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This semester I have the pleasure of teaching our Instrumentaion & Arranging class for the first time in this century. In preparation for the teaching of this course I did some research on what is meant by those two terms because I like to be clear about where I am headed when I guide a group of students down a new academic path. I am writing to you today because the word "arranging" seems to have a variety of meanings depending on genre and purpose. Since this is a course for classical music students, not jazzers, I gave them an assignment to arrange Chopin's Prelude No. 7 (A major) for string orchestra. Some of the students stuck with the notes handed to them by Chopin and others added melodic and harmonic materials that were not in the original score. This dichotomy led us to a discussion of what we really mean by arranging. For me, the prelude in question is a perfect masterpiece just the way it is and so assigning its materials to the members of the string orchestra was rather starightforward once a plan was set in place. That Is, for me, the essence of arranging. I then wondered what would happen if I added one nice touch to an inner voice with the intention of embellishing the original piece.The result was, in effect, 99% Chopin and 1% Jablonsky. I am asking you now if what I did was a true arrangement or was it an arrangement with recomposition. In other words, if I add just one or more new pitches to the Chopin mix, what is that process called in your neck of the woods. Do we need better terminology?
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