I recently wrote an arrangement of Burt Bacharach & Hal David's "A House Is Not A Home," to be performed by Steven Cuevas at Broadway Barkada's annual So This Is Love Valentine's Day concert. I can't remember exactly how we decided that he should sing this song or that I should arrange it; I think it was one of those things where we were talking about it enough that it just became assumed that I would write this song for him.
As is my usual m.o., I procrastinated a lot and didn't finish the song until 2 days before the performance. (In my defense, it was a difficult song for me to get my head and ears around, so it took longer than usual. And I was being lazy.) Between the lateness of this song and all of the other work that Steven was doing as the music director/pianist/arranger for that evening's concert, we decided that I should play piano for him. (Thus marking - can you believe it - the first time I played piano publicly in New York City.)
Below is an excerpt of Steven & I performing the song last week, at the Cutting Room in NYC. We are planning on making a new recording in the very near future, which I will also post here.
I've long felt that this is one of the weirdest - but also prettiest and most heartfelt - of Bacharach's popular songs. I knew from the beginning that I wanted to do something different from the other versions out there: Dionne Warwick, Barbra Streisand, Glee ... My arrangement ended up being influenced by Lawrence Hobgood's arrangement on Kurt Elling's 1619 Broadway album. My version, though, should be treated more like a lied and less as an opportunity for improvisation or riffing. I usually allow for some liberties in my pop arrangements. That's the style, and the singer and rhythm section should have that flexibility. Here, though, I want things performed as they are. I took care to get the exact rhythms and pitches (and yes - I know they differ from the original melody.) As I mentioned above, the song was tricky for me to figure out. The phrasing is uneven - more than usual as far as Bacharach is concerned - and the melody is odd. The harmonic structure itself isn't that different or difficult, but I wanted to make sure the chord's extensions and substitutions throughout were just right.
The arrangement is available to download. It gets a little high towards the end, after the key change. If you want, I would gladly transpose the song for you. As always, I would enjoy hearing from you if you perform this at some point.