#1
Hey there MT,

I was wondering if any of you had any advice on arranging a musical piece(For example: Pat Metheny's "Minuano") for any type of ensemble. I've been trying to do this for a while, but I could definitely use any tips any of you may have.

Thanks in advance.

(Note: It's not limited strictly to pieces played by wind instruments. I would also be interested in arranging songs such as Iron Maiden's "Mother Russia.")
I think it's time for a change.



Sig v5.0 (approximate)
#2
You might have to change the key to something more friendly for the ensemble. A wind ensemble will hate you if you give them something in A major, they'd much prefer Ab or Bb major.
#3
When I arrange a piece, I will first take it to it's most basic form (like a chord chart), and then slowly add the other instrument's parts upon it. Identifying a genre in which you would like to arrange it, and the most important features that make that song unique helps because you'll want to emphasise those parts to keep the character of the original song in the new arrangement of it.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
#4
Quote by pwrmax
You might have to change the key to something more friendly for the ensemble. A wind ensemble will hate you if you give them something in A major, they'd much prefer Ab or Bb major.

Haha, my school's concert band has played in A major before. (Our concert band is the lowest level band, as opposed to the most advanced; our Wind Ensemble. I am actually a part of both.)

The key's not so important, so long as it's not in something like G# minor.
I think it's time for a change.



Sig v5.0 (approximate)
Last edited by §ArmyofAngels§ at Sep 6, 2009,
#5
You really need to take into note the range and skill of each instrument/musician.
Also get used to transposing (you'll do a lot of it) and tweaking things.

I suggest trying something a little easier at first. Maybe like Jaws or something. I started with Jaws for a D.Bass, viola, and violin. This was hard enough for my first piece. Getting used to bass clef and alto clef took a little while.

Also take into consideration how much work each instrument needs to do. It is much easier for a clarinet to play fast and accurately than it is a trumpet.

Skill level of the players is also very important. If you have people who have only been playing for a year or two, you don't want them to have to switch from their lowest note to altissimo too much.

Most importantly: tone. Each instrument has such a different tone, sometimes they don't quite mix. Pay attention to this. Especially if you are mixing something like brass and strings. What is usually a consonant interval may tend to sound a little more dissonant if two very different tones are mixed together. Of course, you could work this to your advantage.

post some more specific questions, it's easier for us to assess where you're already at.

Quote by §ArmyofAngels§


The key's not so important, so long as it's not in something like G# minor.

I find key is very important when I am arranging for our school concert band. A lot of the people there are beginners. They don't like a lot of sharps or flats. It is a good idea to stay around concert Bb. Traditionally horns don't tend to like sharps either. While strings prefer them to flats.
Last edited by mdwallin at Sep 6, 2009,
#6
Quote by mdwallin

post some more specific questions, it's easier for us to assess where you're already at.

Well, my school has 4 bands, the concert, symphonic, and wind ensemble, as well as the jazz ensemble.

These are, in order, beginner, intermediate, advanced. Jazz is something very different. There are players of all skill levels in there.

There are no string instruments, aside from a stand-up bass.

What I was planning on doing is arranging Led Zeppelin's "The Rain Song" for the jazz ensemble. It's a standard 17-piece jazz band, though our director doesn't mind adding extra players. They're actually quite good, and have played in key signatures with a lot of flats, though they prefer staying in the range of A-Eb major.

17 piece jazz band means 5 saxes, 5 trombones, 4 trumpets. and rhythm section, though last year we had about 7 trumpets, 10 saxes, and 8 trombones.

Also, I'm proficient in bass and treble clef.

Is that what you meant?
I think it's time for a change.



Sig v5.0 (approximate)
#7
^^^

Looking at the song you want to do
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HpLe-qUUGIE
I would have a lot of fun arranging that!

Is it possible to bring a clarinet in? Or maybe a soprano sax?

At the moment I'm picturing the trumpets doing the top soprano parts, saxes doing the chords (harmonised). Trombone I would have holding long notes.

