5 Tips for Building Great Arrangements with Logic Pro X
How you arrange your parts can have a huge affect on how your music is received. Good arranging can keep your listener interested and surprised while maintaining a sense of order and expectation. Fortunately, Logic Pro X is a simple but powerful tool for building great arrangements.
Five fundamentals of great arrangements follow. With these principles as your guide, you’ll have a much easier time organizing all your parts into a cohesive whole. If you’re a beginner, simplify your arrangements as much as possible until you get a good grasp of the fundamentals. One fast way to absorb them into your own music is to listen for them in the arrangements of other successful pieces of music and apply what you learn to your own music.
A balanced arrangement includes parts that are stable and in the right proportions. Aim to create balance within a section and between sections. For beginning arrangers, it’s easier to identify when parts are out of balance then when they are in balance. Listen for parts that are fighting each other and sections that don’t transition well. Imbalances can often be corrected by removing conflicting parts.
Parts become lost when they have no differentiation from each other. Build an arrangement with parts that complement each other, which often means that they have opposite qualities. Create parts that are loud and soft, dense and sparse, and you’ll avoid conflict and monotony. When you do have parts that conflict, listen for the properties that clash and find ways to make them contrast.
Arrangements are built part by part. It’s common even among experienced professionals to add more parts than you need. You can raise your status to a skilled arranger by muting and removing parts. Another way to build your arrangement is to increase its size and intensity as the song progresses. Use fewer parts in the beginning of the song and add parts or increase their intensity toward the end of the song.
Your arrangement needs to change through time to entertain your listener. The elements of your arrangement that keeps listeners interested are surprise and unexpected changes, but don’t veer too far from established patterns. Find your most interesting parts, highlight them, and you’ll keep your listener’s attention.
Your arrangement should have a singular focus. The focus of your arrangement can be a single part or a group of parts. Don’t clutter your arrangement with too many parts that fight for attention. The parts that aren’t being given a focused priority should be supportive. For example, in a song with a lead vocal, the lead vocal should be given the focus and the other instruments should support, rather than compete, with it. When the vocal isn’t playing, you can find the next most interesting part and focus on it until the vocal comes back.