How to write out arrangements

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by Larry F, May 6, 2013.

  1. Larry F

    Larry F Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    Posts:
    16,461
    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2006
    Location:
    Iowa City, IA
    In my day job as a classical composer, I learned how to write scores mostly by looking at other scores.

    In my earlier days as a guitarist in bands, we either rehearsed and gigged a lot, and wrote nothing down, literally nothing. Or in my jobbing gigs we just kind of followed the basic format for playing standards. Again, nothing written down, unless the keyboard player pulled out a fakebook.

    I'm back playing in a band again, and limits on rehearsal time and whatever is going wrong with my memory, are problems I am solving with a 1-page arrangement for each song. Usually I have melody + chords, then some kind of navigation system for how many we play this or that, where the solos are and how to end them, breaks, intros, outros, and even count-ins. I'm leaving nothing out, so that anyone who could understand my system would be able to play it with no difficulty. By "anyone" I really mean me, after a period of time where I have forgotten the specifics. I'm starting to develop a system, but sometimes encounter a situation that is new or different.

    How do real, gigging bands write out their arrangements? There are several different ways of showing repeats, but what about first and second endings, d.s. al fine, and d.c. al coda? Those don't quite work for me, but the principle is good. Where would I go to see some representative arrangements for a guitar band (no horns or special lines)? The closest thing I have seen that applies to what I need are recording session arrangements worked up by the musicians on the spot. Nashville numbers are fine, but I would stick with certain keys. No prob if the arrangements don't have the melody written out; I'm just interested in seeing how people map out a song, from beginning to end.
     
  2. Breen

    Breen Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,529
    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2009
    Location:
    Singapore
    Maybe cause we're young and uneducated, we just explain whats gonna happen, and play it. If anyone misses something, we shout it out to get the guy back in shape. Or we stop, explain what was missed, and start again from 4bars before, or the chorus/verse before etc.

    Then we work it full again. Once that's down, we make sure we know thats that, and make sure its done on gig day.

    Sometimes before the set one would be going, "so its verse verse chorus verse chorus solo middle eight chorus chorus drum mini solo trade off thingy then chorus right?"

    ".......Right."

    Or "So we A, A, B, solo guitar, solo bass, solo, drums, A, A, B, guitar out? Are we adding the addition AB after the 2nd B?"

    Not the most structured, understandable nor efficient obviously....
     
  3. Teletubbi

    Teletubbi Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    746
    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2012
    Location:
    West
  4. Cooper Black

    Cooper Black Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,221
    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2012
    Location:
    Asheville, NC
    Ask your buddies what makes the most sense to them, and organize the chart that way.

    I have lots of old charts, some in NN with Roman Numerals, some with Arabic Numerals. I have charts with the capo position called out (so the chart is in "G" for that person) and a separate chart in the actual key (for a different different guitarist).

    Whatever works is the best way.
     
  5. BlackAmpeg

    BlackAmpeg Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    515
    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2013
    Location:
    Nebraska
    To learn new material efficiently, I start with a lyric sheet. I then go through and write the name of each chord directly above the words. Last but not least, I listen to the recording as many times as is necessary and annotate the chord/lyric sheet, making note of any stops, changes, breaks, etc. Once I have a more or less accurate guide as to what the recorded version sounds like, I can go about re-arranging for a live application. It's convoluted, but it works for me.
     
  6. klasaine

    klasaine Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    8,667
    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2006
    Location:
    NELA, Ca
    I use normal repeat signs and 'coda' or DC, etc. ...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Here's 3 tunes I rarely remember:

    [​IMG]
     
  7. Larry F

    Larry F Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    Posts:
    16,461
    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2006
    Location:
    Iowa City, IA
    Ken, perfect, thanks. This helps a lot.
     
  8. D_Schief

    D_Schief Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    978
    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2005
    Location:
    Richmond, VA
    I think this is the key. There has to be a common language before whatever method will work for your band. I can read some music, and tend to think and talk about the chords by referencing their function (what I "think" is essentially the Nashville system). But if the other guys in the band don't understand that then you either have to teach them or find out what works for them.
     
  9. Larry F

    Larry F Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    Posts:
    16,461
    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2006
    Location:
    Iowa City, IA
    Actually, I'm doing this for me. They each have their own systems for remembering an arrangement. In terms of working out the arrangement, that's pretty easy and fun.
     
  10. a.miller

    a.miller Tele-Meister

    Age:
    38
    Posts:
    456
    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2008
    Location:
    Burbank, CA
    I do something that is similar to what you would find on a tab/chord site on the web...

    or, I'll write out the progressions for each part: verse, chorus, etc. and designate them "A", "B", "C", etc.

    After all the progression "parts" are written, I note the song structure at the bottom of the page, i.e. A, A, B, A, B, C, B, B, (solo / B), etc.
     
  11. Ed Boyd

    Ed Boyd Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,916
    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2009
    Location:
    Illinois
    Depends on who the readers are of course but I prefer to write charts with a number system so they stay good in any key.

    Personal charts I use roman numerals capitals are majors lower case are minors. example ii7 vs II7. But if you bandmates don't know that A is the 6 in the key of C then this won't work.
     
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.


  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.