First-time arrangements, Third Installment

~I wholeheartedly support all kinds of research that you can do before putting notes to a page. Steal ideas! Save yourself time! Don’t reinvent the wheel with every new arrangement, especially if you’re cutting your teeth for the first time. ~Ostinatos, or repeated bits of music, make teaching and retaining a lot easier…so you should […]

First-Time Arranging Suggestions, Part Deux

As far as first-time arranging tips, I’d advise against taking the basses too low.  Even if they have a solid low E, the chords will ring better with the basses up the octave, and they’ll sing better, too!  The same goes for the low F and frequently the low G as well. If you’re stuck […]

First-Time Arranging Advice

A reader wrote in requesting some pointers on arranging for his high school a cappella group, and I thought I’d post a few here: advice for writing your FIRST arrangement.  These tips do not necessarily apply to ALL arrangements and are not general rules, but are good ways to make sure nothing goes too haywire […]

Fusioncappella

It’s just been stuck in my head lately. Nota, the winners of NBC’s The Sing Off, did an amazing fusion that’s been lodged in my brain of Jay Sean’s “Down”. Watch this: If you can see this, then you might need a Flash Player upgrade or you need to install Flash Player if it’s missing. […]

Arranging Walk-Through: Happy Birthday

In this article, we’ll be going through the motions of arranging a song. Instead of looking at a completed arrangement, we’ll walk through every step of the process to show how an a cappella arrangement evolves and is finally completed. Today, the tune is Happy Birthday, that old standby of yore. Read more…

Non-Traditional Notation

If you went back in time with only your computer, it’s saved internet cache, and a love for a cappella, how would you teach an arrangement if music notation hadn’t been invented? Well, if you’re Guido of Arezzo, you’ll just invent notation and that will be that…or you could utilize some non-traditional notation techniques. Fortunately, […]

Composite Parts

It seems that there isn’t a quick explanation of a composite part on this website…so here’s one! A composite part is when several parts combine to create one effect. Sometimes it’s used to make bell chords or arpeggios, or perhaps you are creating a sustained tone by fading back and forth between two singers. Maybe […]

Non-traditional notation teaser

Something to spur imagination while I’m working on a new part of the arranging guide: Non-traditional notation. While sheet music is super-handy, and provides a common language to communicate music, sometimes people just don’t speak Wookie, and you have to think outside the box. ~How would you write out parts for someone who doesn’t read […]

Oh! You Beautiful Doll

Oh, you’re such a beautiful doll!  This 1911 hit was a wartime favorite that shows how Barbershop harmony, ragtime, and popular music overlapped. [Audio clip: view full post to listen] This is sung by Bill Murray and The American Quartet in 1912.  Fantastic stuff here, very vintage.  It’s hard to imagine this being the height […]

The Art of Song Selection 2: Mechanics and Logistics

While it’s well and good to know what your group is about, who your target audience is, where you want to take the group, and if your 2nd soprano is single, that doesn’t actually pick your songs. This article is geared towards the practicality of picking songs, and several methods with their pros and cons. […]