As long as I have enough time outside of my day job, I'm trying to put together (arrange) more music to perform live, but I'm heading in two directions.
Not too many folks outside of pro musicians and avid music hobbyists are aware of what modern keyboards do, or actually have been able to do for years.
(1) Replicate the original sounds of the original instruments.
Modern synths do an incredible job and improve with every coming year. At the moment, on my Roland Juno DI, I probably have around 5 flutes, 4 string basses, a dozen saxophones, and about 30 electric piano sounds (Fender Rhodes, Wurlitzers, etc). I can pretty much replicate an entire orchestra or come close to sounding like a 5 piece rock band.
This is pretty much the approach I took on Unforgettable, keeping it a jazz standard with piano, strings, and sax (click here).
(2) Replace and improve upon the song with new sounds, or completely different sounds.
Modern synths can go above and beyond conventional sounds, why not take something that you've heard before and turn it into something completely unexpected? I took a couple of existing MIDI files of the song "Higher Ground", originally by Stevie Wonder and a cover version of the tune by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I completely ripped out the original instruments and inserted purely synthetic sounds and now it sounds entirely different (click here).
A few weeks later, on a lark, one of my friends suggested performing "I Am The Walrus" . On my own, I took an arrangement, again one that was staying near and true to the original instrumentation of the Beatles and turned it into a dance/techno version (click here).
Where to go?
You tell me. It's fun to go either way, I've had a few performances of arrangements done in original instruments and more done as all synths. When I performed at weddings years ago, it was much more amazing to sound like an orchestra than it was to sound like "just another keyboard".
This time around, I still want to arrange stuff that folks will recognize but sit back and say, "Gee, I've never heard it that way before and it sounds cool."
One of the things I'm working on is taking some jazz trio arrangements and turning them into modern synth-pop pieces.