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Meet Ted Case

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ted Case.

So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Since moving to LA ten years ago, I’ve worked professionally as a musician and composer. That has meant wearing lots of different hats. In recent years, I have particularly loved writing string arrangements for music artists. That usually means listening closely to a recording or demo of a song, then composing the parts that violinists, violists, and cellists will play for a performance or recording of the song. I’ve arranged strings for boylife, Ruel, Alina Baraz, Slow Hollows, YAS, Amy Ahn, Lou Roy, SPELLLING, Okudaxij, Rozzi, Tim Carr, Olivia Kaplan, Rosie Tucker, Steven van Betten, Erin Bentlage, Adam Brock, Nick Dorian, and more. A lot of these people are my friends in the music community here, and all of them are artists I admire. Along with all these songwriters, it’s such fun connecting with the amazing pool of freelance string players in this city… the bench is unbelievably deep. I also love working with existing string quartets – my friends in the Atlys quartet (who were also just featured in this magazine!) are amazing.

I think string arranging hits this special sweet spot for me for a couple of reasons. It lets me connect with different groups of musicians, and it lets me integrate my many interests in music. I write songs myself, and have led bands and released solo music. I also love writing music for orchestral instruments and telling stories with sound. I’ve worked as a keyboard player in a wedding band; I’ve written music for TV commercials and short films; I’ve produced songs for other artists. For a long time, I struggled with the breadth of my interests in music – jack of all trades, master of none! – but what I love is that in certain jobs, that weakness becomes a strength. As a string arranger, I get to bridge the gap between the lyricism of a great song and the beauty of these traditional instruments. It’s also just a pretty nerdy job and I like that.

My most recent passion project has been a concert series called “Songwriters & Strings.” I pull together 7-8 artists and ask them each to pick songs for a 10-minute set; then I write string quartet arrangements to accompany them. It’s SO fun for me as an arranger because I get to try a bunch of things I wouldn’t otherwise do, and I get to curate the night as a fan/audience member as much as anything. Just before the pandemic, we were about to announce the first New York concert in the series, which was planned for April – canceled, obviously. I cannot wait until live shows come back and we can pick up where we left off.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
This year has been a challenge! For all of us, of course. And I’ve had some personal challenges along with the societal ones. Right before the pandemic hit, I was diagnosed with testicular cancer. My treatment was relatively simple and I’m so grateful to be healthy again, but that sure added to the challenges of 2020. I was lucky to be surrounded by love and support from my friends and family.

And I really, really miss live music shows, don’t you? But again, I have to count my blessings. Through all this I’ve been lucky to have an amazing teaching job with an online learning company called HDpiano, so I’m still able to work and support myself despite the obliteration of the live music scene.

Can you give our readers some background on your music?
With my string arrangements, I want to deepen the emotional power of a song. I come to arranging as a lover of songs first, a composer second.

I start on a new song by listening through and writing out all the lyrics by hand so that I can get inside it as if I were the songwriter. Then I usually draft the overall arc of the arrangement on a walk while I listen to the demo in headphones. I don’t want to get bogged down in technical details until I’ve thought deeply about why the song speaks to me.

It’s so fun making beautiful instrumental textures with a group like a string quartet – they’ve got some crazy tricks up their sleeves, and I’m still just beginning to learn what’s possible. However, you can take a really gorgeous piece of string quartet writing, put it in the wrong place in a song, and all you’ve done is deflate the impact of the lyric. My favorite art is lean. That’s what I look for in my arrangements.

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Image Credit:
Hannah Arista

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