Interval exercises

If I asked you to measure the distance between two objects, you could reply with a variety of valid responses- Feet and inches Meters Paces Cubits Smoots (Anyone from MIT?) Well, the same can go for the aural distance between two notes- A number of pitches Several notches Steps and skips These musical units of […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Arranging for Co-Ed Groups: Range and Voicing

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 […]

Stealing is great

The best way to get better at your craft is study the work of others and practice. And steal. There was a whole phase in contemporary music when quoting famous pieces was in vogue. The art of “mashup” is when your material is, essentially, other people’s stuff (plug for Girl Talk; I never danced harder […]

Arranging for Co-ed groups, Introduction

If you’re lucky enough to scrabble together a handful of boys and girls to hold productive rehearsals amidst incredible sexual tension, creating unique and engaging arrangements are going to be a piece of cake. Co-ed groups not only have the advantages of a ready pool of datable singers, but the vocal range and palette of […]