Previous: 5. Plan your counterpoints.

6. Action: Map song sections for the instruments.

Ingredients: The instruments, the layout of the song.

Explanation: A song is a story. It is not only told with words and melody, but by its instrumentation. There must be a certain arc to create a story musically. It can't be all loud, unless you have a specific reason for that.

Here's how to map a song. Lay a sheet of paper horizontally and create a table. Draw a horizontal line near the top, and a vertical line near the left side. Above the top line, write the song layout. Draw vertical lines all the way down the paper to separate the sections of the song. Make these wide enough to write detailed comments below each section. To the left of the vertical line, list the instruments. Draw horizontal lines under each one across the paper to create boxes. In these boxes, you will write the symbols determining what that instrument will play at that particular section. Use as many sheets as you need to cover the entire song.

Now, prepare to use the following symbols:

R equals rhythm.

M equals melody support.

H equals harmony.

CP equals counterpoint.

P equals pad, and

X equals don't play.

Put all of these symbols in the appropriate boxes to indicate what instruments will play what parts, and when. In some cases, like drums, it's either going to be rhythm or nothing. Feel free to add your own specific comments to the chart, such as " drum hits on quarter notes."

Here's a song map example:

Instrument Intro Verse Refrain 1st half Refrain 2nd half
Piano M R R M
Pads P X P CP
Bass X Comes in 2nd part R R
Drums X with bass R R fuller
Choir X H H CP

Result: You have a strong song map, and know what instrument will play which part and where.


Next: 7. Arranging drums and bass.



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