trombone, Bb for solo horn.

That’s Life in the style of Sinatra Arranged for: piano, 2nd keys, bass, drums, guitar, trumpet 1, trumpet 2, tenor, alto, trombone, Bb for solo horn. Click here to download the PDF vocal part.

The Impossible Dream in the style of Andy Williams Arranged for: piano, bass, drums, guitar, trumpet, tenor, alto, trombone.

Up, Up & Away in the style of Andy Williams Arranged for: piano, bass, drums, guitar, trumpet, tenor, alto, trombone, Bb for solo horn. Click here to download the PDF vocal part.

Thanks for reading. If you like something, leave a comment. If you disagree with something, leave a comment. If you have a question for me, leave a comment.

Cabaret Secrets (c) Gary Williams 2016