Marvin Gaye was one of the greatest and more unique voices at Motown.
I heard on NPR that Motown arranger David Van De Pitte died recently. Now, I love music but I can’t tell where one writer’s sound stops and the arranger begins. Van De Pitte was credited with creating some of Motown’s biggest hits.
From the Detroit News:
David Van De Pitte, the arranger who helped Marvin Gaye take jazz, soul and the rumblings of the counter-culture and turn it into the genius of “What’s Going On,” died on Aug. 9 of cancer. The arranger, composer and music director, a longtime Metro Detroiter, was 68.
He is survived by Carolyn Barnett-Goldstein, his partner of 26 years, two daughters by a previous marriage, a brother and a sister.
The work of an arranger isn’t always understood by the general public; they often take a creative but unfinished idea and translate it into musical language, spelling out what each musician is supposed to play.
While early Motown music was simpler, by the time Van De Pitte arrived arrangements were complex and that unseen structure of the Motown sound was part of its appeal.
When an arranger tweaks and advances the music, it’s considered co-writing, and Van De Pitte did that on “What’s Going On.” He was nominated for a Grammy for best arranger for the album in 1971. (more… )