There are several interpretations of the word “arrangement”. In the Soviet methodology, it meant transferring finished music to another performing staff, for example, from a piano to a four-voice choir, from a vocal duet to a trombone duet with balalaika. When the subject of instrumentation begins at a music school, students begin to get confused – how is the arrangement different from instrumentation? Another interpretation is variation, i.e. approximately the same changes as when composing variations: changes in tempo, rhythm, size, style. At the same time, significant changes are often made to the author’s melody.
The arrangement can go so far that it completely replaces the original music with another one that is not even consonant with the original – but still remains an arrangement, because the image, thought, emotion is preserved – in a word, something unique for this composition
For example, Elegy. “Elegy” – my very first work in MIDI is the processing of the V. Kalinnikov choir of the same name. “The flying ridge is thinning the clouds … etc.” This is an example of maximum interference with the author’s text. From the choir there was no rhythm, no genre, no style, not even the melody itself. Only at the climax does the pipe hold a piece of the original theme – especially for reminder. In short, only form, tonality and the most general harmonic plan remained from Kalinnikov – and even that is in a lot of “jazzed” harmonization. Nevertheless, who knows the choir itself, always recognizes it – it is tested …
So, let’s immediately agree on what and how we will name it. Shifting music to another performing staff, with minimal interference with the musical material itself, is instrumentation. Instrumentation combined with acoustic mixing of the sound anew, that is, not only writing notes, but also directing is a remix, “remixing”. Using someone else’s music as an insert in your own is a quote. The same use, but under your own name is plagiarism. Immediately make a reservation, this is not necessarily theft, because other people’s tunes or tricks often penetrate your music unknowingly, it seems to you that you composed it yourself, understand? This is plagiarism. Varying is a rethinking of someone else’s melody, a hint of it, maybe a parody, transferring it to the sphere of another style or era, changing the tempo or rhythm. Harmonization is the repainting of a melody due to other chords. The simple, artistically unjustified addition of rattles to Bach has no name. Let not strictly respected authors who use this technique on our site, in particular, judge me. I promise that I will prove my words.
Let’s agree to consider the whole complex of these changes as an arrangement, plus those that are completely forgotten and which I will mention. An arrangement is any rethinking or re-arrangement of musical material – but within the limits of recognition of the original.
For example, listen to “Variety Artist” – an example of such minimal interference in the notes of the author that it can even be considered not an arrangement, but rather, an interpretation. Changed the pace, charm. If you remember, at Joplin this reg-time sounds as if awkward, limping. I have an extravaganza of joy, a different mood. Arranging the image, not the notes. It was written exclusively with the mouse, as evidence that the computer is also able to expressively perform emotional subtleties, and in order to test its ideas about the physiology of sound production on the piano. (I apologize for being too scientific) Almost without interfering with the original, the “charm” has been changed a lot – this is not an example of an arrangement based on respect, “love” for the author!
As you can see, the concept is very vague, but still it is. It is almost a composer. After all, a true composer composes only one thought, one melody or even a motive, everything else rests on his ability to arrange, arrange this idea. And you will see that the arrangement is capable of making anything – anything, everything rests on it.
So you can safely assume that you intend to be a composer. What do you need in your luggage for such work? Yes, almost everything.
1. Understanding the task. You must know exactly why you decided to make an arrangement. No, I do not mean to whom you are going to sell it, or on what equipment it will have to be executed. I mean, you want to bring something new to the music. Whether you help this author, whether the music will become better, whether you want to add a different meaning to it, or if you are trying to adapt it to other conditions – WHY did you need to do this. And it will be clearer to you what means should be used, what should be avoided. And if your work is poorer (figuratively, psychologically, spiritually) than the original – do not start it at all. In general, it would be nice to know how the author will react to your attempt. You are still subordinate to him, aren’t you? You need to be all the more careful if you cannot ask his opinions. For example, if the author is in the best of the worlds.
2. Knowledge of style. You need to know exactly what the style of the music you are going to process and the music you want to receive is.