The Invisible Artist

Arrangers in Popular Music (1950-2000)
Dr. Richard Niles

Watch THE INVISIBLE ARTIST video by clicking on the link above!

“Richard has done for the art of pop arranging what Alec Wilder did for American Popular Song and Gunther Shuller did for the Swing Era – written THE definitive account that will stand as a text book on the subject. It’s also great fun as well as being informative and eminently readable.” Emmy & BAFTA winner John Altman

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Musical arrangers in pop have been ‘invisible’ since the rock ‘n’ roll era. Largely uncredited, their art is either unseen, undervalued or misunderstood.

Composer, producer, songwriter, educator and BBC broadcaster Niles has been a professional composer, arranger and producer for over 40 years working with stars such as Paul McCartney, Ray Charles, Pat Metheny, Tina Turner, Bob James, Cher, Pet Shop Boys, Kylie Minogue, John Pattitucci and James Brown.

This is the first in-depth study of arrangers in pop analyzing their techniques and revealing their significant contribution to popular music. This insider’s view is an invaluable and unique reference book for musicians and a dramatic and surprising look behind-the-scenes for music lovers.


Unique interviews with some of the most significant arrangers of our time including Arif Mardin, H.B. Barnum, Harold Battiste, David van DePitte, Richard Carpenter, Barry Manilow, Nile Rodgers, Jeremy Lubbock, Jimmy Haskell, Fred Wesley, Pee Wee Ellis, Charlie Calello, Bobby Martin, Michael Gibbs, Rupert Holmes, Anne Dudley, John Altman and Nick Ingman.

Profiles and analysis of the life and work of Jesse Stone, Maxwell Davis, Dave Bartholomew, George Martin, Jack Nitzsche, Brian Wilson, Burt Bacharach, Paul Riser, Thom Bell, James Brown, Sammy Lowe

Contributions from Don Was, Jerry Wexler, Harry Weinger, Allan Slutsky, Trevor Horn, Steve Anderson, Andrew Love (The Memphis Horns) and Bobby Eli (MFSB).

222 musical examples transcribed by the author and analysis of hit recordings by the Clovers, Fats Domino, Etta James, Tina Turner, Gladys Knight, Aretha Franklin, Dionne Warwick, The Beach Boys, Motown, The Beatles, Marvin Gaye, The Carpenters, Chic, Simon and Garfunkel, James Brown, Laura Nyro, Elton John, Sting, Joni Mitchell, Barbra Streisand, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, ABC, The Art of Noise, Julia Fordham.

Transcriptions and analysis of Niles’s own work with Paul McCartney, James Brown, Sarah Brightman, Swing Out Sister, Grace Jones, Tears For Fears, Pet Shop Boys.


“Absolutely loved the book – beautifully written and brilliantly researched – the chapter on Jeremy Lubbock in particular – highly recommended to musicians and producers out there.”
Steve Anderson – Producer and Musical Director for Kylie Minogue

“Richard Niles has assembled a wonderful book, providing a unique perspective on the often unknown and misunderstood role of the arranger in contemporary music production. Filled with history, useful musical examples, and interesting anecdotes, this is a must read for anyone interested in a career in writing and production.”
Matthew Nicholl – Chair Contemporary Writing & Production,
Berklee College of Music

“One of pop’s top arrangers, not only does Niles know what he’s talking about,
he imparts his knowledge with clarity and certainty. When you are talking musical pedagogy, Richard Niles is the daddy”
Chris Campling – The Times

“Niles pushes ear and imagination to encompass the workings of other people’s minds.
A host of arranger’s techniques.”
Gillian Reynolds – The Daily Telegraph

“I just finished your excellent book. It’s great. And so informative! I’ve been listening to music forever, but now with different ears. For the first time I am paying proper attention to the arrangements, and with a new respect for that art form.”
Mike Metheny – jazz trumpet player & composer

“The book brings out into the open the stories of those who were just as responsible for delivering great music as any of the artists. In some cases, the arranger had a greater part to play in turning a mundane song into a good one, and a good one into a great one. There are examples from the 1950s (the dawn of the rock and roll age) through to the 1990s, with an interesting cross section drawn from several musical styles and genres. An important addition to any music library, The Invisible Artist is an excellent introduction to the art and craft of an arranger.”
Graham Betts – author

“A great book with hundreds of pages of transcriptions and stories of our greatest hits. An important document addressing the reality of arrangers and arranging and what they have meant to popular music.”
Harry Allen – broadcaster WBAI radio “Nonfiction”

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Dr. Niles is available for lectures or masterclasses.

2 thoughts on “The Invisible Artist

  1. Pingback: An Issue on “Arranging and The Royalty” | Kerrisdale Playbook

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