The Role of the Arranger

Music arranger

The ‘Arranger’ adapts a piece of music into an order that enhances the subject and pleases the listener. That includes backing vocalists who work out their own vocal arrangement, to the specific art of orchestral arranging known as ‘Orchestration’.

The arranger may also be a Composer adding fresh material to the piece like counter melodies on voice or instruments and extra lines or words that enhance the melody and lyrical content.

With the advent of computers, samplers and synthesizers more people are writing and arranging their own songs, but for singers who just wish to perform, an arranger means the difference between a unique song created to fit your own style and a shop bought arrangement which is performed exactly the same way by a thousand other singers.

For instance: You have a piece of music which really suits your voice, it is ideal for use as an audition piece – except – it’s too long, the song needs adjusting so that the feel and major sections that show off the voice to its maximum effect are retained. An arranger can work with the singer to re-organise the song to fit a format that keeps the style and feel required, whilst shortening the length of the song to one that is more suitable for auditions.

Several songs can be organised into fast paced medleys to whip up an audience, adapted for use as duets or transposed to a more suitable key for the singers range. Most songs can be re-arranged, adding an extra chorus or extending an instrumental break is common practice with many bands, but when a singer who uses musical arrangements to perform with an accompanist or ‘house band‘ it is essential that the written music reflects the singers style with suitable ‘parts’ supplied to each musician.

As well as custom arrangements, the singer can purchase pre-written arrangements from orchestration companies. These supply a wide range of classical to modern standard songs in various keys which include separate parts for drums, bass, guitar, piano, lead and backing vocals plus strings, brass, wind and percussion where appropriate.  Purchasing a ready made ‘orchestration’ is cheaper than paying an arranger to supply a custom made arrangement, however, it will not be unique to you which is why you pay less!

Producers and music directors of major television, film and recording studios also employ arrangers and composers for a wide variety of projects, including arrangement, orchestration, music beds and song composition.

Finding an arranger
We have provided a few listings to individual arrangers, composers & orchestration companies, plus arrangers listings sites, composers organisations and other sites of interest to composers and arrangers, but there are several options you can also try below.

  • Ask your singing teacher for their recommendations.
  • Read or place classified ads in trade newspapers and magazines.
  • Look in the Yellow Pages or other Business Directory.
  • Visit local music shops and check out their noticeboard.
  • Browse musicians wanted/available ads on music websites.
  • Search on the internet by inputting the keyword ‘music arranger’ in any search engine.