from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Through an arrangement is in the music an often copyright -protected musical work changed with the help of musical or technical means of design in its original form of expression. The arranger is the person who makes such arrangements. There is also the term orchestrator , whose field of activity is mostly aimed at larger orchestral works.


In classical music , the so-called. Nowadays requires faithfulness to a faithful reproduction of the scores , even for minor redesigns means that no space. The fidelity to the work gives the works a certain recognition value, regardless of which symphony orchestra or ensemble they play. But even with strict scores, the realization of the work still requires interpretation by musicians and singers and thus the aesthetic interpretation of the notes, even if the limits are tight. Arrangements are therefore a special form of interpretation and the deviation from the score of the original through musical design means. Arrangements as a form of work interpretation are therefore mostly only found in other musical styles, especially in jazz , pop and rock music . The arrangements of the 19th century or Schoenberg's association for private musical performances are examples of widespread historical practice of arrangements of classical music.

Only the redesign of an original is understood as an arrangement. It should not go unmentioned that - also in classical music - composers often resorted to arrangers because they did not want to or could not arrange themselves. The arrangement is a creative phenomenon typical of popular music. The scale of the arrangement ranges from the occasional intervention to a complete redesign of the original.

The type of (new) setup of a piece of music or the processing can be very different:

  • The content of the original is retained, as is the case with the transcription of a composition for a different line-up.
  • Parts of the original or different original compositions are put together in a new order and, if necessary, combined with additionally composed transitions, such as with suites , potpourris or medleys of popular melodies on a certain topic.

Design means

The importance of the arrangement can be read from the components of a composition. A composition consists of primary components (melody, rhythm, harmony and form) and secondary components ( arrangement, interpretation and recording technique ). Musical and / or technical means are available to the arranger for arrangements. He can emphasize one or more of them in the arrangement, but ignore others. The design means consist in particular of other instrumentation, reharmonization or modulations .


For a different arrangement, the same design tools are available that the composer can use when designing his original work. The musical design elements include instrumentation , melody , harmony , rhythm , metrics , tempo , phrasing , articulation , ornamentation , cadence or periodic.


Technical design elements are used in the recording studio for the sound recording itself or for its post-production ; they are part of the sound design . Echo or reverberation effects can be used in the sound recording itself, and sound effects in post-production . Even mixing as the penultimate process in the recording studio can still contain design aspects of an arrangement.


Arrangement has been of greatest importance in non-orchestral music since the 20th century. In the late Renaissance and Baroque music there was already an abbreviation, as is the case today in lead sheets - the figured bass or basso continuo . So z. For example, Vivaldi's harpsichordist played these abbreviations spontaneously in an improvising manner, and they were only later explicitly fixed in notes, whereby of course the improvisational character was lost. While in " classical music " the art music was composed note for note and orchestrated by the composer - apart from e.g. B. from the transition parts of the cadences  -, other musical styles give more space for more free execution or improvisation . Johann Strauss (son) wrote the scores of his own compositions himself, but he also arranged opera and concert music by other authors for his own orchestra. Altogether there are more than 500 arrangements of foreign compositions by him.

Many pieces of music created in the 20th century - for example in blues , jazz or pop , in folk music and all genres derived from them - give the performing musicians or singers greater freedom in the interpretation of a piece. It not only extends to the expression , but also includes aspects relevant to notation . Pieces from these areas are often only given in terms of melody line and harmony sequence. It is the arranger's task to turn these few specifications into an arrangement that gives the musicians more precise information or options. This can be done through the creation of a score , through verbal agreements with the musicians or through audio samples .

Arrangements only became more important in jazz. Here the written arrangement is already used by the white “symphonic” jazz orchestras such as Paul Whiteman , Leo Reisman or Jean Goldkette . Famous arrangers of the time were Don Redman (for Fletcher Henderson ), Doc Cook ( Chicago jazz ) and Erskine Tate . The standard formulas of the big band arrangements were set by Art Hickman , Bill Challis or Ferde Grofé . In particular, Grofé developed the principles for Paul Whiteman that culminated in the swing era:

  • Division of the orchestra into "sections": wind instruments, strings, saxophones and rhythm;
  • these sections play call and response or contrapuntal ;
  • mostly improvised solos ;
  • Ensemble passages are played with the feeling of improvised solos.

