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Unit 18: Harmony and Arranging

For any musician or composer to progress in music, it is vital for them to understand a variety of musical components. It is also important to build up an understanding of different musical styles and forms, whether they are to their own tastes or not. Having an appreciation of a form or style enables learners to work and compose within it, regardless of personal taste. Another significant area to highlight is the instrumentation and voicing of different pieces, as it is important to achieve the right ‘balance’ and texture within a piece of music.

However, the ability to rearrange a piece from one style to something totally different must also be considered. This can be ‘modern’ interpretations of songs or the reverse, for example Paul Anka’s big band versions of songs (Rock Swings, 2005) including Wonderwall (Oasis, 1995) and Smells Like Teen Spirit (Nirvana, 1991). The main aim of this unit is for learners to be able to produce a portfolio of contrasting compositions, demonstrating an appreciation of a variety of styles. It will cover section writing in two, three, four and five parts and also writing specifically for a rhythm section. The whole unit will be underpinned by a knowledge and understanding of ‘jazz’ and ‘popular’ music chord structures and chord progressions. It is important for the learner to hear and appreciate a wide selection of music so that they can compose and arrange in many different contexts.


Tags: Harmony and Arranging