Arranging Music

Arranging Music

Postby squire758 » Tue Jun 13, 2006 2:27 pm

I have all kinds of songs written and all kinds of fruitful material, but I seem to have a lot of trouble actually arranging the music. I know the whole verse-chorus-verse crap but how do I get more complex arrangements like Scarlet Begonias or You Enjoy Myself where it has intresting transitions and cohesive sections and stuff? I have looked all around on the internet and in bookstores, but there is'nt really any resources on the topic of arranging. If anyone could do me the world's biggest favor and send me a link or a name of a book, or anything from personal experience that would be greatly appreciated. I want my music to be more intresting than the same old verse-chorus template. thanks for any help!
Posts: 149
Joined: Tue May 09, 2006 11:15 am

Postby HawaiianDedhed » Tue Jun 13, 2006 4:03 pm

Add a bridge. Maybe make it an instrumental jam in an unrelated key. Find clever ways to get into then out of it and back smoothly into verse or chorus.

Just a thought. It really is dizzy with possibilites.
Ice Cream!
Ice Cream!
Posts: 112
Joined: Mon Mar 06, 2006 6:47 pm

Postby shakedown_04092 » Wed Jun 14, 2006 11:20 am

Know your modes, know the notes of the key you are playing in. For example, if you have a song written in A, the chords that make up the A Major Scale are:

I: A
ii: Bm
iii: C#m
V: E
vi: F#m
vii: G#dim
VIII: A (again).

This is the Do, Re, Me, Fa, So, La, Ti, Do scale. So if you have a song written in A, all those chords above are available to you and are in the Key of A. Do you know how to play tha major scale on guitar? If not, learn how to, and once you do, whatever key you are in, you will know what chords are available to you in that key. Of course, it doesn't end there, but that's an easy way to start.

Also, if you want to mix it up, you can add sevenths to these chords. The one (I) and five (V), which in this case are A & E, can be made into major sevenths (Amaj7 & Emaj7...the chord in Eyes), the fourth (IV), which in this case is D, can be made into a dominant seventh (D7), and all three minor chords, being the second (ii), the third (iii), and the sixth (vi), can all be made into minor seventh chords (Bm7, C#m7, F#m7).

I hope this helps.

Here is the major scale in A on the guitar:

e --------------------------------
B --------------------------------
G --------------------------------
D -------------------4---6-----7--
A ---------4---5--7---------------
E ---5--7-------------------------

I spaced them out unevenly just so I could put the chords above the actual note; hope it's not confusing.
Play music, expand the mind, inspire...

"We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey" - Japanese poet Kenji Miyazawa

Senior Member
Posts: 1225
Joined: Sun May 22, 2005 11:51 am
Location: Portland, ME

Postby squire758 » Thu Jun 15, 2006 9:19 pm

yea dude that helps, thanks alot
Posts: 149
Joined: Tue May 09, 2006 11:15 am

Postby wisedyes » Fri Jun 16, 2006 9:56 am

A suggestion I would make is to buy yourself a Real Book of jazz standards and songs, and learn how to analyze the compositions. Then steal from the best. Most of those guys from that era were amazing song writers, arrangers, and orchestraters. Look how they do things like cycle through key changes, work the melody lines out with the underlying harmony, how they handled bridges, etc.

There is alot to be said for stealing from others, but knowing how to make it yours, so to speak.
Out of the loop? I didn't know there was a loop!
Magic Hand
Magic Hand
Posts: 480
Joined: Sun Jun 04, 2006 7:10 am
Location: Richmond, VA


Postby lyghtningod » Sun Jun 18, 2006 11:09 pm

Arranging is an art in itself. Think back to the big bands, and they had a position called arranger, just as they had first trumpet, or drums, or second sax.

In an old issue of Jazz Improv, there is a list of the members of a big band. I remember the singer was Bing Crosby. But what stood out was the highest paid people--the rhythm banjo player, and the arranger.

As far as learning about how to do it, listen to songs to learn what others are doing. Also note that the more arranged the song is, the less freedom there is for a jam. If everything has to follow a pattern, there is less room for improv. It's a trade off.

To start off, find a good beginning and an ending to your songs. That will help you sound more professional and experienced. The reason for arranging a song is to create an interest in the audience, to do something unexpected. You want to shake them up from time to time.

