World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article


Article Id: WHEBN0000002414
Reproduction Date:

Title: Arrangement  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Big band, Between Two Fires (album), George David Weiss, Sid Ramin, John Paul Jones (musician)
Collection: Arrangement
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


In music, an arrangement is a musical reconceptualization of a previously composed work. It may differ from the original work by means of reharmonization, melodic paraphrasing, orchestration, or development of the formal structure. Arranging differs from orchestration in that the latter process is limited to the assignment of notes to instruments for performance by an orchestra, concert band, or other musical ensemble. Arranging "involves adding compositional techniques, such as new thematic material for introductions, transitions, or modulations, and endings.... Arranging is the art of giving an existing melody musical variety".[1]


  • Classical music 1
  • Popular music 2
  • Jazz 3
  • Arranging for instrumental groups 4
    • Strings 4.1
      • Size of the string section 4.1.1
  • Further reading 5
  • See also 6
  • Notes 7
  • References 8

Classical music

Arrangements and transcriptions of classical and Maurice Ravel.[3]

Due to his lack of expertise in orchestration, the American composer Rhapsody in Blue orchestrated and arranged by Ferde Grofé.[4]

Popular music

Popular music recordings often include parts for brass, string, and other instruments which were added by arrangers and not composed by the original songwriters. Popular music arrangements may also be considered to include new releases of existing songs with a new musical treatment. These changes can include alterations to tempo, meter, key, instrumentation, and other musical elements.

Well-known examples include Joe Cocker's version of the Beatles' "With a Little Help from My Friends" and Ike And Tina Turner's version of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Proud Mary". The American group Vanilla Fudge and British group Yes based their early careers on radical re-arrangements of contemporary hits.[5][6] Bonnie Pointer performed disco and Motown-themed versions of "Heaven Must Have Sent You."[7] Remixes, such as in dance music, can also be considered arrangements.[8]

Though arrangers may contribute substantially to finished musical products, for copyright and royalty purposes, they usually hold no legal claim to their work.[9]


Arrangements for small jazz combos are usually informal, minimal, and uncredited. Larger ensembles generally have had greater requirements for notated arrangements, though the early Count Basie big band is known for its many head arrangements, so called because they were worked out by the players themselves, memorized (in the player's head), and never written down.[10] Most arrangements for big bands, however, were written down and credited to a specific arranger, as with arrangements by Sammy Nestico and Neal Hefti for Count Basie's later big bands.[11]

Don Redman made innovations in jazz arranging as a part of Fletcher Henderson's orchestra in the 1920s. Redman's arrangements introduced a more intricate melodic presentation and soli performances for various sections of the big band.[12] Benny Carter became Henderson's primary arranger in the early 30's, becoming known for his arranging abilities in addition to his previous recognition as a performer.[12] Beginning in 1938, Billy Strayhorn became an arranger of great renown for the Duke Ellington orchestra. Jelly Roll Morton is sometimes considered the earliest jazz arranger. While he toured around the years 1912 to 1915, he wrote down parts to enable "pick-up" bands to perform his compositions.

Big band arrangements are informally called charts. In the swing era they were usually either arrangements of popular songs or they were entirely new compositions.[13] Duke Ellington's and Billy Strayhorn's arrangements for the Duke Ellington big band were usually new compositions, and some of Eddie Sauter's arrangements for the Benny Goodman band and Artie Shaw's arrangements for his own band were new compositions as well. It became more common to arrange sketchy jazz combo compositions for big band after the bop era.[14]

After 1950, the big bands declined in number. However, several bands continued and arrangers provided renowned arrangements. Gil Evans wrote a number of large-ensemble arrangements in the late fifties and early sixties intended for recording sessions only. Other arrangers of note include Vic Schoen, Pete Rugolo, Oliver Nelson, Johnny Richards, Billy May, Thad Jones, Maria Schneider, Bob Brookmeyer, Lou Marini, Nelson Riddle, Ralph Burns, Billy Byers, Gordon Jenkins, Ray Conniff, Henry Mancini, Ray Reach, and Claus Ogerman.

In the 21st century, the Big Band arrangement has made a modest comeback. Gordon Goodwin, Roy Hargrove, and Christian McBride have all rolled out New Big Bands with both original compositions and new arrangements of standard tunes.[15]

Arranging for instrumental groups


The string section is a body of instruments composed of various stringed instruments. By the 19th century orchestral music in Europe had standardized the string section into the following homogeneous instrumental groups: first violins, second violins, violas, cellos, and double basses. The string section in a multi-sectioned orchestra is referred sometimes to as the "string choir."[16]

The harp is also a stringed instrument, but is not a member of or homogeneous with the violin family and is not considered part of the string choir. Samuel Adler classifies the harp as a plucked string instrument in the same category as the guitar (acoustic or electric), mandolin, banjo, or zither.[17] Like the harp these instruments do not belong to the violin family and are not homogeneous with the string choir. In modern arranging these instruments are considered part of the rhythm section. The electric string bass and upright string bass—depending on the circumstance—can be treated by the arranger as either string section or rhythm section instruments.[18]

A group of instruments in which each member plays a unique part—rather than playing in unison with other like instruments—is referred to as a chamber ensemble.[19] A chamber ensemble made up entirely of strings of the violin family is referred to by its size. A string trio consists of three players, a string quartet four, a string quintet five, and so on.

