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About the Musical Arrangement

Oftentimes, when composers find a piece of music that they really like, they will decide to create their own arrangement of it. In music, an arrangement is a musical reworking of a previously composed piece. It may differ from the original work in harmony, may paraphrase the melody, use different instruments, and/or take on a different genre or form.

For example, when Mozart first discovered Bach’s music, he took the manuscripts home, copied them, and then wrote his own arrangements of them. Listen to Mozart's take on Bach's fugues below.

Click here to listen and learn about how Bach's music lives on today, taken from Track 4 on Maestro Classics' Bach and the Pipe Organ album.

Handel's Hallelujah Chorus from his Messiah is another example of a piece that has been used for arrangements. Listen to Handel's original Hallelujah Chorus here.

Quincy Jones composed his own take on the Hallelujah Chorus. Listen below!

Have you listened to The Swan from Saint-Saëns' Carnival of the Animals? Listen here! This is one of the best-known works of all time for the cello. However, The Swan has been arranged for a plethora of other instruments, including an arrangement for flute and classical guitar by by Guy Bergeron. Listen and watch below.

What do you think? It seems like great tune can be arranged for many different instruments and still be GREAT!


Check out the first page of the musical score for The Swan below. On the left is the first page of the original version written for cello and two pianos. On the right is the first page of the arrangement for flute and guitar.

Enjoy listening!



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