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What is a typical day like as a music composer/arranger?

Can you explain the type of feelings that may come with being a music composer?

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Kyle’s Answer

Hi Rashaan!

There really isn't a normal day for us musicians. Every day has a different puzzle to figure out. As a composer/arranger, most of the time you're trying to figure out what a client needs for their project and how to adapt the music to fit that goal. If you're working for yourself as an artist, then work would revolve around what type of music and message you're trying to put out in the world. However, most composer/arrangers are working with a group, company, or another artist and trying to fit their music into a bigger goal. This means that some days you're figuring out how to write music for a choir and the next might be programming synth sounds to sound like a big movie trailer and the following day is working with an indie artist who wants a little bit of Celtic vibe in their sound. The ability to learn quickly and adapt is the key trait that sets apart successful musicians in this field. Perhaps find a person who has done work similar to what you might want to do (Hans Zimmer, Questlove, David Foster, Pinar Toprak, etc) and look at all the things they've done and then realize that each of those projects was probably something new that they had to learn how to do - quickly! If you like those things, start trying to do some of that work now. You can find a song or project and try to write/arrange something that would fit it. You'll get better and continue to learn along the way. That's exactly how the big guys started.
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Marcelius Levites’s Answer

A typical day for a Music Composer and Arranger will also include:

Experiment with different sounds, and types and pieces of music, using synthesizers and computers as necessary to test and evaluate ideas.
Explore and develop musical ideas based on sources such as imagination or sounds in the environment.
Apply elements of music theory to create musical and tonal structures, including harmonies and melodies.
Transcribe ideas for musical compositions into musical notation, using instruments, pen and paper, or computers.
Score compositions so that they are consistent with instrumental and vocal capabilities such as ranges and keys, using knowledge of music theory.

We asked some Music Composers and Arrangers a few questions to find out what else does their work day look like. Here is what we found.

Do you have telephone conversations everyday in this job? 60% said yes
How important is it to work in a team in this job? 25% said very important
Do you have group discussions everyday in this job? 26% said yes
Do you talk or work with customers everyday in this job? 18% said yes
Do you have to deal with angry customers everyday in this job? 2% said yes
Do you have to make decisions everyday in this job? 45% said yes

Besides their typical day, Music Composers and Arrangers also accept commissions to create music for special occasions. They may also transpose music from one voice or instrument to another to accommodate particular musicians.

On a weekly to monthly basis, Music Composers and Arrangers guide musicians during rehearsals, performances, or recording sessions. They might also fill in details of orchestral sketches, such as adding vocal parts to scores.

In addition, they study original pieces of music to become familiar with them prior to making any changes.

Although specific duties may vary, many of them write changes directly into compositions, or use computer software to make changes.

To some Music Composers and Arrangers, it is also their responsibility to study films or scripts to determine how musical scores can be used to create desired effects or moods.

Working hours
More than 40 hours per week

Working schedule
Irregular work schedule that changes depending on weather conditions, customer demand or contract duration.

In a typical work week as a Music Composer and Arranger, you can expect to work more than 40 hours per week.

Is this right for me
Best personality for this career
The Artists and The Entrepreneurs

People who are suitable for this job tends to like working with forms, designs and patterns. They often require self-expression and the work can be done without following a clear set of rules..

They also like starting up and carrying out projects. They like leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.

You can read more about these career personality types here.

Take a quiz and see if Music Composers and Arrangers is the right career for you

I Hope this helped.