About Arranging


In the last few years, I’ve had the experience repeatedly of writing
a song for one instrument and then re-arranging it for another.

In music, arranging is not as easy as moving the couch around. It’s more like making a Play-Doh castle. Cut an arrow slit here, add a turret there, and eventually there’s a dramatic shape in front of you, instead of a block of undifferentiated goo.

The bummer is, you can’t use the same arrangement for every instrument. Maybe for a guitar and a dobro, maybe even a lute, but not for a guitar and a keyboard. They’re too different.


Like these besties. They both love cocktails & dancing, but they can’t share pants.

For instance: you know the famed ‘middle C’ pitch on a piano? The one and only, the star of the catchy “Mrs. Midde C, Look At Me” song? A guitar has more than one middle C. (Run, children! The aliens are already among us!)

That and many more differences make it hard to pick up and move an arrangement from piano to guitar, and vice versa. You have to re-arrange it for each instrument.

And songs are like children, as I’m sure you’ve heard before. Some are even-tempered, and will obediently snuggle into a new arrangement and tuck themselves in, and some jam their little toes in the doorway and kick and scream and raise a ruckus and WILL NOT GO, and it takes an *eternity* to figure out what the heck will lure them out of that stuck place.



So that’s part of a musician’s life, too.

Was noodling around on guitar the other day, and a song I wrote for my new album (coming out in April!) just hopped into place. Wrote it on piano, never planned it for guitar, but there it was, good to go.

I got so excited I tried out two other songs from that album… and the temper tantrums commenced.

The moral of the story is, as I’m sure you’d expect: move your couch around every now and again, and, as tempting as it is, don’t eat that Play-Doh.

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