Arranging for Co-Ed Groups: Range and Voicing

Range appreciation.

Range appreciation.

Boys and girls, high and low, with every voice specialized like a well-run machine…ahh. Hopefully the group you’re arranging for is already balanced in terms of boys and girls, but make sure you know when you’re making a custom arrangement. It would blow if you wrote a SSAATTB part for a group that has no true sopranos. Well, it wouldn’t quite blow, but there goes your Friday night plans so you can re-arrange it before the deadline.

Let’s assume things are fine, and you have a quasi-balanced group. Let’s also assume you’re making a generic arrangement, rather than a custom one (a lot of the same principles will apply, though). How do you balance voice parts, how do you use voice registers to the best of their ability, and how do you keep things fun for the altos?

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