When vocals start, I'd use the alto saxes as the vocals, trumpets holding the notes behind.

Guitar melody, I'd give to the trumpets. That delay that starts at about 3:00 of that video above, I'd give to the alto maybe tenor saxes. I think that would sound really awesome if played very high by the alto and really low on the tenor. Unless your trombonists are really good I'd keep them on those long sustained notes that the strings usually have. It is hard to get brass really tight, especially with ranging skill levels, and with an instrument with no frets/keys.

Those bits where it is really soft, toward the end. I'd put your guitar and maybe just one other instrument.

If you are the guitarist, I'd really make myself shine and play all the lead bits throughout the song. Except at the start, where you are really going to need either your guitar, or a really good horn player going very high. To get those crisp notes.


That's how I interpreted it. It'd be awesome if you could bring in some strings, but having experience at my own school, It can be hard to find willing people.

Your drummer is a lucky man. That will definitely show off his versatility if he does it well.
#9
Quote by mdwallin
^^^

Looking at the song you want to do
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HpLe-qUUGIE
I would have a lot of fun arranging that!

Is it possible to bring a clarinet in? Or maybe a soprano sax?

At the moment I'm picturing the trumpets doing the top soprano parts, saxes doing the chords (harmonised). Trombone I would have holding long notes.

When vocals start, I'd use the alto saxes as the vocals, trumpets holding the notes behind.

Guitar melody, I'd give to the trumpets. That delay that starts at about 3:00 of that video above, I'd give to the alto maybe tenor saxes. I think that would sound really awesome if played very high by the alto and really low on the tenor. Unless your trombonists are really good I'd keep them on those long sustained notes that the strings usually have. It is hard to get brass really tight, especially with ranging skill levels, and with an instrument with no frets/keys.

Those bits where it is really soft, toward the end. I'd put your guitar and maybe just one other instrument.

If you are the guitarist, I'd really make myself shine and play all the lead bits throughout the song. Except at the start, where you are really going to need either your guitar, or a really good horn player going very high. To get those crisp notes.


That's how I interpreted it. It'd be awesome if you could bring in some strings, but having experience at my own school, It can be hard to find willing people.

Your drummer is a lucky man. That will definitely show off his versatility if he does it well.

Hm, that's a good idea.

And some of the trombones are pretty good, and some are alright, so I was thinking, long notes for third parts, and maybe seconds, and something else for firsts.

And at the start, I actually did make the high part a trumpet solo. We have an instructor who is also a jazz soloist, so maybe he'd be interested in doing that. Although some of our trumpet players could probably do it as well. They could last year.

But yeah, those are some good ideas, I'll definitely give those a shot. Thanks

And we don't have any sopranos, although I'm sure we could find a clarinet, I know one person in the band who plays tenor sax and clarinet..
I think it's time for a change.



Sig v5.0 (approximate)
#10
Quote by kerpus
not to hijack but what is arranging in a song?

arranging is to choose what instruments play what parts. to choose where a chorus is, where a verse is. Basically make a cover version of a song, but for a different amount of instruments, or totally different instruments altogether.

For example, you could say. I am going to write an arrangement of happy birthday. I will make it for a cello, viola, and a violin. I will arrange it in a way where instead fo there being one repetition of this part, there will be 6 and each instrument will have 2 goes at it... blah blah blah

Basically changing a song to suit your purpose.

Quote by §ArmyofAngels§

But yeah, those are some good ideas, I'll definitely give those a shot. Thanks


No worries, I love arranging pieces for bands like the one you described. If you get a recording of them it would be AWESOME to hear it

Quote by §ArmyofAngels§

And we don't have any sopranos, although I'm sure we could find a clarinet, I know one person in the band who plays tenor sax and clarinet..

Clarinet will do just as well, if not better
It's just harder to find a clarinet player that is very enthusiastic. I know at my school, majority of the clarinet players only play it because there were no more spots for sax left.

(except me, I love clarinet)
Last edited by mdwallin at Sep 11, 2009,