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SATB Arrangements

Nickg8

Member
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55
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Coventry
If you were going to do an arrangement of a tune for satb, where would you start ?
Would you start with the melody or the bass line ? thinking that the bass line would probably run throughout the tune whereas the melody may have breaks in it.
Any ideas welcomed.

Cheers

Nick
 

Jamesmac

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,780
Firstly It would depend on which instrument would play the melody, because you then have to think about the voicing. ie how the other parts will support the tune. If you want sustained or moving parts etc. Anyway that is worth thinking about before you even go near the manuscript.
 

Jamesmac

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,780
Perhaps do some sketches, sections of the melody. ie 4 bars of the Sop playing the melody, then compose some interesting parts for the others underneath, but the melody could also be under bits of the acc. it depends on your ideas.
Perhaps check out some scores and get some ideas, arrangers do it all the time.
 

MandyH

Sax-Mad fiend!
Café Supporter
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3,567
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The Malverns, Worcs
There's nothing stopping the melody moving around all 4 parts - I wouldn't buy an SATB arrangement if the Bari line wasn't interesting enough. If you're just going to give me the walking bass, then it's not my kind of SATB arrangement.
Just an observation. I've no idea how to go about writing an arrangement, however.
 

Andante cantabile

Senior Member
Messages
707
Firstly It would depend on which instrument would play the melody, because you then have to think about the voicing. ie how the other parts will support the tune. If you want sustained or moving parts etc. Anyway that is worth thinking about before you even go near the manuscript.

This is good advice. Doing it will be quite challenging. As you talk of arranging, I assume that you already have a composition in mind. To a greater or lesser extent this existing composition will force you to allocate parts to the SATB combination in a manner that gives expression to the existing composition and that is actually playable (e.g. you probably wouldn't force the alto to play an unreasonable amount in the low C to Bb range, and you would instead give it to the tenor). The order in which you do this is probably not all that important because you will go through several revisions before you are happy with it.

If you have access to it, Paul Harvey's Saxophone has some brief but interesting observations on making SATB arrangements.
 

fibracell

Senior Member
Messages
609
here's my first method...

write out melody and then add the harmony chord tones for all parts. Then away from the piano, make the parts into interesting lines (so a player might find it interesting), by adding passing tones, and embellishments etc. Then check the overall sketch on the piano and make adjustments. Then when everything makes sense, and sounds good, you can then make it more musical, by swapping the parts around, and making sure all the parts are in fairly good registers. Also, check to see if there are enough rests and gaps - you don't need all 4 parts playing at once.
Also study lots of scores for other ideas, such as pyramids, etc. Don't be afraid to steal other peoples arranging concepts!

cheers - Rob
 
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