Beginner's Guide to Song Arranging

  • 2.5+ hours of Streamed Tutorials
  • Access 24/7/365
  • Written Notes
  • Ableton Live Module Projects

Making loops and jamming with musical ideas, although fun, can be a trap we get stuck in all too often, sometimes finding it hard to get out of ‘loop mode’ and start putting an actual track together. On this course, you’ll be provided with the knowledge required to gain a good understanding of how music is arranged, from how and why song sections are structured, to specific techniques for improving the arrangement.

The course begins with a detailed look at 2 successful tracks in varying styles, one a vocal-based pop track and the other a Tech House banger! The arrangements are completely broken down and scrutinised, then a summary of the main similarities and differences is given, with an explanation of why each song is arranged the way it is.

The subsequent modules then show the main stages of building up an arrangement, starting with the beats and creating drum fills, then introducing melodic parts and discussing the hierarchy and placement of each. Introduction, breakdown and drop sections are then laid out, showing the main concepts behind a breakdown and different methods for achieving it. Sections are then bolstered with additional layers to support the melodies and create more engagement, including vocal textures and chords.

The latter part of the course focuses heavily on FX, starting with samples that are used to enhance definition and flow, and then moving on to devices like reverb and delay, used to add character and depth, as well as improve transitions. More advanced techniques like automation and send effects are covered that, although technically more challenging, are explained slowly and clearly so that even those with little experience should be able to follow along without issues. There is also some focus on tonality and tuning, working out the key of parts and the track, and exploring other keys to move to temporarily during the arrangement.

By the end of the course, students should have a good idea of the necessary considerations and different approaches to arranging a track, ultimately helping construct clear goals to work to when making music. Signing up grants immediate access to almost 3 hours of tutorials, plus supporting materials like written guides and software projects, providing all the teachings and support needed to start arranging quality music of your own.

Creating a Breakdown

Course Breakdown

A short introduction to the course and overview of the lessons.

Module 1 - Track Analysis and Comparison
In this first module, Rob provides a detailed analysis of two electronic tracks in differing styles, one a vocal-based pop track and the other a Tech House slammer! After giving an explanation of how each arrangement is constructed, there is a summary of the main similarities and differences.

Module 2 - Arrangement Techniques 1 - Drums, Intro and Breakdown
To start the arrangement, a 16-bar drum break is made, complete with the necessary fills and high frequency percussion layers. The other sounds are then added, reviewed and positioned along the timeline to form an introduction, first breakdown and drop.
Lesson 1 - Drum Fills - 11.15
Lesson 2 - Making an Intro and First Breakdown - 11.31

Module 3 - Arrangement Techniques 2 - FX Sounds and Processing
The arrangement is embellished with FX sounds like risers and impacts, some of which are found in Loopcloud and others made using sounds in the project. Audio effects like reverbs, delays and filters are then applied to parts, with their parameters automated, to not only add extra width and depth but also create contrasts between sections and help with the flow of energy through the track.
Lesson 1 - Adding FX Sounds and Devices - 14.24
Lesson 2 - Automating Effects - 21.46

Module 4 - Arrangement Techniques 3 - Additional Song Sections & Composition
After some additional sounds are added to the first breakdown and drop, ensuring the tuning is correct first, some new breakdown ideas are implemented. Firstly, a breakdown that introduces a new synth melody and secondly, a bridge that modulates temporarily to a new key.
Lesson 1 - Extra Vocal and Melodic Layers - 15.33
Lesson 2 - More Breakdowns - 24.24
Lesson 3 - Making a Bridge - 30.31



Rob Jones

Rob is a classically trained musician, with piano as his primary instrument, and obtained a degree in music and sound recording (the prestigious Tonmeister course) from the University of Surrey. Having honed his skills both at University and in the studios in London where he worked in a technical role, he began releasing music on labels like Lot49, Dead Famous and Erase, under the artist name Anarchy Rice. Rob has been at the forefront of music software training since the very beginning, having kicked things off at Focusrite back in 2006. With both classical music and technical sound qualifications, as well as a wealth of presenting experience, he is ideally suited to the role of an online music trainer, and is 100% dedicated to sharing his knowledge and assisting others with what he believes to be one of the most rewarding things in life - making music!