'Tell me about Arrangement' (Questions)

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Eski
Posts: 43
Joined: 06 Oct 2016

Post 01 Nov 2019

I'm a typical candidate for spending a night or two creating an 8 to 16 bar loop that sounds great, I may then spend another night happily tweak and jam with it, then I'll lose interest and move onto a fresh track.

Hoping I can grab some inspiration/tips from other reason users with view to changing my ways and actually getting some shit finished & moving onto the arrangement side of things more often.

Here’s some questions, if you have time - thanks

1. What genre do you normal go for?

2. Do you enjoy arranging your track?

3. On average how long do you spend arranging a track once you have riffs/beat patterns and sound pattete in place?

4. Do you normally reach a clear and definite point when you know it’s time to start arranging the track?

5. Do you set a time limit on yourself, as to how long you will spend arranging?

6. Do you strictly, avoid sound tweaking/mixing during arrangement time?

7. Do you usually have a set length and idea in your head of how the track will progress before you start to lay it down
in the sequencer or do you use the force ?

8. Do you have a set routine, i.e.. lay beats down first, move onto bass or move outward from a layered 8 bar loop etc.. ?

9. Does anyone jam it out freestyle, using combinators/ players etc.. then go back and edit / perfect?

10. Do you usually reach a point where you are happy to leave the arrangement where it is and move on?

11. Do you ever go back to an old unfinished idea and manage to pull a finished track out of it?

Any other tips much appreciated.


Cheers

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moggadeet
Posts: 31
Joined: 27 Jun 2018

Post 01 Nov 2019

1. What genre do you normal go for?

Kizomba

2. Do you enjoy arranging your track?

Yes I do, once I am set up for it

3. On average how long do you spend arranging a track once you have riffs/beat patterns and sound pattete in place?

1 hour

4. Do you normally reach a clear and definite point when you know it’s time to start arranging the track?

Yes, once I have drum patterns ready, harmony and enough melodies to carry the track.

5. Do you set a time limit on yourself, as to how long you will spend arranging?

No

6. Do you strictly, avoid sound tweaking/mixing during arrangement time?

I compose and arrange using ID8 and F2 EQ.

7. Do you usually have a set length and idea in your head of how the track will progress before you start to lay it down
in the sequencer or do you use the force ?

No, if the melodic elements carry the track long enough, that is it.

8. Do you have a set routine, i.e.. lay beats down first, move onto bass or move outward from a layered 8 bar loop etc.. ?

I avoid laying beats first, since I learnt that I am more creative when starting with harmonies - melodies.

10. Do you usually reach a point where you are happy to leave the arrangement where it is and move on?

Yes, when the piece has a dramatic arc I am done.

11. Do you ever go back to an old unfinished idea and manage to pull a finished track out of it?

Very seldom, I feel more inspired by new ideas than by old ones I did not finish in the past. Sometimes I can finish a new track in one day and make it a hit, I never had that success with revisiting old ones.

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NekujaK
Posts: 612
Joined: 09 Oct 2016
Location: USA

Post 01 Nov 2019

I can't answer all those questions right now, but I do have an arranging tip/technique that can help turn a 8 or 16-bar loop into a full song arrangement, fairly easily. It goes something like this:

Once the core idea of your loop is established, just start layering more and more parts onto it. Get creative and throw the kitchen sink at the loop - add more drums, pads, melody lines, rhythms, sound fx, strange instruments, etc... Don't be critical or judgmental at this point - you just want to get lots and lots more stuff added to your loop. Some of the parts may not even sound good when played together. Don't worry about that at this stage.

Now, once you have this monster loop that's overloaded with lots of tracks, you're ready to lay out your arrangement. Copy the entire loop a bunch of times on the sequencer, then start at the beginning and selectively remove (or mute) parts from the first iteration of the loop. When you're ready, move to the next loop segment and do the same, and so on down the rest of the timeline. As you proceed thru the song, keep enabling and disabling parts until you get an arrangement that builds and flows from beginning to end

At some point you may even be inspired to insert a new breakdown or bridge section. And of course, as the arrangement develops, you may want to tweak some of the parts to create more variety.

What makes this method fun and effective is that you're doing most of the creative composing up front, then once you switch to arranging mode, you're no longer burdened with the task of having to constantly come up with new ideas. That's why there are professional composers and professional arrangers - it's two separate functions. But the arranger can't do his job until the composer finishes his.