In the course of music history, arrangements have not only been made by other arrangers, but also by the composers of the original works themselves. In the 19th century, the need for easy-to-perform arrangements of well-known works for dance orchestras grew . Since then, the term “arrangement” has had the connotation of “second-hand work”. Because music masterpieces were often adapted to inadequate casts, especially in salon or coffee house music, and to the preferences of less demanding audiences who only wanted to hear the popular "beautiful melodies" - removed from a qualitative musical context.

Arrangement in jazz

It is characteristic of jazz that, due to the predominant improvisation, there is usually no notation and therefore no scores for individual instruments, which gives the arrangement special meaning. A jazz arrangement means setting up a piece of music for a different line-up than the original. In jazz, the advertised arrangement became particularly important during the times of the big band; their bandleaders cultivated the jazz arrangements for larger bands by building on the achievements of a Jelly Roll Morton as arranger. In contrast to this is the "head arrangement" as a spontaneous musical course that is merely agreed orally between the musicians. The standard arrangement in jazz stipulates that the intro is followed by a head arrangement , which leads to the solos, which in turn are replaced by a head arrangement , and then to the outro . In jazz, the source material (the “original”) is only understood as the musical core; the particular arrangement is the actual musical creation. That is why in jazz the arranger is often seen as the actual composer. Many jazz tracks only became popular in the form of a particular arrangement, such as In the Mood , as adapted by Glenn Miller (recorded August 1, 1939). In jazz, arrangements were and still are a unique identity for the jazz band. In jazz the arrangement serves as an alternative to improvisation and not as a substitute for improvisation as in pop and rock music.

Arrangement in pop and rock music

In pop and rock music, since yesterday at the latest by the Beatles (June 17, 1965), the arrangement is no longer tied to the usual instrumentation of a beat band . However, it can also be based closely on the original, such as Rock Around the Clock by Bill Haley (April 12, 1954) compared to the original by Sonny Dae and his Knights (March 20, 1954). Careful redesigns such as Ray Charles ' cover version of Eleanor Rigby (March 1968; original by The Beatles; June 6, 1966) are followed by extensive new arrangements such as the Supremes hit You Keep Me Hangin' On (August 1, 1966) by Vanilla Fudge (May 1967 ) across from. The latter track is an example of how much an arrangement can change the original. Vanilla Fudge was an epic version of the Supremes hit in just one take in the Ultrasonic Studio . While cover versions are often based very much on the original, in this case the original was hardly recognizable. The track recorded in mono was extended to 6:47 minutes and slowed down to slow motion, as the original tempo was reduced by half. The psychedelic sound with a neoclassical organ score and sitar passages alienates the original beyond recognition. The single version, shortened to 2:50 minutes, was released on June 2, 1967 and attracted worldwide attention.

Famous arrangers of pop music were Leiber / Stoller , Jack Nitzsche , Phil Spector , George Martin and Todd Rundgren . The example of music producer George Martin shows that the tasks between music producer and arranger are often fluid in commercial music.


The arrangement is intended to bring another variant of the interpretation of the original to the listener. It can open up other audiences if it presents a different style of music compared to the original, such as Puttin 'on the Ritz by Taco (September 1982) compared to Leo Reisman's original (January 20, 1930). For commercial reasons, a song that has failed in the original is redesigned to make it suitable for the hit parade with the help of a more attractive arrangement , as in Chubby Checker's version of The Twist , the original of which was by Hank Ballard (November 11, 1958). Checker's version was so strikingly similar to the original that Hank Ballard thought it was his piece when he listened to the radio. Checker's version was identical in pitch, rhythm, and vocals. While the original - especially the B-side - went under, Checker's cover version became a million seller .

The arrangement gives the piece of music its formative character, which can contribute to recognition value. The structure of a composition given by the composer can be made simpler or more complex through an arrangement. The arrangement is the central stylistic device of pop and rock music. “The arranger is the most important link between a composer and his composition and the musicians or orchestras who perform or record these pieces of music. His job is to be able to work on an existing composition for every type of instrumentation and in every style. "

Today, especially with electronic and pop music, the arrangement sometimes also includes a part of the processing which, strictly speaking, is seen more as part of the composition or comes close to a remix . The arranger is often someone who has worked on the structure of the piece of music for an already finished recording. The various activities can sometimes not be clearly demarcated from one another.


