What is arranging?
An arrangement is an adaptation of pre-existing music to fit a particular need. It is usually in the form of sheet music. An arranger takes a song (or even just a melody) and creates something new using a variety of tools, sometimes changing the musical style (jazz, rock, pop), or perhaps using different instruments. An arranger can weave one song into another one, all while providing a smooth background. Arranging skills offer flexibility to a project, especially on a limited budget.
Once, I was working as an arranger and an orchestrator for an opera project, “Flying High.” The director needed about 2 minutes of additional music to play over a scene change. He asked me to create some music using some of the musical themes that the composer Graham Preskett had written. Here are the “raw” themes (melodies and chords) I used. You’ll hear three of them:
So I took these themes, added an introduction, worked out the transitions from one theme to another, expanded it from piano to full orchestra, and included a brief homage to George Gershwin! Due to a limited budget, I also had to sequence everything, so this is a “fake” computer orchestra you’re hearing. Here’s my arrangement: