The Power of Music Theory in Arrangement of Your Music Part 9


in Composition

Arranging the Christmas Song has been a fun series for me. I've had time to review some things I haven't done for awhile and break down some of the theory elements used in the arrangement.

Last time we left off adding some additional voice lines. I encouraged you to fill in measures 3 and 4 with your notes below the main melody line. How did you do?

Finishing measure 3 and 4 secondary lines.

Here's what I did:


You can see I played around with the D note with naturals, sharps, and flats. Let's take a quick run through to see what I added.

In beat one it was simple to add the D into the treble line which is our major 7th for the EbM7 chord.

As I moved to B7b9 the D# or 3rd of the chord was still missing and was another easy addition. Moving to the third beat  we moved down to a Bb-7 and the 3rd simple moved with it a half step to the D natural.

Now hold your horses, if this is a minor Bb doesn't the D have to be a Db for the minor 3rd? Well, yes. I decided in this case to change the chord to a major chord.

I threw that in there so you could see that I have the ability to modify the chord a little to see what I can do to drive the music. I might go back now and audition back and forth the minor and major chord to see what I like best for my arrangement. I have to balance overall chord flow and the internal voice flow.

To give this chord a little more hipness the 9th interval of C was added as well.

Again I'm pushing the envelop of notes but I do like what I'm hearing. This may not be my final arrangement, but I'm going to live with it for awhile to see if it grows on me. You may not like the sound until you get a bit more accustomed to it. If it's to much delete a couple of the notes, that's OK if you get the sound you like.

As we go to the fourth beat the 7th as a Db fits nicely in the progression of moving down from the D# and D natural to the Db.

Into the fourth measure the addition of the C (3rd) as part of the chord follows both the voice line and base chord structure as well. The Bb, well why not another 9th?

Why the 9th interval so often?

For me the ninth interval works really well with these jazz chords. Notice also that it's a major 9 and not a minor 9. The minor 9th is often an avoid tone and is not as pleasant a sound in most cases. Although it is something you can audition with the Bb-7 in beat 3 we were playing with earlier.

Here's the current version of the arrangement so far.


I didn't have enough time this week to record and edit any sound files. So next week we will review the whole series and play through the steps to hear the progression as we've moved through the series.

I've pulled out the entire arrangement and realize that it's pretty difficult to play. Maybe I just made it a little to complex. We've only investigated one half of the first part in the eight measures of the song.

There are 3 modified arrangements of the 8 measures. I'm still shooting for a Christmas eve recording. It may not be polished, but it should give you a flavor of the arrangement I worked on a couple of years ago.

Stay tuned.

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