First Principles

Nonlinearity of path.

Nonlinearity of path.

If you’re reading this page, it’s a safe bet that you’re looking for some knowledge about how to arrange for a cappella effectively. The information you’ll find here is perfect for those who have a basic understanding of music theory, but aren’t sure how to apply it to the art of building a vocal composition. We’ve broken the sections up to be deliberately non-linear so that one can skip to sections in which they’re interested without having to dig through information they’d rather pass up. However, if you do read them all back-to-back, we’re confident that you’ll develop enough of a working framework to piece together an effective arrangement.

Before we get started, I’d like to call out the fact that we’re going to operate under a few assumptions in this guide. First off, we are going to assume that you have a rudimentary grasp of basic musical terms – “key,” “tonic,” “downbeat,” etc. Second, we’re going to assume that you have a sharp enough ear to pick out notes if you’re transcribing directly from a sound file (although we’ll probably be giving some suggestions about how to do this better as well). And finally, we are working under the assumption that you only want to create arrangements that are the most effective, unique, and meaningful that they can be. For the first two, we suggest taking Music Theory 101 at your local university and then coming back. For the third, we suggest you be awesome.


If you feel that you already know most of the information in this section, we suggest you move on to the Advanced Explorations section. Or, to learn by example, check out the Deconstructed Arrangements section.

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I’ve been looking for this

Written By Simon on February 6th, 2013 @ 1:50 pm

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