music composer
music composer music composition techniques cubase tutorials music essays reviews contact

writing melodies tips 1 to 3 counter-melodies & chorus/verse melodies tips 4 to 6
melodic intervals & leaps tips 7 to 9

Song Structures
basic song structure examples repeated verse and AABA
pop song structures verse/chorus & bridge
pre chorus song structures verse/prechorus/chorus bridge & coda structures

Music Arranging
orchestration & midi arranging tips 1 - 3
recording & arranging tips tips 4 - 6
more music arranging tips tips 7 - 10

Becoming a composer how to become a composer tips one to five
how to become a composer tips six through to ten
how to make a demo CD tips on making and marketing your showreel

Tuitionin composing music production schools reviews of some top music production colleges in the USA how to choose a music school factors to consider when choosing where to study music composition lessons a check-list for subjects to study within music composition


music arranging tips



part two - tips 4 - 6


4. Time and distance


If it’s your own work that you are arranging, I do NOT recommend beginning to arrange it after just writing the composition or song. This is because it’s very important that the fundamentals of the musical material are right – the melodies, harmonies, rhythms etc. I usually try to leave at least a week before starting to arrange. This way I can come back to the idea with “fresh ears” and hopefully a measure of objectivity and assess if the song is any good or not! Remember that it (nearly always) takes longer to arrange a piece of music than it does to compose one, so it’s worth getting the fundamentals right. I know from experience that it can be very time consuming to re-arrange a work because the composition of a section is not working and needs re-writing.


5. Switching the registers

This is a useful arranging technique for creating drama in a musical episode. It consists of playing a theme (already previously heard) up an octave (or doubled two octaves above), usually on a different instrument. For example, we might hear a vocal melody repeated later in the song on violins, playing in octaves (or with violins two octaves above and violas one octave above). This device can also be used at the same time as the vocal, to give it more strength and body. In instrumental works, I sometimes flick main themes into bass instruments such as the double bass or bassoon. This can give the melody a more menacing, darker edge.


6. Layering the Parts

Laying is a very common trick in recording and can be used on pretty much any instrument or vocal part. It’s usually used to strengthen the sound of the instrument and increase it’s “weight” in the mix. An example of laying would be by recording a rhythmic acoustic guitar part, and panning it over to the left. Next, we record the same thing again, this time panning it to the right. The result provides a much “fatter” sound than just one guitar on it’s own. Other examples would be in doubling the bass by adding another bass sound (on a different bass instrument) at an octave lower than the original one. Sometimes I “thicken” piano parts by adding octaves and fifths an octave higher. At other times I copy the original piano part, strip it of it’s thirds ( e.g. take the “E” out of a C major chord) and play the same thing on a different piano (often on a electric one). Remember to never just copy a part and play it twice on the same instrument in a computer because this will create an unpleasant “phasing” sound.



Further Reading:-

orchestration techniques (arranging tips part 1)

In case you missed it, here's the first of the three pages on arranging music. Featuring five techniques I use when it comes to orchestration, and a look at how the feel of an orchestral section can be created in a recording by using midi synths (VST plugins) and a small number of musicians.

music arranging techniques - part 3

Tips 7 through to 10 on this series of pages looking at arranging principles within music. This page has tips on how to be aware of the "energy level" of your piece, and considers devices that achieve rhythmic and musical cohesion.

structures in popular song

Looking at the verse-chorus form in song (with reference to Elton John's "Candle in the Wind") and the more complex verse-chorus-bridge structure, found in Coldplay's "Fix You". A bridge (or "breakdown") usually serves as a contrast to the rest of the material, and can be different in terms of harmonic change (the rate that the chords change e.g. every half bar rather than every beat), or rhythmic or melodic change.

steve reich different trains

An in-depth analysis of the American composers 1988 classic "Different Trains". Reich uses speech samples taken from interviews and tranforms them so that they create the backbone of the rhythms and melodies of the work.



music arranging tips p.1 - p.2 - p.3


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