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Saturday, November 5, 2016

Tips on how to arrange a song 1/2





Hello and welcome to this week's article!
Today, moving on with our songwriting articles, we are going to give a general overview on how pop/rock songs are arranged.

Let's start by saying that this article doesn't want by any mean to be considered complete, it is just intended to give an overview of the various schools of thought that are applied when arranging a song.
The definition of arrangement is "the art of giving an existing melody (or base) musical variety".
This means all and nothing: in our case the meaning is that once we have decided the structure of a song and the basic chords, we can lay down (arrange) the layers of instruments that will be the content of the song.
Imagine the structure of a song like in its fundamental parts as a stage: the arrangement are the dancers that dance into that stage (for example a vocal verse, a guitar solo, a piano interlude).

What is essential when arranging is the Vision. If we don't have clear the direction of our song, there is no point in writing it, because it will come out unfocused: we need to know in advance for example the mood of the song: melancholic, triumphant, happy, angry, etc, then we need to have in mind the atmosphere and the feelings we want to transpose to the listener and with what and how many sounds, finally we need to lay down a list with the instruments we will need for our song.

Jack White of the White Stripes (and other bands) had a strict rule about songwriting, he "always centered the band around the number three. Everything was vocals, guitar and drums or vocals, piano and drums", meaning that for every element he wanted to add he had to take out another one from playing at the same time, because he knows that the less elements are there, the more they sound "big" and important in the arrangement.

On the other hand we have symphonic rock bands like Muse, which (like Queen) likes to stack up on some song a huge amount of vocal harmonizations and orchestrations, and the examples could be countless if we would go furthermore into the symphonic declinations of heavy metal such as Blind Guardian and Fleshgod Apocalypse: in these cases the number of tracks in the project can be even around 500 or 1000, and unavoidably the weight of each single track on the total would be hundreds of times smaller than one of the three elements of the White Stripes song.

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