Music Arrangement Tips & Tricks

Music Arrangement

Putting together a bunch of sounds and arranging them into a song can be challenging for a lot of people. In this tutorial I would like to share some music arrangement tips that will help you get the listeners glued to their stereo.

A lot of people have come up with different ways to arrange music, but if you listen carefully you’ll realize they follow a certain pattern. It’s always good to come up with something original but you don’t need to reinvent the wheel or create weird arrangements that will get people wondering what’s going on.

If it’s different then it should at least give the listener a WOW moment.

I’ve seen a lot of people sleeping in a Cinema, and sometimes you can’t blame them. But I’ve never seen anyone sleep while watching a James Bond movie, The Transporter or Fast & Furious. Then I asked myself why, and I realized all these movies have a great introduction that will keep you glued to your seat to see what’s next.

They give you great action at the beginning of the movie while the other movies keep you waiting for the story line to make sense till you fall asleep. But if you give people great action from the beginning they stay for more.

Does This Apply To Music Arrangement?

Yes it does, some music arrangements just keep you waiting for something to come in. Whereby the whole song sounds like an intro, it’s too repetitive. Then there’s those who just make the song unnecessarily long.

When you use a catchy introduction make sure you don’t give them everything then have nothing for the rest of the song. The intro should be a teaser or preview of what they should expect, always save the best for last.

Some people will say their songs are not repetitive simply because they have a good intro, verse, chorus and maybe a middle-8 or breakdown. Yet if you listen carefully then you realize the instrumentation on the 1st verse is the same on the 2nd verse. Same goes with the chorus parts.

So if your listener knows what’s coming next 1st time they hear the song they’ll get bored. That is why movies have those surprising and unexpected moments, they work and keep you excited. Now, let’s take a look at how you can make good arrangements that will make the listener find your song exciting every time they listen to it.

Music Arrangement Techniques

The 1st thing you’re going to need is a catchy introduction for your song. You don’t have to use all your sounds for this part, just enough to keep the listener interested. That is why some people would prefer to start with the chorus part of the song.

For me, arrangement depends on how many verse parts I have. If it’s only 2 verse parts then I know it’s going to be easy. If it’s 3 verses then that means more instrumentation and creativity.

2 Verse Arrangement Tricks

If I have 2 verses then I’ll create a strong intro that leads to the 1st verse. On the 1st verse I’ll have 2 or 3 backings for the vocal with fewer instrumentation but still keeping the song interesting. Same thing applies to the 1st chorus.

When you go to your 2nd verse you’ll need to drop some sounds from the chorus but the trick is to leave 1 sound from the chorus playing on the 2nd verse. A lot of people use a shaker or hi-hat for this.

For instance, they’ll have a hi-hat playing in the intro and 1st verse then introduce a shaker and other sounds in the chorus. When they drop the other sounds to lead to the 2nd verse they leave the shaker going to make the 2nd verse different and a bit bigger than the 1st verse.

Now because you’ve saved some sounds for your 2nd chorus then on the 8th bar (half way to the chorus) of your 2nd verse, introduce one sound from the 1st chorus. This will keep your song interesting and avoid making your music sounding like a loop.

Some people even change the drum pattern just for that part then have a bridge that leads to the 2nd chorus. For the vocals, add more backings and freestyle adlibs as compared to the 1st verse.

Same with the chorus, you want the 2nd chorus to sound full and more energetic than any other previous part of the song. After the 2nd chorus you can choose to go to a break-down or use a middle-8 to give them a different feel of the song then go to the 3rd chorus.

Others, like me, choose to add a solo that leads to the 3rd chorus. The 3rd chorus sounds Dope if you keep the main hook and add some freestyle instruments or vocal parts. Just make it different from the other chorus parts and most exciting. Then you can go to your outro and finish the song.

3 Verse Arrangement Tricks

For a song that has 3 verses then you can do the same thing mentioned above but instead of going to the 3rd chorus you then go to the 3rd verse. I would advise you to avoid going straight to the 3rd verse after the 2nd chorus.

That can make your song repetitive and boring. So instead go to a bridge, middle-8 or use a solo after the 2nd chorus. If you choose to use a solo then let it continue playing on the 3rd verse. Remember to add more instrumentation or create a break-down on the 8th bar. Just make sure it doesn’t sound the same as the previous verses.

Some arrangers choose to start with the chorus, then go to the 1st verse, then the 2nd chorus, then the 2nd verse, then the 2nd chorus and finally 3rd verse. They’ll mostly introduce the 2nd chorus sounds in the 8th bar of the 3rd verse and on the chorus part they break-down the song and lead that to the outro.

That’s how you arrange your music to keep your listener glued to the stereo. Even if it’s an instrumental track, listen to it carefully and you’ll realize the same arrangement tricks I shared with you do apply.

If you believe that these arrangement tips wont work for the music you are producing then you’ll need to do some research. Listen to what your favorite producers are doing and replicated.

The key to a good arrangement is to avoid repetition and keep the song interesting. Remember to spice up your arrangement by using automation and effects such as flanger, phaser, delay etc.

I really hope you found the tutorial useful, see you again tomorrow with another tutorial. Remember to send me tutorial requests by using the contact page on the top menu bar.

3 thoughts on “Music Arrangement Tips & Tricks”

  1. wow, I love this.
    though I do live sound and this seems more easier with studio recording, I m going to give it a shot n make it happen.
    thanks this was really helpful.

    I don’t v a music background but this is somfin I can try.

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