I am going to use an analogy, I will compare song arrangement to something pretty much anyone can relate to, a movie. In this case a James Bond movie.
1. The start of a James Bond movie is always an action packed sequence. Before you even get the opening credits you are hit with a big blast of exciting events. In music this is called the intro. It can be anything, but it serves two purposes, just like the start of a James Bond movie. First it tells you what kind of song it is, and second it sucks you into the music.
2. As soon as the opening action bit is over, the movie credits and the theme song for that movie kicks in. This is your hook. Elements of this are repeated through the song. This is the part of the song that tends to get stuck in people’s heads. In the case of James Bond, the better example is his theme, which is usually not played until the end of the movie.
In music this might be the main riff of the song, or you can even open with the chorus.
3. The next part of the movie is generally where important characters are introduced, and the overall plot of the movie gets underway. For a song this would be your first verse.
4. After all that talking, and stuff James is usually on his way to some exotic local, and they use a lot of great looking footage of nothing important to wake everyone back up/keep them interested. For a song, this is the chorus, usually the first time it runs through.
5. Next James runs into some trouble and we get some more action, or he doesn't and we get more plot and characters. For the song we will go with the latter, and it's is the second verse. We will still be looking for some energy here to move things into step 6.
6. The Second chorus, and this time there needs to be more energy. This is James's first encounter with the major baddies of the movie. Not as big as the finish, but a lot of action takes place.
7. Now James is in pursuit, or running, figuring things out, and doing what he needs to do. In the song this is where you put solos, and other elements that really build into step 8.
8. The big finish. This is where Jame's is battling the main villain, getting the girl and saving the world. In the song, this is the big return of the chorus. The instruments, are wailing, the singer is belting like crazy, everything is going to explode!
9. Depending on the style, and how you think the song should end it can repeat the chorus to a fade out, or a solo can finish up the song. It just depends in what serves the song best. This is where James and the girl go off into the sunset.
10. A common trick at the end is to repeat the most catchy part of the song till it fades out. Once again this is why they stick the big James Bond theme at the end of the movie. It keeps you thinking about the movie, so maybe you come back a watch it again. Same goes for a song, keep it stuck in their head, and they won’t be able to help themselves, they will want to hear it again.
Well, that is one way to look at song arrangement. The important thing to remember is that just like movies, the only limit to how you can arrange a song is your imagination.
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