Gates Thomas


Gates Thomas on SoundBetter

World-class arranger and orchestrator — if you're looking for that "classic sound", I have it in spades, with style and finesse. Jazz, classical, R&B, Brazilian, for any instrumentation — strings, brass, woodwinds, rhythm, electronics. I'm skilled at both paper/pencil scoring and the recorded realm, and can work very quickly if needed.

My arrangements and productions are characterized by creativity, clarity, and completeness, which derive from solid technique and well-trained, analytic ears. Consider choosing me for your project especially if your music requires a command of musical subtleties or a rich tonal palette.

Most projects I undertake for clients are variations on one of these areas:

• Creating scores and parts in Sibelius for ensemble works, and bringing them alive with players
• Mockups, sweetening, vocal group stacks
• Editing for comps, cleanups, time sync, etc.

My website is full of samples that show the breadth of styles in my writing.

Click the 'Contact' above to get in touch. Looking forward to hearing from you.


  • English
  • French
  • Portuguese
  • Spanish

Interview with Gates Thomas

  1. Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?

  2. A: Writers: Jason Kay (Jamiroquai), Me'shell N'degeocello, J.P. "Bluey" Maunick, Herbie Hancock, Gil Evans, Jeremy Lubbock, Maurice Ravel, Alberto Ginastera, Júlio Medaglia, Rogério Duprat. Claus Ogerman's sound is a bit too sweet for my taste, but I admire his technique and economy and I can nail that sound when called for.

  3. Q: What are you working on at the moment?

  4. A: An original cantata for jazz orchestra and choir, several short pieces for solo voice and chamber orchestra, an orchestral reduction of "Rhapsody In Blue", and a number of big band arrangements.

  5. Q: Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?

  6. A: Genevieve Tabby and her sister Sabrina Tabby are outstanding musicians (cello and violin) and total professionals at remote recording.

  7. Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?

  8. A: I studied composition/arranging, violin and voice at Northwestern University and Berklee College of Music, and have been on the Contemporary Writing and Production faculty at Berklee since 2010.

  9. Q: How would you describe your style?

  10. A: My writing doesn't have a "style" so much as a "sound" or "touch". This comes out in the way I shape an arrangement, the instrumental/sonic choices I make, the musical effects or harmonic language I use, etc. Depending on the needs of the project, I might either bring out these qualities, or suppress them. Many client-based projects don't call for an identifiable sound in the background, so for those projects my goal is to be a chameleon and simply blend in with the piece; the "style" I use in this work is whatever the piece requires. For my own work: I like the "kitchen sink" approach of taking from all those different styles and using them wherever they're appropriate.

  11. Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?

  12. A: Jamiroquai, Me'shell N'dgeocello, Herbie Hancock, Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, J.P. "Bluey" Maunick, Carlinhos Brown... All of these musicians have great musicality and aesthetic, and their sounds form a basis for my own.

  13. Q: What type of music do you usually work on?

  14. A: My favorite styles are jazz, MPB, classical and R&B, but I like any music with interesting melody, harmony, texture. I like going back and forth between genres because it keeps me from getting stale.

  15. Q: What's your strongest skill?

  16. A: Creative orchestration/arrangement comes naturally to me, particularly the aesthetic of ensemble color, balance and blend. My scores and parts are clean, clear, and efficient. I can also bring out the best in the musicians as conductor, particularly when time is of the essence.

  17. Q: What do you bring to a song?

  18. A: Many years of listening and study to a wide variety of writers have given me a broad musical context, and the ability to pick apart and emulate sounds that are unfamiliar to me.

  19. Q: What's your typical work process?

  20. A: My process really depends on the project; some start all the way back at the germ of the idea that needs to be worked out first on score paper. Other projects come to me as demos or partially-completed tracks where I'm expected to add my bit or do my part to tidy up the track. Sometimes I'm on board a project from beginning to end — other times I'm only around for a part of the process.

  21. Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.

  22. A: I bounce between "writing" projects (composition, arranging, orchestration, conducting) and "production" projects (creating mock ups, sweetening, studio recording, editing, mixing, etc.). Many projects incorporate both, and I walk the client through all phases. I'm also am experienced session vocalist (I prefer background singing) and I'm fluent in Brazilian Portuguese.

Davenport Blues (comp. Bix Beiderbecke)

I was the Arranger, Orchestrator, Conductor, Producer in this production

Terms Of Service

Scoring/arranging/orchestration: pricing and turnaround time depends on duration and number of instruments/tracks. Two rounds of revisions included — additional revisions in certain circumstances.

GenresSounds Like
  • Duke Ellington
  • Pat Metheny Group
  • Caetano Veloso e Gilberto Gil
Gear Highlights
  • Logic Pro X
  • ProTools
  • Sibelius
More Photos
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