Arranging Today’s Pop Chorals

By Michael Spresser,
Alfred Pop & Lawson-Gould Editor

In the history of choral music, the arranging of popular music is still a relatively new phenomenon. Some of the earliest arrangements of popular songs of the day were developed in the 1930s, when Fred Waring and his Pennsylvanians became one of the first ensembles known for singing ‘pop’ music. As you know, many of today’s current top pop songs are lyrically inappropriate, lack a strong melody, or the melody simply isn’t conducive to choral harmony.

What does Alfred look for in a current pop choral arrangement? Many of the same things that are found in any successful choral composition:

– Does the melody stay within an appropriate range and tessitura for developing voices?

– Does the arranger use the best voice-leading possible? In other words, do the parts move in a way that help a singer experience success?

– Does the arrangement allow for proper and healthy vocal technique?

– Does the arrangement replicate the sound of the original while allowing for solid choral harmony?

– Does the arrangement encourage the building of listening skills and the teaching of basic musical concepts?

– Does the accompaniment enhance, while still supporting, the choral parts?

– Is the arrangement rhythmically accurate (true to the original), without being difficult to read?

– Does the arrangement allow solo opportunities where appropriate?

All of these questions, and more, are considered when we select our current pop arrangements. Arrangements that maintain choral integrity while also maintaining the style of the original are the hallmark of our Alfred publications.

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