One example my guitar teacher does is to create a simple riff in a 12 bar blues. You play that riff through, then go on to someone soloing through the changes, then come back to the riff, play it through, and the next person takes her solo. Then do the riff, and back to the soloing. It sounds cool, it's easy to learn, and it keeps the audience's interest.
Posts: 48
Joined: Fri Dec 30, 2005 12:04 am

Postby Crazy 9.5 Fingers » Mon Jun 19, 2006 6:08 am

Since you mentioned You Enjoy Myself I thought I would say that Trey studied a lot of classical music with a particular interest in Fugues. I have attached a link at the bottom of this reply to the proper definition of this musical term. It is not an easy task to write a song like You Enjoy Myself but there are some things you can try that I have used with a great deal of success. Like someone said before me here, know the key you are in and know your modes and what they sound like. When the Dead added the huge jam in Playin', they all knew they would be going to D Dorian. On a lot of chart sheets I wrote for my band, it states something like "evil jam in A Dorian". For parts a little more orchestrated, such as a PHISH tune, try looping a riff on a Boomerang or a phrase sampler if you can, and then try different root notes, preferably on the bass. You will be amazed at how things begin to take a different shape and sound when you simply change the root note. That will give you a map of what this section can sound like. The best advice is to listen to as many different kinds of music as possible. If you are very into the Dead and Phish, don;t just listen to them, take it further and listen to the guys they listened to. When I hear Freddie King, I can hear those early blues riffs upon which Jerry built his guitar playing.
Last edited by Crazy 9.5 Fingers on Mon Jun 19, 2006 6:10 am, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Crazy 9.5 Fingers
Senior Member
Posts: 777
Joined: Fri Jun 16, 2006 12:14 pm

Postby Crazy 9.5 Fingers » Mon Jun 19, 2006 6:09 am

Oh, here is the link for Fugues.
User avatar
Crazy 9.5 Fingers
Senior Member
Posts: 777
Joined: Fri Jun 16, 2006 12:14 pm

Postby Trystine » Mon Jun 19, 2006 2:08 pm

First off, the book I've been using for a few years is "The Guitar Handbook" by Ralph Denyer. It's got everything you need to know about music theory. Found it on Amazon.

It explains further about chord substition as a means of expression for the rhythm guitarist (sort of what shakedown was talking about). Here's a few examples. Use the progression C-F-G7-C each chord getting four beats.

You can replace the first 2 beats of G7 with Dm7 (built on the note a fifth higher than the root note C)
You can also replace the first 2 beats of G7 with G11.
You could also insert C7 for the last 2 beats of the root chord, throw Dm7 for last 2 beats of F, and G11 for the first 2 beats of G7, and the last C chord stays the same for 4 beats. Here's how the new progression would look. C-C7-F-Dm7-G11-G7-C.

And if I didn't confuse you enough check out this link. ... primer.asp
"Stupid music makes people do stupid things"--Anthony From Bonnaroo
Ice Cream!
Ice Cream!
Posts: 119
Joined: Fri Mar 10, 2006 5:14 am

Postby jahozer » Tue Jun 20, 2006 5:04 pm

all excellent suggestions.
Do internet searches for harmony theory. or just type in music arranging, songwriting, etc.
I think in Think Tank II there is a thread that I posted a songwriters map. I will try to dig up that site which is awesome.
There is big money in arranging, so its no easy task. Some love it, and some hate it. Trey happens to love it.
Information is not knowledge. Knowledge is not wisdom. Wisdom is not beauty. Beauty is not love. Love is not music. Music is the best.- the girl from the bus
Posts: 359
Joined: Tue Sep 14, 2004 2:09 pm

Postby jck_strw » Mon Jul 10, 2006 11:37 am

Trystine wrote:First off, the book I've been using for a few years is "The Guitar Handbook" by Ralph Denyer. It's got everything you need to know about music theory. Found it on Amazon.

Let me add that this is an awesome book. Based on Trystine's suggestion, I picked this up recently and it's packed with info. At first glance it looks like one of your nice, D&K-type picture books, but in reality, it's much, much more than that. I wish this had been the first guitar book I had picked up. It has everything you want to know about scales, modes, harmony, rhythm, theory. Highly recommended. - Tapelist
"Now get back to the stands before I shave off half your mustache and shove it up your left nostril. "
Bad News Bears
User avatar
Senior Member
Posts: 950
Joined: Wed May 12, 2004 5:23 pm
Location: The mountains of Colorado

Return to The Think Tank

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest