The first tune I am arranging horns for is one of my own, "Bring Your Praise to the King." I originally wrote the song with a swing feel, and the choir parts were rolicking and exhilarating. Two years ago, we did a custom recording with the song included, and our producer dropped the song back to a half time slow hip hop feel. Many of the vocals are the same, but the form changes significantly. In addition, the producer laid down some synth horns in the arrangement that had never been played by real brass.
Synth horns are usually played by keyboard players and in this case, he played parts that are higher than most trumpets play! Typically synth horns are unison lines, too, with a couple of harmony parts that are keyboard oriented.
Real horn arranging is more subtle, more varied, and better articulated. It is fun to write in articulations like staccato, accents, and ties, and hear them played correctly.
Also, pop producers frequently play synth horns in a Vegas style, and I prefer a dry, Steely Dan-style horn section that is closer to Memphis with a little Lee Morgan mixed in.
So yesterday and today I have been sitting at my computer with Finale 2008, arranging horns to go with Christmas tunes. Hundreds of music directors do this kind of thing, but I thank God we can all be working in our own congregations with musicians who love Jesus, and making unique praise offerings that are custom crafted.