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General arranging tips and tricks

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Tobbeh99:
Hi I been thinking of making a new topic/thread where people can share their arranging tips and tricks. As an arranger you might come across very different types of music and scenarios that you might not now how to arrange well and thought it would be great to create a topic where people can share some tips and tricks for other people to learn. The idea of this topic is not to tell people how to do it "correctly" but more for people to share their ideas for other people to get inspired by.

To give a more concrete example of what I mean, I thought of dividing this OP into different sections, these sections could be stuff like "how to: include many voices, arranging for certain instruments to the piano (like guitar, percaussion etc.), different ways of notating, arrange for different genres (rock, orchestral, 8-bit etc.), use of articulations, dynamics etc.

So if you have a neat way of let's say transcribing guitar parts to piano, or maybe you where very satisfied how you handled multiple voices in one of your arrangements you can write down in a comment and I'll add it to the OP. The goal of this topic is to create like a library or a wiki where people can look how other people have found solutions to various problems concerning arranging and get inspired and create better arrangements.     

I made some examples below to demonstrate the idea.

Process of arranging/Tools for arranging
There are a lot of tools you can use to make arranging much easier. The ones I used are Audiostretch and Audacity.

Audiostretch
SpoilerWebite: http://www.audiostretch.com/audiostretchforflash/
Audiostretch is an amazing slow-downer that let's you slow down songs to 0% and even beyond, lol. I have it set to a very slow speed 30-0% for picking out notes and sometimes rhythm. But a higher like 70-100% can also be useful for "capturing the bigger picture", often if you want to hear the rhythm of a section for example. This application is can even become better combined with Audacity.
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Audacity
Spoilerwebsite: http://www.audacityteam.org/
Audacity is a great audio editing software. I use it mainly too boost bass and treble which facilitates hearing certain notes. This program combined with Audiostretch are create a solid platform for arranging. I usually open a the song I'm about to arrange in audacity, edit it there, with some effects mentioned below, and export it afterwards (you'll need to install some plugin to export mp3 files however; but it's pretty easy to do, just follow the steps).

Some tricks I use:

Boosting Bass and Treble:
Under the "effects" menu you can find "bass and treble". If you click on it a menu will pop up, on which you can choose to boost ether bass or treble. I usually boost one to the max and the other to the very minimum. For example bass to +15db and treble to -15db. And i don't use the level, I don't know what it does honestly.
This is how the window looks like. (my program is in Swedish  :-\ don't know if you can change it, but the window should lok the same but in your language)


EQ:
You can also use the equalizer under the "effects" menu for the same purpose as the boost, mentioned above. I rarely use because I found that the boost does the same job but better. With the EQ you get a more extreme sound I feel like (fart-like bass, really sharp treble), rather than boost which is more smooth. It's very easy to use, just raise or lower the notches, maybe raise the bass a lot and lower the treble if you want to hear the bass better.


Raise/Lower pitch:
This last trick is a quite useful one. Under the "effects" menu you can find "change pitch". Click on it and window will pop up. What this effect does is that you can change the pitch of a section or the whole song. How is this useful, then? I usually use it in combination with the boost. let's say I have boosted the bass up but it's still hard to hear some notes in the bass. What you can do now is to change the pitch to one octave higher, making the low bass notes much easier to hear. You can also do this with the treble as well, just do the the other way, lower all notes by one octave.

As you can see in the picture I'm changing the pitch from F1 to F2 (one octave).

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Repeated Notes
SpoilerHere's an example of how to deal with repeated notes in the bass. There are many songs which have repeated notes in the bass an the best ways usually are simply repeated notes or as a octave tremolo. Changing the octaves of the repeated notes can greatly enhance the playability by making the repeated notes much more comfortable to play (less leaps) and also not alter it to much from the original. Fingerings can also very useful dealing with repeated notes. Below is my arrangement of "New Messiah (Crystal Castle)" from Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge, where I used all techniques mentioned above.

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Including Multiple Voices
SpoilerHere's an example where I let the LH play a chord at beat 1, and also beat 3, and after play the bass line. Using this method I was able to include the melody, the bass line and the chords.
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Arranging different instruments

Arranging Unpitched Percussion
SpoilerSometimes you come across pitched percussion, and they're easy, just hear the notes and write them down. But a lot of times you might come across unpitched percussion, and that's a bit more tricky to arrange. My go-to when it comes to unpitched percussion is to use very consonant intervals, like 1st, 4ths, 5ths and 8ths, and often in a somewhat low register. Below is an example of this.   

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Arranging Guitar Parts
SpoilerHere's an example where I made a sort of tremolo like method to write down the fast guitar strums. This method can be really useful in guitar strum parts, if you have a triad, play the 2 top notes and then the bottom note and continue - a good way of writing guitar strum rather than just a lot of chords.

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Different Ocatves/Registers
SpoilerHere's a section where I put the melody in the bass. Usually the melody is often in the treble register, here's an example where it works fine in the bass, having sharp chords in the treble.
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Tobbeh99:
I thought the way to go with this is that you comment with a pdf and a youtube vid. That would be all we need, you don't need a pic just a pdf or a link to the pdf is fine, I can make the pics myself. 

braix:
I don't really have any tips, but here's something I do that others might be able to try

For my arrangements I put down all the notes I hear into a file with 150 measures(usually more than enough), then I delete all the measures I don't need. Then I rearrange and take away notes that you can't play, then I add a key signature at the end. Then I would go and fix up all the stuff I need to fix.
My process is pretty braindead. I like it.

Tobbeh99:
That's kind of what I do, but still different. I usually go through the song once, writing down the melody and maybe other important things. Then going through the song again and "filling in the gaps", writing all the other stuff, the bass lines, chords and other stuff. 

mikey:
I construct the basic melody for the first part of the song then slowly add layers with countermelody, harmony, etc. then I add formatting.  Some of it.  Having the first part of the song fully completed makes it a good reference for the style of the rest of the song and filling out the rest of it is easier when you can compare measures
You probably shouldn't listen to me unless you want to be as good as me

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