Listen, listen, listen. There's absolutely no substitute for experience, so be sure to analyse the arrangement of all your favorite tracks. Listen to what other producers have done and try to figure out why it works (or doesn't work as the case may be).

Don't feel like you have to use a dull old fade out at the end of your track. If it's an album or radio track, you can have an abrupt finish, or one that's not at the end of a bar-if the music just stops dead, people will notice and consequently remember your tune.

Try fading in a track through the intro, perhaps over a sound effect, such as running water or whatever you want. The classic 80's house cut 'Sueno Latino' uses this technique for a stunning effect.

You dont have to have an intro at all, and a number of tunes, particularly hip-hop tracks, do perfectly well without. A popular technique is to have the vocal start slightly before the instrumental, with the beats and music kicking in quickly on bar 1, beat 1.

Layering is powerful! Layering is the key to getting a pro sound. Not only does it add fatness to your parts, its more a question of sonic variation. If you have a plinky lead riff, for example, use a more rounded synth part with a more sustained envelope playing the same pattern over the chorus (and try compreesing them toegether for extra oomph).

If you happen to have a guitar part in your arrangement, why not begin the track with it and kick everything else in afterwards?

If you want to liven up your chord track a little in different sections, try having various synth pads play the notes of your chords, one for each note.

Don't underestimate the power of vocals. Dont be shy of dropping out everything but the vocal in sections of your arrangment.

If you need to fill out your choruses, try reinforcing your vocal with an instrument part playing the same notes.

Arrangment should be fun, so dont get bogged down trying to squeeze large round pegs into small square holes - if a part isn't working with everything else, ditch it!

If you have any music arrangment tips you swear by please leave a comment and I will add it to the post
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backyard hangout said...

yeah, i have a cool one that just about always works.... i do tons of backing vocal arrangements all over the place, and then even more on the end choruses, so then as a trick i try using chop ups of that stuff and stick 'em in to the intro, so you end up embellishing end theme's by giving pepered smatterings of them in the intro.... people seem to love it.
by the way great great blog man, am learning tons from you, thanks a million

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Djs York PA said...

fading the music is a great idea. I have been trying to find a way to finish off my songs instead of just stopping them.