The Music Arranger

George Martin and Ringo Starr
The Beatles drummer, Ringo Starr, appearing with arranger and producer George Martin on Yorkshire TV Production 'With a Little Help from My Friends' presented by George Martin, 1966. Photoshot / Getty Images

What does an arranger do?

His primary role is to arrange a piece of music based on the needs or requirements of a performer, a group of performers, a conductor, producer or music director. The arranger makes sure that every aspect of a music piece is well harmonized, from the instruments down to the tempo. The music that an arranger works on may either be an original or an already existing music piece.

What equipment does an arranger need?

Many music arrangers today have their own music studios equipped with necessary tools of the trade including various musical instruments, synthesizers, computers, plug-ins, software, mixers, and microphones. The equipment used usually depends on the arranger's forte and clientele.

What are the qualities of a good arranger?

Arrangers generally know how to play several instruments, have a good grasp of music theory, ability to read and write music, ability to transpose and transcribe, and a strong background in orchestration, ​harmony, and composition. A good arranger must be original, creative and adaptive.

What other pointers should an arranger keep in mind?

Good arrangers must be able to work well with others in a collaborative manner. Often, the artist, producer or music director sets certain guidelines on how a composition or song should be treated. A good arranger is one who listens and works within these guidelines but is also able to make adjustments that will make the piece more effective.

Why become an arranger?

I personally know several arrangers who are running their own studios and are earning well. Aside from the possibility of being a lucrative career, it is also quite rewarding, especially if you love working with people and bringing their music to life. Often, arrangers gain clients by word of mouth, so always treat everyone with respect and each project with professionalism.

Arrangers work on various projects from demos to film scores.

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