Production and Philosophy: 3 tips to understand what a musical arrangement is

What is a musical arrangement?

There are no stupid questions, and especially this one

The definition:

In simple words (and in my experience) an arrangement is the process that takes us to an official version of a composition. In particular, I can talk about songs because, I have re-arranged more songs than instrumental pieces.

The arrangements can appear after the composition, both from the composer himself, or an arranger, or a producer (in the case of pop music). However, arrangements sometimes appear in the composer’s imagination as a part of the composition itself; even so, the original arrangement may not be the last one; this is usually something that the producer or the recording label decides it.

The philosophy:

I fervently believe that the musical experience, both creative and interpretative, is a very important factor when we talk about arrangements. The technical-musical decisions are subjective, so the most appropriate position which I can speak is from the experience and my vision of the music. For the same reason, what I am going to express below may not be consistent with what other professionals think; it is not my intention to deny the validity of different thoughts, so (with all due respect) I will state what I believe and do in musical terms according to the arrangements.

Two things you must consider to align with my position:

-The music for me is EVERYTHING.

- So: I take the concept of music, its study and its application with absolute seriousness. However, I do not see music as just a technical deployment. Like "fine arts", music implies a combination of feelings, values or ideas.

As an independent composer, my philosophy regarding the choice of tools to use to arrange a song is based on honesty according to the musical imagination or "inner voice". I think that the more the arrangement is aligned with the inner ear and it is consistent with the tools that emanate from it, the more solid it is.

Consistency is very important, so the balance between technique, knowledge and the ability to make music identifying in each place as being consistent is part of what is expected of a music professional.

As a composer by order and arranger, I think it is essential to know the style, its aesthetics, rules (which actually come from the same style) and its limits. With this in mind, you can contribute, both by respecting the "traditional" style school or breaking the rules. My general position is to respect the styles when someone asks me for a work oriented in a particular style. There are musicians who dedicate their entire lives to master a particular musical "language" (this is what is called in Spanish when a musician studies the aesthetics and execution of a particular style), therefore, for me, it is a sign of respect for years of working, not only focused on a musician but hundred of musicians who create, study, interpret and preserve the styles; It is true that there are others who take the styles further, giving a new path, however my choice is to try to adapt the needs of my client rather than my ideology (for that reason I have my own space as a composer and arranger)

The deployment:

As I mentioned before, the best way to be able to explain what it is to decide the elements of an arrangement is to share a part of my process. Although, musical arrangements are a subject that is studied, you can study a lifetime the technique, but it is the deployment of this, the subjective decisions that really allow us to learn as musicians and also (of course) create the music itself in an official format.

Therefore, to share decisions and philosophies about it, I would like to publish some of my processes in terms of arrangements in my compositions soon.