Sorry, spalding, but as one of the few here that DO hold onto an arranger for MANY, many years (quite possibly longer than perhaps YOUR current arranger), I am in perhaps a better position than you care to admit to judge whether an arranger holds up as a truly creative tool. Yes, I do use my G70 on recording projects, and as my primary tool for ALL live playing, whether with a full band or smaller ensembles. but I have to admit that, as a wellspring of creativity, as a source of inspiration, it falls woefully short compared to say my Kurzweil, or my Triton, or a well crafted set of VSTi's.
If one takes the position that 'creativity' is the desire to create something NEW, arrangers, with their almost TOTAL emphasis on recreating music that is already in existence, their almost total focus on sounds well-worn and their inability to sculpt and shape utterly new sounds (or at least, their inability to match the creative possibilities that TOTL WS's offer) don't really come CLOSE to what other instruments offer for this task.
One could as easily say that the kazoo is as 'creative' an instrument as the arranger is. That no-one has YET achieved this creativity, by your own logic, is no proof that the kazoo is a limited instrument.
That some are getting outraged about my opinion about the general level of creative possibility of this instrument type is proof that some are FAR too invested in their particular tool of choice... Personally, I don't consider that I am an arranger player. Neither am I a WS player. Or a clone-wheel player, or a synth player, or a pianist. I AM A KEYBOARD PLAYER. Each has its' strengths AND weaknesses (no matter how hard some choose to deny that). Some are better at one task, some at another, some are weaker at a particular area. But criticizing the instrument is NOT criticizing the player.
And yes, spalding, you are right... should someone CHOOSE to use the lesser tool as a conduit for their creativity, and show great skill, then there really IS no reason why it COULDN'T be a very creative tool. But so can a kazoo player. That few have even TRIED, let alone succeeded, as far as I am concerned, merely shows that MOST people have got more sense than to pick a crippled tool for a difficult task.
I listen to arranger playback all the time. From my own instrument, to all the web examples I can find. And you know what? Every single machine part I hear, with perhaps the possible exception of the guitar parts (and to a lesser extent, the drums), I go 'I could play that MUCH better!'. Of course, in a realtime environment, I CAN'T play them all, so I have to tolerate them (or play in a live band, which has been my choice for the last couple of years), but the fact that little of it impresses in the slightest compared to a REAL player (at least, a real GOOD player!) shows us just how far this instrument has to go before it even lives up to the task it IS supposed to do.
Even the manufacturers themselves seem to go out of their way to cripple these instruments as a tool for creativity, hobbling them with small, undersized keyboards, cheap tacky keybeds, and inferior sound systems. Not to mention a total emphasis on tying up your LH with the onerous, often repetitive task of simply inputting chord information. I mean, c'mon! What could be more 'creative' than freeing yourself from simple chord entry and allowing you FULL use of both hands?
That the only live tool to accomplish this isn't even on most players' radar of wanted features shows how much we value 'creativity'!
Fact is, I bet I can find something really creative on a kazoo off the web faster than you can find ANYONE doing really creative music on the arranger. And that's all the proof I need...
An arranger is just a tool. What matters is what you build with it..!