Arrangement refers to the adaptation of a pre-existing work of music for performance in a form other than that for which it was originally composed. Arrangement is distinct from composition, which is the creation of a work that is altogether new. Arrangement can involve the modification of characteristics such as melody, harmony, meter, and so on (as, for example, in Jazz musician Jacques Loussier’s adaptation of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons). However, the term most immediately calls to mind an adaptation for a different combination of instruments. Arrangement has had a long musical history.

To name just a few additional well known examples from Classical and popular music: Johann Nepomuk Hummel arranged some of Mozart’s symphonies for flute, piano, cello and violin; Liszt arranged Beethoven’s nine symphonies for piano; Ravel arranged Musorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition for orchestra; the a capella group The King’s Singers have arranged numerous orchestral pieces for vocal performance; and the Finnish cello quartet Apocalyptica has arranged the music of the heavy metal band Metallica for three cellos and drums.


References to other Glossary terms: