How to Arrange a Song from Scratch – Easy Intros

“Music Arranging:

Adding Easy Intros”

 

  • How to Add an Intro to a Song
  1. Reviewing “My Journey” – A & B Sections
  2. What is the Purpose of an Intro
  • Original Examples of Easy Intros
  1. Two Bar Intros
  2. Four Bar Intros

 

How to Arrange a Song from Scratch - Easy Intros

In my last arranging post “How to Arrange a Song from Scratch – A & B Sections“, I discussed how to put the A and B sections together of a song, how to choose between the parallel and relative minors, further development of a melody and how to use different rhythms in the left hand.

 

 

In my most recent article “Popular Songs Intros in D minor & D major” I came up with several examples of existing intros. My goal was to give you an idea of how they were working in relation to the rest of a song.

This post will focus, laid out with original examples,  on how to compose an intro (introduction) for my song “My Journey”.

 

How to Add an Intro to a Song

“Reviewing My Journey – A & B Sections”

It has been quite a while since I finished my last post in the series of “How to Arrange a Song from Scratch”, so I would like to refresh your memory by putting up my last youtube video and accompanying chart of the song “My Journey”:

My Journey Example 9 Rehearsal Letters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“What is the Purpose of an Intro”

Before I start discussing all the different examples, I think it is a good idea to reiterate what an intro is used for: “A short instrumental piece of music meant to introduce the mood and tonality (key) of a song”. Keep this in mind while looking and listening to the next examples.

 

Original Examples of Easy Intros

“Two Bar Intros”

Example 1:

My Journey - Intro Example 1

 

 

 

 

I kept this very simple, yet the chords C, F & G in the left hand relate to the A section of “My Journey Example 9″ below the video.

I just made it shorter so it would fit into two bars. Often intros can be a shortened version of the main sections.

 

Example 2:

My Journey - Intro Example 2

 

 

 

 

Same as example 1 but with added two note chords in the right hand to establish a broader and major sound.

Note the movement of common tones (same tones) and steps of the notes in the right hand chords, E – F – G in the top voice and C – C – B in the bottom,  it makes the overall sound much smoother.

 

Example 3:

My Journey - Intro Example 3

 

 

 

 

The chords are still the same as in examples 1 & 2, but played in a more melodic way.  We can say that the notes of the chords are played in arpeggio style.

To turn chords into arpeggios just use the notes of each chord and play them one after each other, like a melody. So to review the notes of the chords used above, we use C E G for the C chord, F A C for F and G B D for G .  All these notes are called chord tones.

Most of the time you can also use passing tones in arpeggios. Passing tones are non-chord tones such as the two, four and six. When we look again in the r.h. at the first bar you can see that I use the two on the fourth beat.

Usually a passing tone moves on to a chord tone, in this case the two moves on to the root (one). For labeling chord and passing tones in a scale, look at the chart below:

C Major Scale - Chord & Passing Tones

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t worry about all these freaking rules! Just use the notes of the scale and juggle around until you have found something suitable.

 

Example 4:

My Journey - Intro Example 4

 

 

 

 

Exactly the same as example 3 except that everything is transposed up one octave. Sometimes you can do this depending on the adjacent section (A section in this case).

Go to your piano and play both examples three and four connecting with example 9 at the beginning of this post. See which one  connects better. I think both examples will work.

However it also depends on what atmosphere you want to lay down. Do you like a dreamy, fairy-tale mood or do you prefer a more established, feet-on-the-ground feeling?

“Four Bar Intros”

Example 5:

My Journey - Intro Example 5

 

 

 

 

To get to this example there are six initial ones needed. Lets have a look:

 

Example 5 prep 1:

My Journey Intro Exmaple 5 Prep 1

 

 

 

 

This is the most basic form to start off with. We have four chords C, G, F and G which are all triads (three note chords) in root position. Looking at the left hand we can see that the distances between the chords are quite big, so our aim is to get rid of this and make it smoother by applying inversions. In the three charts below are all the inversions of C, F and G:

C Major Triad Inversions

 

 

 

F Major Triad Inversions

 

 

 

G Major Triad Inversions

 

 

 

 

 

 

Example 5 prep 2:

My Journey Intro Exmaple 5 Prep 2

 

 

 

 

Looking at the left hand chords you can now see that they descend nicely by step. In order to achieve this we have to use some inversions. In bar 1 the C is still in root position, bar 2 we have to use the 1st inversion of G, bar three the 1st inversion of F and in bar four the root position of G.

You also noticed that the chord symbols in the second and third bars have changed to G/B and F/A. This means that B and A are becoming the new bass notes instead of G and F in the previous example.

 

Example 5 prep 3:

My Journey Intro Exmaple 5 Prep 3

 

 

 

 

Since the chords in the left hand go quite low, they sound muddy. By leaving out the middle note it takes away the clutter and adds clearness.

The next step is to look at the right hand chords. At this stage they are all in root position. The distance between the C and G chords is quite a lot. The target is to have a nice stepwise descending line, similar to the left hand.

 

Example 5 prep 4:

My Journey Intro Exmaple 5 Prep 4

 

 

 

 

That’s it, a nice stepwise descending line without jumping. We have to follow the same procedure as in the left hand by using inversions. The C chord in the first bar has gone up and is now in 2nd inversion, the G and F chords in the second and third bars stayed in root position and the G in the fourth bar went down to the second inversion.

 

Example 5 prep 5:

My Journey Intro Exmaple 5 Prep 5

 

 

 

 

In the next step we would like to change the chords in the previous example from close to open position. These carry a nice open sound. How to do this? Just take out the middle note and transpose it down an octave.

In Jazz we call this Drop 2 and this technique can also be used with other instrumental groups, such as brass, woodwinds and strings (we will discuss this in a later post).

The middle notes of the four chords were C, B, A and G and as you can see in this example they are now at the bottom. Look at the next example, we have to do one more thing before we can change it into arpeggios.

 

Example 5 prep 6:

My Journey Intro Exmaple 5 Prep 6

 

 

 

 

Playing the chords in your right hand in open position can be quite straining, since the distance between the top and bottom notes are a minor or major 10th apart. Some people with small hands can only reach an octave, playing 10ths would be impossible.

So in order to avoid this we transfer the bottom notes from the open position chords in the right hand to the left hand. They now become the top notes of the left hand chords. As you can see the distance between the top and bottom notes are only an octave apart, so this can be played by anybody.

We are now ready to go back to example 5 and change to texture from harmonic (chords) to melodic (arpeggios).

 

A recap of today’s post:

  • I’ve reviewed the last post of “My Journey” – A & B sections
  • I’ve reiterated what the purpose of an intro is
  • I’ve shown you two and four bar original examples of easy intros

 

If you like the pdf version of my post, opt-in to my mailing list

 

This post actually consists out of thirteen examples and that means that, as I had to do so many times with previous posts, I had to split it into two halves. In the next post “How to Arrange a Song from Scratch – Advanced Intros” I will deal with the rest of the examples.

 

About the Author:

Hans Hansen is the author and founder of “The Music Arrangers Page” and is always happy to share his passion for music arranging. In addition, he is a well experienced piano & bass guitar teacher, specializing in classical, rock and jazz. Any questions you have about music arranging; he is the person to ask. He also likes to invite you to download his Special Free Gift and connect with him on Facebook & Twitter or leave a comment on his blog.


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  1. How to Arrange a Song from Scratch - Advanced Intros | The Music Arrangers Page — June 30, 2013 @ 1:12 pm

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