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 […]

Staff, clefs, notes, and rests

To start off the Music Theory section of SmarterMusic, I’ve written the first article in the Fundamentals land: Staffs, Clefs, Notes, and Rests. It is a brief introduction to the most basic music symbols and how they tell us neat things. If you have no music training or you chose to drift into a coma […]

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 […]

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. […]

Arranger’s Toolbox: Vocal Percussion

“Guh, chicka chicka tss” “Doof, tepuh kss” “Pfft dubba dubba, kcha” It’s a fallacy that drums noises are reserved to just drums, just as vocal percussion is limited to the vocal percussionist. If you can speak, you can do VP, and if you’re writing arrangements for people who can speak…well, everyone can be a drum […]

Techno remixes- the next frontier of satire

For those who aren’t up and savvy with their Christian Bale celebrity gossip, our recent Batman was caught on tape verbally beheading some poor dude on the set of Terminator 4. Just a heads up…it’s pretty much just strong language. Here’s the original rant, which was followed by a techno remix, R&B/Club remix, and my […]

A brief Quick’n’Dirty 10-step Arranging guide

So maybe you don’t want to peruse the multitude of articles right now, and you just want fast and easy directions of how to do an a cappella arrangement. Will do, but here’s the caveat- this is just one way of going about an arrangement. I would recommend reading the other articles on this website […]