Category Archives: Arranging


Five play-along midi files of Passepieds by Telemann are now available for downloading – see Guitar Group Support (midi files). This piece features quite drastic echo effects which it is not really possible to include (without causing other problems) in a midi file (see Thoroughly Modern Midi). We will, however, include all volume contrasts in rehearsal and performance.

There are also copies of all the parts for those who want to explore the piece in more depth – see Guitar Group Support (additional parts).

Good luck, and thanks for your hard work this week – a good start to the year!

Corn Rigs

Thanks to all who volunteered to play in the NBHS Burn Supper. There are now 5 playalong midi files (4 verses long) on the Guitar Group Support Page – speeds range from 70 to 110. Good luck with your rehearsal on Thu – see you next Tuesday.

Just to confirm the deal – all players are offered free entry to the ceilidh which follows the supper. The band is one of the best around – The Robert Black Ceilidh Band – featuring the internationally reknowned Dave Swanson on drums! Be there, or wear tartan flares.

Cheap At Half The Price

Recently I received the latest rates for arrangers from The British Music Writers’ Council – a branch of The Musicians’ Union. The going rate is £3.65 per bar. Out of interest, I added up all the bars arranged for this year’s school projects so far – 5 pieces weighing in at a total of 388 bars – and the fee comes to £1,416.20 (not including parts for individual players – for which add another few hundred quid).

Of course, nobody really expects cash for these extras – book tokens will be fine, thanks.


Arranging 8

There is one extremely ironic spin-off from spending time on putting an arrangement together, adding as much technical help as possible and  deliberating over layout issues such as the placement of rehearsal marks. You never need look to at the music, leaving one free to spot the under- and over-active eyes of the profoundly lost. Continue reading Arranging 8

Arranging 7

To TAB or not to TAB

Tablature is an ancient system of notation for fretted string instruments where horizontal lines represent the strings and numbers placed on these lines represent the chosen fret. Many guitar teachers use only TAB viewing notation as a disincentive. The problem here is that non-readers (of notation) can communicate only with other guitarists. Many teachers use notation exclusively, regarding TAB as a form of cheating. My view….. Continue reading Arranging 7

Arranging 6

Idiot Proof

I thought I had stumbled upon something great recently in Sibelius (score writing software). Under normal circumstances I keep a separate log of which pupils are playing which part in an arrangement. This helps to ensure a balance and is a great help later on when devising a seating/walk-on plan for concerts. I decided to try a new approach. Continue reading Arranging 6

Arranging 5

One overlooked layout decision – a thousand repeated sentences. (Ancient proverb from the Province of East Lothian).

Publishing houses have some advantages over instructors when arranging ensembles for schools:

  • Not teaching 50 lessons per week
  • Having in-house proof-readers to spot errors in the notes, fingering, position markings, expression marks and matters of general layout – known in the trade as geography. Continue reading Arranging 5

Arranging 3

There can be few composers/arrangers who use pencil & paper in preference to software. There are many reasons for this:

  • having written the score (conductor’s version showing everyone’s notes), the parts (what each individual player sees) are extracted automatically and do not have to be written individually when writing for a large ensemble this is a saving of dozens – if not hundreds – of hours
  • ease of rewriting sections or fixing errors Continue reading Arranging 3