In most circumstances the string section is treated by the arranger as one homogeneous unit and its members are required to play preconceived material rather than improvise.

A string section can be utilized on its own (this is referred to as a string orchestra)[20] or in conjunction with any of the other instrumental sections. More than one string orchestra can be utilized.

A standard string section (vln., vln 2., vla., vcl, cb.) with each section playing unison allows the arranger to create a five-part texture. Often an arranger will divide each violin section in half or thirds to achieve a denser texture. It is possible to carry this division to its logical extreme in which each member of the string section plays his or her own unique part.

Size of the string section

Artistic, budgetary and logistical concerns will determine the size and instrumentation of a string section. The Broadway musical West Side Story, in 1957, was booked into the Winter Garden theater; composer Leonard Bernstein disliked the playing of "house" viola players he would have to use there, and so he chose to leave them out of the show's instrumentation; a benefit was the creation of more space in the pit for an expanded percussion section.[21]

producer and arranger for The Beatles, warns arrangers about the intonation issues when only two like instruments play in unison. "After a string quartet," Martin explains, "I do not think there is a satisfactory sound for strings until one has at least three players on each a rule two stringed instruments together create a slight "beat" which does not give a smooth sound."[22]

While any combination and number of string instruments is possible in a section, a traditional string section sound is achieved with a violin-heavy balance of instruments.

Suggested string section sizes
Reference Author Section size Violins Violas Celli Basses
"Arranged By Nelson Riddle"[23] Nelson Riddle 12 players 8 2 2 0
15 players 9 3 3 0
16 players 10 3 3 0
20 players 12 4 4 0
30 players 18 6 6 0
"The Contemporary Arranger"[24] Don Sebesky 9 players 7 0 2 0
12 players 8 2 2 0
16 players 12 0 4 0
20 players 12 4 4 0

Further reading[25]

Name Author
Inside the score: A detailed analysis of 8 classic jazz ensemble charts by Sammy Nestico, Thad Jones and Bob Brookmeyer Rayburn Wright
Sounds and Scores : A Practical Guide to Professional Orchestration Henry Mancini
The Contemporary Arranger Don Sebesky
The Study Of Orchestration Samuel Adler
Arranged by Nelson Riddle Nelson Riddle
Instrumental Jazz Arranging: A Comprehensive and Practical Guide Mike Tomaro
Modern Jazz Voicings: Arranging for Small and Medium Ensemble Ted Pease, Ken Pullig
Arranging for Large Jazz Ensemble Ted Pease, Dick Lowell
Arranging concepts complete: the ultimate arranging course for today's music Dick Grove
The complete arranger Sammy Nestico

See also


  1. ^ (Corozine 2002, p. 3)
  2. ^ Arrangement, Encyclopedia Britannica online
  3. ^ Partial list of orchestral arrangements to Pictures at an Exhibition
  4. ^ Greenberg, Rodney: George Gershwin, page 66. Phaidon Press, 1998. ISBN 0-7148-3504-8.
  5. ^ Vanilla Fudge covers (classic bands website)
  6. ^ Close To the Edge – The Story of Yes, Chris Welch, Omnibus Press, 1999/2003/2008 pages 33-34
  7. ^ Bonnie Pointer bio (IMDB website)
  8. ^ The Remix Manual: The Art and Science of Dance Music Remixing with Logic, Simon Langford (Elsevier, 2011, ISBN 978-0-240-81458-2) page 47
  9. ^ The Law of Music Arrangement Safford and Baker law firm website
  10. ^ Randel 2002, p. 294
  11. ^ Swing music history and the big bands (Jazz in America website)
  12. ^ a b
  13. ^ Giddins, Gary & Scott DeVeaux (2009). Jazz. New York: W.W. Norton & Co, ISBN 978-0-393-06861-0
  14. ^
  15. ^ "Carrington and Correa Among Jazz Winners" – LATimes Blog, Feb. 2012
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^


  • Kers, Robert de (1944). Harmonie et orchestration pour orchestra de danse. Bruxelles: Éditions musicales C. Bens. vii, 126 p.
  • Kidd, Jim (1987). Unsung Heroes, the Jazz Arrangers, from Don Redman to Sy Oliver: [text with recorded examples for a presentation] Prepared on the Occasion of the 16th Annual Canadian Collectors' Congress, 25 April 1987, Toronto, Ont. Toronto: Canadian Collectors' Congress. Photo-reproduced text ([6] leaves) with audiocassette of recorded illustrative musical examples.
  • Randel, Don Michael (2002). The Harvard Concise Dictionary of Music and Musicians. ISBN 0-674-00978-9.
  • Harry Boyd (2015). "Swag"
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.