are lots of ways to get to Rome. Some prefer to arrange songs on the
fly, just playing and singing and experimenting. If that's your
approach, terrific. The method I propose is more detailed, and requires
patience and time. Each of the steps can be a good day's work. The end
result will be an arrangement which is polished, dynamic, and
A good song is a good story. That is my operating principle for music arranging and composing. A story keeps the listener interested, thinking about
what each event means, wondering what will happen next. You want your
listeners to stop and wonder as you take them on a musical journey.
By the way, going back to arrangements, a good song arrangement makes the music SOUND better, even if the recording quality isn't professional.
Ultimately, music can be created brilliantly if the arrangement is
compelling and uses a storytelling approach. With these two elements
together, you are on your way to a great song.
This is not only accomplished by the composition -- words and melody -- but by the three keys of music arranging:
Arc of energy.
If a song has only one energy level and flavor, it gets tired very
fast, the story has been killed. The best songs build to a climax, then
may drop for an interlude, and build again to the finale. That is
interesting, that is dynamic.
Counterpoint and drama.
Counterpoints are secondary melodies. They have their own internal
flow, but complement, support or " dialogue" with the main melody. Counterpoints can be used most effectively at the ends of phrases. They
become a sort of " answer" to what the melody just stated, creating a musical dialogue.
There are lots of great ways to keep each moment and section fresh. It
might be as simple as changing one note in the lead melody, or as
complicated as using an entirely different rhythm. Textural changes,
varying chords, adding breaks, fills, tempo changes all keep it alive.
If you do it well, you can come back home at the end of the song with
the original feel. But that original feel will itself be fresh, just
like it feels to come home after an exhilarating journey.
Good luck on your music arranging! Here are the steps. Click for the details.