Steelpan Arranger

Aquil Arrindell aka Aquil De Caires  - Steelpan Arranger

Aquil Arrindell aka Aquil De Caires

Aquil Arrindell - Cadenza Steel Orchestra, San City Steel Symphony
Panorama Championships
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“I am Aquil Arrindell, music teacher. I am a musician and I am into different aspects of music such as music education, music production, arranging for the steelband and songwriting. Music has become my livelihood. I always aspire to be the best in whatever I do and as music is my life, I have kept my focus on it.

“When I decided to make music my career, the options available were teaching, production and steelband arranging. I decided to become involved in all three to maximize my potential success. I wanted to have options available if any of these ventures were not profitable. I invested in studio equipment and opened Cut Thyme Studio in 2006. I also became a student of the University of the West Indies in 2006 where I studied for the Certificate in Music and after I graduated, I became a teacher in 2009. I was already in steelband arranging; however, I became the captain and arranger of my band in 2000 and I currently hold those positions. They have all worked out for me and I am now trying to amplify my music career through education and public relations.

“My main source of income comes from music education. I am a music teacher attached to four schools in the southeastern district. Teaching children music came naturally to me because of my fondness for children and my passion for music. For these reasons, I plan to remain in the music education field and pursue it to the highest level.

“I was always creative, enjoying drawing, painting, writing poetry, songs and stories but it was a challenge academically. Reading and remembering was a task but this I surmounted. I believe that music helped me with academics and that it is the major contributing factor in my life’s success. I am now trying to give to others the same benefits that were given to me through music education. Music helped me with retaining and thinking mathematically, and it has given me the discipline of striving for perfection. I try to pay a lot of attention to the children I see struggling academically because of my personal experiences. Music was my way out of the darkness of illiteracy and into the light of education. I hope I can bring others like me into that light. My purpose is to reach as many people as possible through music. I have experienced improvement in the quality of my life because of music and I want to share that and offer others the same opportunity. I am currently training students to meet the standard required for them to be marketable in the music industry.

“Although not a major source of income, with Cut Thyme Studio, I keep producing and I see my business growing. As its owner and C.E.O., music producing is a side job, which I do according to when I have clients. Having my own studio is also very convenient for me as it allows me to put down my own compositions the minute I am inspired.

“Music is also the medium with which I can express my creativity. Arranging for the steelband is the field in which I have the most expertise and experience. Though it is not profitable when you take into consideration the amount of time and effort it requires, it is what I am most passionate about. It is within this aspect of music that I developed my skills as a panist, teacher, songwriter and producer. It is also where I can express myself the most musically. There are many motifs I hear, which can only be expressed by a steelband. These motifs would be re-harmonized, go through a series of chord progressions with dynamics, creating different effects to evoke various emotions, stimulating the audience. I aspire to be well-known in this field and that only comes with hard work and perseverance. The overwhelming feeling of accomplishment I get when my work is appreciated by others, keeps me doing what I do.

“There was no official school or handbook that came for the job of creating music for pan. I developed certain beliefs and guidelines, which have shaped my work and me. Beliefs such as clean thoughts and actions, which I practice because if I did not, it would show in the music. Music takes its character mainly from the personality of its creator, although this does not always apply. If one is quiet and subdued, the piece reflects this personality, as with a person who is flamboyant. It is no different if the person is superficial and shallow opposed to someone who is deep and grounded in positivity. Your vibes, your vibrations are manifested in your created work.

Music is very theoretical and has been studied for centuries but I believe it is more spiritual than anything in this world. I think God chooses a select few and if you are not one of them it does not matter how much you study it, you would not be able to create good compositions. To me music is spiritual. Spirituality is also positive and negative energy, good versus evil. Everything is made up of energy, positive and negative. Energy is vibration and music is made up of vibrations organized to make sense to our senses. Music can evoke feelings of happiness, sadness, anger, excitement or even peace and tranquility causing relaxation.

“These feelings can be evoked without words because of these vibrations. Using negative words with negative music can be very dangerous to the state of a society, hence the reason some countries ban artists who sing songs with violent lyrics. I believe musicians must be responsible with what message we put out there on and off the stage.

“My mentor, Mr. Lennox Fortune, taught me the fundamentals and gave me my foundation in music. He taught me the skills to become a good panist but most importantly, he instilled the discipline needed to become a good musician. However, Clive Bradley was my greatest musical influence. I was fortunate to have been taught by him when I first began to arrange. He was well-known for his use of harmony, chords and undetectable modulation. His simplistic style was always popular with the public yet was technical enough to win Panorama. One of the most important lessons he taught me about arranging music was to be open to criticism from everyone because people who only praise your music cannot help you make it better.

In terms of guidelines on composing a piece, I have learned to be open to as much constructive criticism as possible. Anybody with ears and can hear could say to me, ‘I like’ or ‘I don’t like’, because I think the arranger is third in the line of importance. First is your audience. If the general public does not like your work, only you as the arranger, your work is incomplete. Second, if you arrange music your players must have the skill to play it, or if it is too simple and does not challenge the players or they simply do not enjoy playing the piece, then your audience would not enjoy the performance either, therefore making it incomplete. When your audience and players are pleased, you bring your musical composition to that place of self-satisfaction and pride. You still should have your identity and your musical story or painting should say what you want it to say.

“I also relate to music through sight and emotion. Certain musical passages could be called colorful or just black and white. They evoke dark and heavy colors or others that are light and bright. Passages can be sad, angry, happy, thrilling etc. and so, depending on the song, I would know what direction in color and mood I would paint my musical picture in. I enjoy painting pictures with music. Using the right combination of notes and phrases, you could tell any story. With experience, knowing what to use would become easy. I was taught by Clive Bradley that if you are unsure, watch a movie with your theme and listen to the music played by the orchestra when your theme is featured.

There are continuous factors, which keep improving my work. Every work created is evaluated, and I develop on the strengths and get rid of the weaknesses. I personally want to be identified as a unique arranger, someone whose music stands out and does not get lost in the crowd. Hence I always try new musical creations in my pieces. They are certain conventional formats that are being practiced with most arrangers; I try to be among the few who do not arrange in this style. Introducing new ideas is not always seen favorably by adjudicators but are always appreciated by my audience, my players and myself. I believe in what I do and I love it. Music is my life.”


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