Step 2 - Arranging
ar⋅range [uh-reynj] verb, -ranged, -rang⋅ing.
4. Music. To adapt (a composition) for a particular style of
performance by voices or instruments.
Once you have determined your melody, what instrument will perform
it? If your composition has lyrics, will they be sung by a boy, a girl, a
duet, or a trio? What style is your song? Will there be percussion?
What sort of percussion; hand drums, electronic drums or drum set?
How about your harmonies, chords or bass lines; will your song
incorporate any of those things? What instruments will perform those
The arranging step is when all of these decisions are made.
In the Johnson Recording Method; Arranging must occur here, must be completed, and must be understood by the people involved
in your project before you can continue. Although, it does not have to be set in stone. As you continue executing this recording
method, you will be faced with decisions about location and room tone, microphones, travel and personnel, etc. You must know
what types of instruments you are recording in order to make those decisions. Then, once you are in session, you can change what
you want. Although, you will not be able to add a harmonica, if you do not have access to a harmonica player. Also, when you
change an instrument later in the process, you typically re-do every step in between. You will have to consider your budget and
deadline. So you want to get your arrangement as close to perfect as possible (the first time).
Style and instrumentation is the same thing...
When performing together, professional musicians rely upon each other's
general understanding of different styles and feels. Every style of music
has its own set of rules, and this is what allows unrehearsed groups to
start together, end together, and transition between sections of a chart
smoothly. These rules also allow musicians to play the same song in a
variety of styles. These rules, however, do not apply when music is
categorized in a record store.
The listener’s appreciation of style revolves entirely around ‘the sound’.
Simply put; it ain’t jazz because the groove is a medium swing, or
because there’s a walking bass line and a hihat on 2 and 4. From the
listener’s point of view, it is jazz because there is a piano and saxophone.
So, in the commercial music world, the arrangement determines a
recording’s classification, not the composition.
Is the retail categorization of your recording important to you? If so, you simply need to listen to the instrumentation used in most of the
recordings in that category. You have not created a budget or project scope outline at this point, so you may still need to do a little
forward thinking about the amount of time and money you will have when you start recording. For example, if your budget is $300.00,
hiring a symphony orchestra is not very realistic. Also, if you are dealing with manuscript, you may need to transpose parts depending
on the players and their instruments (e.g. if your horn player plays an E-flat trumpet, you will need to transpose C to an E-flat on that
players sheet music). If you are dealing with complex arrangements and you have no experience with arranging, you can hire a
Beat Makers and Hip hop guys...
If you composed your music with midi; choosing patches for your midi sequencer to trigger will be your way of arranging. If your song
does not contain lyrics, it does not really make sense to sequence out the beat for 4 minutes or to record the beat into your editing
software to start looping. Melody and lyrics are the primary parts of a composition. By stretching the beat out over time, you are
creating song form with no melody. That is why most of you get stuck afterwards and then try to sell a recording of your beat online.
If you have created a basic loop, and you do not have a melody or lyrics, now is the time to start writing them. If you are not a lyricist,
now is the time to find one. If your objective is only to make beats, you might as well move on to the next one because the song form is
probably going to change to suit the melody anyway.
If you are a vocalist or lyricist, and you are looking for a beat to put behind your vocals; choosing a beat would be your way of
arranging. Suppose you have a great hook that belongs on top of a basic Hip-hop beat or break beat at 90bpm (beats per minute). If you
pair yourself with a beat maker who uses midi, they will be able to adjust all of their beats to the desired tempo and key to suit your
hook. However, if you go online looking for prerecorded beats, you will not be able to adjust them.
The professional way of finding a beat to rap or sing over is to visit a beat maker's studio, and to listen to short loops until you find the
right one. Then you adjust the key and tempo to whatever suits your song the best. And then, you sequence out the song form. Finding
a beat maker is easy, they are everywhere.