Composing and Arranging Guidelines

How to Get Your Music Played

Notes for Arrangers:

  1. If your piece doesn't play after two attempts by the full orchestra, I will pull it. It's not personal, it's about what we have time to finish.
  2. Know who you are writing for ... we're not the Berlin Philharmonic.
  3. 1/8th note rests aren't your friend and they won't happen (probably). Add them to the previous note and make them go away. That's what your musicians will play anyway.
  4. 1/16th notes are only possible at slow tempos (probably).
  5. The bass player is also our drummer. You make that part too hard, and you'll hear the rest of the orchestra struggling. Know what the bass is for and write appropriately for it.
  6. Repeats ... please DON'T use them. We are in the process of moving to iPads and foot pedals. Those who stay on paper are quite capable of turning pages.
  7. Weird meters (ehem) ... those are (probably) for small ensembles. See #2 above.
  8. Your job is not to "teach" anything ... your job is to write something playable, creative and beautiful.
  9. Write in English and don't use archaic or obscure notation.
  10. If there are lyrics, put them into the score. It helps.