This new course provides a practical overview of the various elements that go into crafting a compelling song arrangement. Whether orchestrating for chamber ensemble, big band or acoustic guitar and voice, the arranging choices we make impact the listener’s perception of a piece of music and can either help or hinder the listening experience. Through the exploration of arranging techniques applied to numerous musical settings, students gain a set of tools and listening skills to help make better writing choices. The goal of this course is to assist arrangers in embracing a song’s intrinsic qualities, providing methods for amplifying its effect on the listener.
Nahuel Bronzini – Arranging for Songwriters
COURSE TITLE: Arranging for Songwriters
COURSE PREREQUISITES: Music Theory – Tonal Harmony.
REQUIRED READING/MATERIALS: None.
A song’s intrinsic qualities.
We will decipher the internal characteristics of different songs and discuss what are the key components that make them sound like such, and different from others. Through discussion and critical listening we will gather the different pieces that capture our attention in a song, and that we might want to draw from at the time of crafting an arrangement.
What is an arrangement? When, what to and how to not overwrite.
We will discuss form as a defining factor at the time of writing and deciding when to introduce a new idea, texture or element to a song.
Melody vs harmony.
In this meeting we will explore the possibilities of single voice writing and the harmonic implications that note and range choices can have when writing a new part to a song.
As we keep adding melodic voices to our arranging, the textures and possibilities start to further and expand to new horizons. In this meeting we will explore different approaches and examine some typical case scenarios and application. Parallel vs non-parallel motion, closeness and separation between voices and other variables will be explained and discussed.
Consonance and dissonance.
We will explore these concepts and how they come into play at the time of arranging. Are these notions arbitrary, or are they inherent in the physics and psychology of sound and music?
A review of western classical music voice leading and harmonic considerations.
Voice leading scenarios in popular music and how those relate to the classical music legacy.
Three and four-part writing.
In this meeting we will expand on the textures we created with our 2 voice writing and see how additional notes can help us create new sounds and motion. Different approaches and techniques will be discussed and we will experiment with practical exercises in class.
Selection of song and arrangement idea.
Each student will share a song (can be their own or another artist’s) for which they want to write an arrangement. Together we will discuss possible instrumentation and considerations regarding range, timbre and structure of the piece. By the end of the meeting each student should have a rough outline to begin working on the song’s arrangement.
This will be a good chance to share the progress of the arrangement so far and ask questions about the course of the work. Peer feedback will be encouraged but sharing work publicly won’t be mandatory. The idea is to get a fresh point of view on an in-progress work and being able to take feedback constructively and as an opportunity for self-improvement.
Arrangement listening and critique.
For the final meeting we will listen to the different arrangements the students have composed and we will offer feedback to each other. The idea here is to listen to our own music through someone else’s ears and get a different perspective on the story we are trying to tell with our music.
Nahuel Bronzini (arranging)
B.M. San Francisco Conservatory of Music, jazz studies at Escuela de Música Contemporánea and classical guitar at Conservatorio J.J. Castro (Argentina). Active music producer and arranger in the Bay Area music scene, having worked with groups and artists such as Tony Toni Toné!, Magik Magik Orchestra, Diana Gameros, D’Wayne Wiggins and Kendra McKinley. Board member for the Recording Academy SF Chapter and Committee member for AES SF Chapter. Nahuel works out of Airship Laboratories Studios in Richmond, CA.
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