Michael Moyes is a Student Advisor at Berkleemusic.com. He finished his studies at Baylor University, where he studied Piano Performance and Business. Michael has performed Piano as a soloist, in a combo, and accompanied by full Orchestra. He is currently working towards his Master Certificate in Arranging and Orchestration from Berkleemusic. You can hear some of Michael’s music on the Berklee Music Network.
Let’s say you have been working on an arrangement or an original piece. You have all the notes down but something is missing. If you’re arrangement doesn’t catch your interest and hold it, then you can be sure it won’t hold the interest of publishers, teachers, girlfriends, boyfriends, pets, or most important, paying fans.
Does your arrangement really hold your interest? This is the first question you want to address when critiquing your work. If you find yourself falling asleep at first listen, never fear! We can help you break it down.
Here are some questions I got from the Arranging 1: Rhythm Section course which helped me improve my arrangements drastically!
- Do you like your intro?
- Does it draw you into the tune the way you wanted it to?
- Do you like the first eight measures of your “A” section?
- Did you make any variations in the following eight bars of your “B” section?
- If not, are you really happy with hearing the same exact thing again, if the music repeats here?
- If you’re doing a song, and you have a transitional bridge next, is it really effective moving into the chorus?
- Do you feel you’ve achieved a climactic point in the chorus?
- Do you feel that your arrangement overall has effective ebbs and flows—an “emotional contour?”
- Do you really like your ending?
- Is there any part in the arrangement where you get bored and want to be hearing the next section already?
Here is an assignment I worked on in this course. I have included the “before” version—
—and the “final” version which was recorded after going through these questions.
Beyond changing some of the samples and slowing the piece down, I made some variations in the B section, built on the transitional bridge, added a unison chorus with a descending bass line, and wrapped up with a bluegrass “tag” ending. All in all, this arrangement holds my attention more than the first one.
Although much could still be improved, this process plus feedback from my instructor Sarah Brindell and my peers helped a great deal!
What do you think?
Berkleemusic’s online summer term begins June 28, 2010.
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