Every song ever performed a cappella has started as an arrangement – an idea on paper, brought to life by a group of singers. Bradley Turnbull, experienced arranger for hire, understands the importance of a cappella arrangements as the foundational building block of any performance piece.
Turnbull was a dedicated musician throughout most of his life, though he chose piano as his instrument over voice – that is, until he was almost finished with his high school career. It was in college, though, that is love affair with a cappella – and arranging – began.
“I was introduced to a cappella in 2006 when I joined The Rochester Institute of Technology’s all-male group, Eight Beat Measure, in which I served as the music director and group’s primary arranger for three years,” he said.
During his final year in the group, Turnbull truly came into his own as an a cappella force to be reckoned with.
He produced and recorded the group’s first-ever single track album, “No Safety Nets.” On that album, he arranged eight of the CD’s nine songs. His arrangement of “Honor Him/Now We Are Free” was nominated for a Contemporary A cappella Recording award, and earned “Best Arrangement” at the collegiate competition held at SMACC.
Turnbull graduated from RIT in 2010, earning a degree in Applied Mathematics. He is now a third-year graduate student at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, working toward a PhD in Statistics.
Of the many arrangement he has executed, he is especially proud of his work on “Honor Him/Now We Are Free” from the movie “Gladiator”.
“Being nominated for a CARA was an incredible honor”, Turnbull stated. “It was a surreal experience to see my name mentioned along with people I idolized”.
He has also completed an arrangement of Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven” for his alma mater (an arrangement that can now be heard on Eight Beat’s newest album, “Heatin’ Up”), whose emotional significance makes its execution especially memorable for Turnball.
“In the fall of 2010, several members [of Eight Beat Measure] had friends and family members pass away so I put together that arrangement in honor of those loved ones they lost,” he explained. “I definitely felt a personal connection to the song, which makes it an arrangement that I remember very well.”
Though he admittedly does not have much free time with his present workload, what he does have he dedicates to his love of music.
“Now that I’m in my 3rd year of graduate school, I have completed a majority of my coursework and my schedule is slightly more flexible since I spend most of my time working on my dissertation research,” Turnbull said. “This enables me to spend about one day a week devoted mostly to arranging, which is a nice release from the stresses and frustrations of research.”
He is an arranger and consultant for Sled Dog Studios and operates his own website, BT Arranging, crafting freelance arrangements for groups all over the nation - including Eight Beat Measure – as well as in Europe.
He also participates in a small band comprised of fellow statistics graduate students who enjoy taking top-40 hits and revamping the lyrics to relate to their field of study.
“It is exactly as nerdy as it sounds, if not more, but it’s nice to get together every week or so and relax and make music,” Turnbull said. ”We have also been invited to perform at a few statistical conferences and departmental functions and I have really enjoyed the opportunity to perform for audiences after graduating from RIT.”
Watch “Honor Him/Now We Are Free,” as performed by Eight Beat Measure, below!