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What's the difference between a Composition and an Arrangement?

Discover and learn more about these two important musical categories

Released on June 12, 2013

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Tosh * VSM MEMBER * on June 12, 2013 @11:22 am PST
I have heard "arrangements" of Dvorak's Humoresque for violin and piano, and for other instruments. With respect to the former, I have Cds in which one famous violinist plays Humoresque without double stops, and other famous violinists like Kreisler who played it with a lot of double stops, or another who used a few double stops and not the same double stops as Kreisler used. So what I'm saying is that there is nothing wrong with taking an arrangement and changing it to suit your own preferences...whether that means adding extra double stops, taking out double stops, or even changing the type of double stop in a passage (as for example from thirds to sixths), adding accidentals here and there, etc., ...so long as the end result is pleasing and adheres to the spirit of the piece.
Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator and CEO, on June 12, 2013 @11:53 am PST
Yes, of course, I agree with you, Arrangements have no "limits" and may be quite different from the original composition. I am sure Robert agree with me on this. If you look at the past, musicians used to improvise on just simple melodies and make their own "arrangements" on the fly! So, that's completely natural and, in my opinion, music passion brings musicians to improvisation and arrangements creation. It is a fascinating subject indeed.
Robert - host, on June 12, 2013 @1:52 pm PST
Creative license in embellishing musical compositions varies depending upon the time period of the music. Romantic showpieces in particular are often times altered to showcase the technical and musical style of the performer. Baroque music offers opportunities for creative license with ornamentation. Generally, classical period music of Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven are generally performed for the most part as written.

Arrangements and transcriptions are by their nature open to enhancement since they are already changed to accommodate different instrumentation. Humoresques was originally a piano piece, so it presents fair game for violinists and other instrumentalists to impart their signature in performance.
Christoph Leroy on June 12, 2013 @7:11 am PST
In this case is harmonizations the same as arrangements?
Robert - host, on June 12, 2013 @1:53 pm PST
Harmonization is generally the practice of taking a monophonic song or melody and adding chord structure of some type.
LUIZ SETTE * VSM MEMBER * on June 12, 2013 @6:27 am PST
Hi ! Wonderful comments, as usual. I would add if I may another sort of arrangement very popular in 19th century and beginning of the 20th. I mean Piano Reductions of orquestral pieces, including full symphonies and opera overtures. Many were called paraphrases of concert. There was a preference for 4-hand or some 2-piano works. I myself own a rare 2-volume book of opera overtures, a real treasure with wonderful and well written ( advanced level) 4-hand piano work.
Robert - host, on June 12, 2013 @1:55 pm PST
There is a wealth of musical arrangements of great symphonic repertoire. This is because before the advent of recording, vast numbers of people could never hear these works if they didn't live close to a major city that had an orchestra. So, it was the only way to experience these great compositions.
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