This is certainly not the only way to write and arrange a song, but I find that when I've come up with a cool loop but have no idea what to do with it, this technique usually enables me to expand it into a song fairly quickly and painlessly.
Last edited by NekujaK on 01 Nov 2019, edited 1 time in total.
wreaking havoc with :reason: since 2.5

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motuscott
Posts: 1616
Joined: 16 Jan 2015
Location: the new york

Post 01 Nov 2019

Cool method NekujaK
Is blocks involved?
Sometimes a cigar is just a synth that's on fire

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NekujaK
Posts: 612
Joined: 09 Oct 2016
Location: USA

Post 01 Nov 2019

motuscott wrote:
01 Nov 2019
Cool method NekujaK
Is blocks involved?
I'm not a big fan of Blocks - just doesn't fit with my workflow style. But I don't see why Blocks couldn't be used with this technique, if that's someone's preferred method.

Whatever gets you to the finish line! :P
wreaking havoc with :reason: since 2.5

xboix
Posts: 80
Joined: 22 Oct 2019

Post 01 Nov 2019

On that second night force yourself to "finish" the track. Intro, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, middle 8, chorus, lifted chorus, outro.
Even if some of those sections are crap, just f do it.
Then move on and make a better song.

WarStar
Posts: 43
Joined: 17 Oct 2018

Post 01 Nov 2019

1. What genre do you normal go for?

Usually hip-hop or electro rock


2. Do you enjoy arranging your track?

Most of the time but usually for me arrangement comes with the time I put in composing and writing. So I'm usually able to get my ideas down during the writing process while also figuring out a rough arrangement too.
So I do enjoy it because I only move to arrangement after I've scratched padded all my ideas for that song so it's exciting to see it come together. Probably more typical of purely software produced music.

3. On average how long do you spend arranging a track once you have riffs/beat patterns and sound pattete in place?

Just a few minutes really. I use reason as a scratch pad where I'll make a bunch of 8/16 bar parts that aren't connected yet except maybe for drums and bass. Then after I've spent some time writing parts the arrangement just kinda comes together in it's own. Granted sometimes I need to add transitions so there's time spent on that as well. General rule though is if the arrangement doesn't work I don't force I just move in to another song and let the ideas incubate so to speak.

4. Do you normally reach a clear and definite point when you know it’s time to start arranging the track?

Most of the time yes. After I have a few variations in drum patterns, alternate choruses and maybe verses as well and a good solid bridge idea I know I have enough to put it together.

5. Do you set a time limit on yourself, as to how long you will spend arranging?

No. It may take a few minutes or maybe a few weeks. Doesn't matter to me cuz I don't like to force things if at all possible. I'll just wait till the right ideas come to me.

6. Do you strictly, avoid sound tweaking/mixing during arrangement time?

No. But usually my efx, automations, edits and mixing is also done while I'm writing parts for the song.

7. Do you usually have a set length and idea in your head of how the track will progress before you start to lay it down
in the sequencer or do you use the force ?

About half the time I already have a rough idea of the structure of a song. The other half ideas come to me as I'm jamming and goofing with samples I've cut previously.

8. Do you have a set routine, i.e.. lay beats down first, move onto bass or move outward from a layered 8 bar loop etc.. ?

No, but alot of times a sample I've cut will inspire an idea and then it just progresses from there. But more often than not a chorus melody seems to be what comes first for me. Once I get the melody down then I write drum parts from there.

9. Does anyone jam it out freestyle, using combinators/ players etc.. then go back and edit / perfect?

About half the time yes.

10. Do you usually reach a point where you are happy to leave the arrangement where it is and move on?

Yes. Usually from exhaustion lol Seriously though for me it's when everything sounds like how you envisioned it in your mind. Plus when it's right you just know.

11. Do you ever go back to an old unfinished idea and manage to pull a finished track out of it?

Yes.. Several times.

Any other tips much appreciated.

Use a actual note pad and pen or use a notes program in your phone and make a "To-Do" list for each song. Every time you sit down to work on it stick to your list and check mark things off once you've addressed them. Graph paper is helpful for mapping out songs to.

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Eski
Posts: 43
Joined: 06 Oct 2016

Post 03 Nov 2019

Cheers for the response all,

There are some useful comments here to take away and also some good insight into how others think, when it come to arrangement. - much appreciated.

