It was my honour to have recently been commissioned by Black Voices to arrange an a cappella vocal arrangement of ‘Something Inside So Strong’. This was the song they started with and now commemorates their 21st year in the music business.
This video is Peter's arrangement of 'Something Inside So Strong'.
The song is written by Labi Siffre, London, UK. It reached #4 in the UK Singles Charts in the 80’s. He wrote it after watching on TV a white soldier shooting at black children. It’s an anti-apartheid anthem that encourages Africans to stand tall in the face of adversity. Suppression of black people was still prevalent around this time. The lyrics are powerful… ’I know that I can make it, though you’re doing me wrong so wrong, I thought that my pride had gone, oh no, something inside so strong’.
Q: How did you get from the initial conversation to the finished vocal arrangement?
I thought it through; how it would sound. I thought about the purpose of the song, what key it would be in and the vocal range of the singers. I pretty much knew the voices I was writing for- rooted in black Afro-Caribbean and African music with uplifting and energizing vocals.
I decided to arrange the song in two keys, Bb for the verse and F which is the dominant key for the chorus. I challenged myself (and BV’s) as the verse would be too low/high in F and the chorus too high/low in Bb, so why not put them together J. The keys are relative, so it gave me more scope to work with.
Also, I usually envisage how the arrangement will sound; I sing it myself and get into the rhythm of it, then play the notes in using my midi keyboard or punch the notes in using the mouse on the computer.
Q: Can you give more details about some of the ideas you included in this vocal arrangement and why?
Harmony wise its fairly block, moving together, polyphony and complexities. When you hear the lines sung individually there are some really nice melodies and counter melodies. The backings accompany the lead with doos and emphasises certain lyrics to enhance the message. When merging the parts I describe it like, ‘yeah, it’s all gravy man’.
Q: When Black Voices first heard the musical arrangement, did they have to make any changes?
I always have to make changes because BV know what they want. When they hear it they then comment and I tweak things to their liking not losing the essence of my vocal arrangement. That’s why I like to sing the words or have a singer sing the arrangement so they get to understand how the words fit; i.e. the phrasing, dynamics etc.
When Mark Kibble, Stevie Wonder or Brian McKnight do a vocal arrangement it’s brilliant!! You can hear all the parts (hopefully) and as a singer or someone with a keen ear, you think or say ‘oh my Lord!’ (…in a good way). That’s impossible! But you know it is possible because you’ve heard it sung J.
Q: What tips do you have for vocal arranging?
Try to keep melody lines simple. The tune is key; listeners (and performers) need a reference point. Try different things that will work and challenge yourself. The market is saturated with musical ideas but one can still dig deep and find something that hasn’t been done before. Know your vocalist’s range and abilities!!!
Q: What advice would you give to someone singing one of your arrangements?
Take a deep breath and go for it!
If you’ve got any more questions to ask Peter, add them below and we’ll get his response onto the website asap
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''A master of pace and tension as a composer; an exceptional talented recording artist" Jazzwise Magazine
“A dozen years of international musical experience under his belt.” The Voice Newspaper
“To my knowledge and experience Peter is one of the most gifted musicians and original composers of his generation.” Prof. Andrew Downes
"Dr. Daley is a phenomenal keys player, arranger, producer, one of UK's hidden secrets, a pioneer. He is par on par with the best out there" Owen Downer, Producer, Keys, Studio Engineer,Birmingham UK
"I've been playing keyboards and creating music professionally for about 20 years and it always seems to me that the people I could really learn from are out of reach 'superstars'. Peter is that rare and special thing, a lovely approachable 'ordinary' guy who just happens to have world-class musical genius. I had my only piano lesson in 30 years with him and was inspired. I also realized just how much I had to learn!" Steve McDaniel, Singer- Songwriter, Pianist, Milton Keynes UK
"I found working with Peter Daley a real eye-opening experience! Peter is not short of inspiration and is a great person to work with/for. Peter has a way of pulling the very best out of you, giving you faith in yourself to be able to accomplish what he hears for the final project. He is a gifted individual, extremely humble and without a shadow of doubt would recommend others to him and work with him again, Thanks PD". Sandra McCalla, Vocalist, Choir Director, Luton