The arrangement does not mean the instrumentation itself, but rather the individual, artistic nature and character of the performance by the respective performers. Transcription is merely the transcription from one musical notation into another or the transfer of acoustically perceived music into notation, so that the design aspects that are important for an arrangement are missing here. Head arrangements are the arrangements of a piece of music agreed between musicians before the performance, without these being recorded in notes. The order of the solos or the interplay between rhythm and melody groups is determined. These are spontaneous designs, mostly found in jazz, which were also characteristic of Memphis soul. The repetitions of individual phrases are nothing special in music and find a central component in the refrain , but there are musical styles that present an intensive repetition of individual fragments. This repetitive arrangement is typical in country blues , mambo , salsa and techno . In jazz, one speaks of a live arrangement when the distribution of the tasks among the fellow performers takes place orally or with signs shortly before or even during the performance. For this, the main theme and the harmony sequence must be known to all musicians. The bandleader must explain or rehearse the tutti sections and additional desired effects in advance, so they have been available as a score (since the 1920s). The solo parts can then be designed improvising by individual musicians, whereby in better arrangements these parts are also based on complete scores that show a thematically rhythmic development over the course of the course and musically incorporate the change from soloist to soloist into the overall development of the piece.

Legal issues

The new arrangement of a musical work is always a dependent processing according to § 3 UrhG or - if the arrangement is not creative - another dependent redesign within the meaning of § 23 UrhG. In both cases the consent of the original composer is required. The individual arrangement of a musical work can be protected if the arranger creates something self-creative through the use of stylistic devices. The jurisprudence only assigns a creative peculiarity to the classical arrangement if the arrangement goes beyond the purely technical application of musical teachings. Since an arrangement is conceptually made on an already existing and protected work, the arranger is to be regarded as a processor within the meaning of § 3 UrhG. In the case of works in the public domain in the field of popular music , the original composer is no longer given, but rather the arranger. Legal claims of the arrangements are represented by Gema .


  • Markus Fritsch , Peter Kellert: Arranging and producing. Leu Verlag, ISBN 3-928825-22-4 .
  • Ulrich Kaiser , Carsten Gerlitz: arranging and instrumenting, baroque to pop. Kassel 2005, ISBN 3-7618-1662-6 .
  • George T. Simon: The golden era of big bands . hannibal Verlag, ISBN 3-85445-243-8 .
  • David Baker: Arranging & Composing, For the Small Ensemble: Jazz, R&B, Jazz-Rock . Alfred, complete instructions from the melody and harmonization to the six-part score.
  • Paul Wiebe: Arranging wind instruments . Wizoobooks Verlag, 2007, ISBN 978-3-934903-61-6 .
  • Achim Brochhausen: Arrangement Pop / Jazz / Rock . audio workshop technical script, reading sample (PDF; 447 kB)
  • Paul Wiebe: Arranging strings . Wizoobooks Verlag, 2009, ISBN 978-3-934903-70-8 - Ways to the perfect orchestral setting on the computer.
  • Andreas N. Tarkmann : Arranging for chamber music ensembles . Staccato-Verlag, Düsseldorf 2010, ISBN 978-3-932976-34-6 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Arrangement  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ AA Schmieder: Integrity of the work and freedom of interpretation . In: NJW . 1990, 1945, 1947
  2. a b Sebastian Schunke: Editing rights in music and its exercise by GEMA . 2008, p. 63
  3. ^ Wieland Ziegenrücker, Peter Wicke : Sachlexikon Popularmusik . 1987, p. 25
  4. ^ Tibor Kneif: Sachlexikon Rockmusik . 1978, p. 25.
  5. Wolf Moser : The repertoire second hand. The history of the transmission and its tasks. In: Guitar & Laute , 9, 1987, 3, pp. 19-26; here: p. 19 (on adaptation , arrangement and processing )
  6. Renate Stephan: Johann Strauss, the waltz king . 1999, p. 46
  7. ^ Jürgen Wölfer: Lexicon of Jazz . 1993, p. 28.
  8. ^ Richard Lawn: Experiencing Jazz . 2013, p. 127
  9. ^ Paul E. Rinzler: Jazz Arranging and Performance Practice . 1999, p. 60 f.
  10. Richard Lawn: Experiencing Jazz , 2013, p. 36 f.
  11. Fred Bronson: The Billboard Book of Number One Hits . 1985, p. 74
  12. Peter Keller, Markus Fritsch: Arranging and Producing . 1995, p. 45
  13. Jürgen Wölfer: Lexikon des Jazz , 1993, p. 212.
  14. Hans-Jürgen Homann: Practical Guide to Music Law . 2006, p. 63
  15. BGH GRUR 1991, 533, 535 Brown Girl II
  16. BGH GRUR 1981, 267, 268 - Dirlada
  17. Hans-Jürgen Homann: Practical Guide to Music Law . 2006, p. 19