A show business paradox

Forgive the indulgent journal entry. The fact is, that if you sing other people’s songs for a living, the jobness of it starts to impinge on the rest of your musical experience. The rest of music is, at least momentarily, slightly less fascinating because your brain doesn’t quite have the void, the hunger for notes […]

Bell Chords in A Cappella

This expands far beyond “Clocks” by Coldplay — thank goodness. Bell chords are used by all kinds of groups in all kinds of different situations, and are not limited to those in which a pop piano accompaniment must be imitated. Let’s take a good look at the different ways these can turn out, and when […]

Arranging for Women’s Voices Stepwise

FAQ Style, everyone’s favorite! How do I get started? Figure out the key, time signature, and how many staves you want. Listen to the general structure of the song so you get a feel for the arc of the entire song, as well as the important themes. Jot that down, be you at a keyboard […]

Using Basslines in A Cappella

If you were to imagine the simplest arrangement possible for an accompaniment to a soloist, what would you think of? Well, let’s say it’s one other person — that’s simple. What would they sing? Harmony? Backup vocals? Some combination of all of these? What if you lived in a world such as ours where chords […]

OddMusic.com: Listen to Strange Instruments!

Here’s a great site to browse: OddMusic.com.  In it, there’s a fantastic collection of strange, rare, and experimental musical instruments!  Try out the moodswinger: Strange and interesting stuff here!

Midnight Ramblers sing Army by Ben Folds

I’ve stumbled across a really excellent performance by a spirited a cappella group with an arrangement that really caught my eye.  Of all the others of this song I could find (save the Stereotypes), this is the only one that was particularly entertaining: If you can see this, then you might need a Flash Player […]

Arranging for Small Groups 2: Consovowels and Suggestion

“Wait, what?  What’s a Consovowel?  What are you suggesting?” Well, a consovowel is a syllable, quite simply.  Or perhaps it’s every sound you hear at any given point.  Or perhaps it’s the sum total of the arrangement.  Really, I’m trying to make the point that consonants and vowels are fundamentally different beasts (we’re ignoring nasals […]

Arranging for Small Groups 1: Introduction

If history is any indicator, a great many new aspiring arrangers are members of newer groups with fewer members than the large swaggering a cappella groups that resemble a small construction team on a government contract, only slower-moving.  In fact, I would wager there’s a reasonable chance that you personally are a member of one […]

Before You Arrange All-Female A Cappella

While arranging music for any a cappella group requires  musical sensibility–not necessarily training, but sensibility–arranging music for an all-female group requires particular dexterity. It is a socially challenging activity, especially at an 18% Greek liberal arts school when you’re asking hot, cool girls to sing nonsense syllables. More often than not, collegiate a cappella groups […]

Case Study: Subdivision, Basslines, and Memory in “Get Ready”

This case study is on subdivision in parts, both within the bass and the upper voices. Additionally, we’ll touch on a few other techniques, such as accommodating vocal backup parts within your arrangement, changing the feel of a tune, and arranging from memory instead of from a recording. Let’s shall, yes? The tune of the […]