It's now time for me to get on with arranging Sunday track. :)

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selig
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Posts: 8047
Joined: 15 Jan 2015

Post 03 Nov 2019

Bottom line for me, if you'er not ending up with the desired results, look into changing your process.

Like most folks, I've got tons of 8 bar "loops to nowhere" that I can't finish. So over the years I've worked on finding ways to not "go there" in the first place rather than ways to get "beyond" that point. In other words, I have different approaches I use to get me to different destinations.

Building an arrangement from a dense loop doesn't typically work for me, because it's the arrangement I struggle with in the first place. I find it easier to record a long form jam and re-arrange the elements into a better/shorter form than to work the other way around (e.g., extending a loop into a longer form). I guess it's like the difference between additive and subtractive synthesis, or the difference between modeling a sculpture from clay vs chiseling it out of rock.

So when I want to prevent getting stuck into the loop syndrome, I jam it out in long form (even if it's based on an underlying loop). This allows me to create transitions, drops, changes, builds, etc. all as I play (which I flesh out later). An advantage of this approach is that I can sketch the overall arc of a piece more quickly, and then fill in the rest, which is a quicker way for me to get from an initial idea to a long form arrangement.

There is another way to work that's also interesting, a sort of hybrid of loop building and long form jamming which is to create a handful of variations on the loop early on (rather than building on one loop). Then I can create the "long form" version by jamming out an arrangement by triggering different loops in different orders, then build on that form. Either way, there's a lot of jamming and improvising involved, trying to find the most interesting transitions and build orders of the existing parts.
:)
Selig Audio, LLC

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Djstarski
Posts: 287
Joined: 20 Jan 2015

Post 03 Nov 2019

I Would try listening to a track you like the arrangement of and follow the arrangement . Then change parts if you want to that will make the arrangement slightly different .

Listen for the : Drums
bass
vocals
lead
special effects
The roles they play in the track .
also listen for : Intro
verses
pre chorus/hook
chorus/hook
bridge
outro
Basically study other tracks . A great place to start .

i hope this makes sense .

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Eski
Posts: 43
Joined: 06 Oct 2016

Post 05 Nov 2019

Thanks for additional comments, selig and Djstarski

All good pointers to keep in mind and try out. :)

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Benedict
Posts: 1940
Joined: 16 Jan 2015
Location: Gold Coast, Australia

Post Yesterday

Instead of thinking Loops where you endlessly pile on more things, think instead about how your idea can develop over time. Music is, after all, Tone over Time.

Start with an idea that becomes a Scene. Then work out how to put some Story in that scene. Story requires time so you will soon enough find you have an Arrangement appearing.





:-)

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NekujaK
Posts: 612
Joined: 09 Oct 2016
Location: USA

Post Today

Benedict wrote:
Yesterday
Instead of thinking Loops where you endlessly pile on more things, think instead about how your idea can develop over time. Music is, after all, Tone over Time.
This of course, is the recommended way of approaching composition and arrangement. I merely suggested the "piling on" method as a quick and dirty technique to easily turn an orphan loop into a larger composition.

While we all strive to write well-formed music, like it or not, many of us frequently end up with lots of isolated snippets and loops, especially when crafting electronic beat-based music. One very simple approach to turning those loops into something more, is to layer and then subtract. It's not the only way, but it's quick, simple, and gets results.

Would I write an orchestral piece this way, or a song for my band? Heck no. But if I've got a great little 8-bar groove lying around that's got no home, I'm gonna get busy and start layering! ;)
wreaking havoc with :reason: since 2.5

TritoneAddiction
Posts: 1942
Joined: 29 Aug 2015
Location: Sweden

Post Today

I'll ignore most of the questions because I simply don't think about it that way.
I do mostly instrumental electronic music btw.

When I make music I just do what comes to mind in that moment. That could be coming up with a melody, writing a beat, scrolling through patches, tweaking synths, adding FX, mixing, working on structure of the song, even adjusting the master bus.
I often don't do things in any particular order. I just do what feels natural in the moment. If I hear my song needs a cymbal sample I'll fix that. If I hear some annoying frequency that's bugging me I'll look into that. If I hear a part needs a melody I'll do that. etc etc...

For me all these different aspects of my music are so intertwined that it doesn't make sense to me to seperate them in my workflow. They all depend on each other. The song takes form as I go along most of the time.

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