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The “Yellow” Song by Coldplay: Arrangement Plan Essay

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Updated: Jun 10th, 2020


Orchestration and arrangement require advanced knowledge of the arranging concepts and the role of all instruments in the orchestra. It is important to take even the slightest elements into consideration as far as everything matters when it comes to music. A lot can be said about the significance of the arrangement. The particular music may be brilliant but without proper arrangement, it can become a total failure. The significance of arrangement can be illustrated in a simple example. One has to imagine a beautiful new house. Thus, the house is very music while the arrangement is everything that makes the house unique and lives such as pictures, carpets, design, etc. In the following paper, I am going to provide an arrangement plan for the song Yellow by Coldplay.

General Vision of Arrangement

The British alternative rock group Coldplay released Yellow in 2000. This song brought the group immediate popularity as far as it became the top song of all British music charts of those times. The single was from the album Parachutes. The vision of arrangement is predetermined by the aim and general tone of the song under evaluation. Thus, Yellow can be described as a nostalgic song about lost love and unrequited feelings. The song was awarded Grammy in the nomination for the Best Alternative Music Album.

In the following paper, the arrangement plan will comprise of string quartet and piano. The original version of the song is played with the usage of many more instruments. One can state that string quartet and piano cannot achieve the same effect as instruments used by the group. However, the aim of the current arrangement is to improve personal professionalism and skills via the ability to render the meaning and overall tone of the song with five instruments.

Role and Arrangement of Instruments

According to Newhouse (n.d.), a good arrangement has to render the totality of ideas and moods of music with the help of musical instruments. Also, it is necessary to utilize various tone colors to reveal particular emotions of the composition. The power of instruments should be harmonized with the idea of the composition as well. I would like to emphasize the fact that a good arrangement should not contain many instruments. Five elements are usually employed for the arrangement of popular songs. According to Johnson and Poyser (n.d.), ‘Laying on more and more parts may be a waste of time as there is only so much the brain can follow before the sound turns into mush and the impact of the individual parts is lost’.

A string quartet and piano will be used for the arrangement. The list of instruments includes violin 1, violin 2, viola, cello, and piano. According to Galletis (2009), all instruments belong to the group of main orchestral strings. The image Seating Orchestra (n.d.) has been used as the basis for choosing the most appropriate location of musical instruments. Basically, string instruments are always situated in the foreground. Violins are the most important for the arrangement, and they are located at the very front. Viola and cello should be situated right after violins to provide an impressive background for the composition. The piano should be located at one of the sides, either right or left, in relation to the main instruments.

Strings play the most significant role in the orchestra as far as they can produce versatile and gentle sounds (Orchestra and Orchestration n.d.). Violin I is the main instrument, and it has a leading part in the arrangement. It starts sounding from the ninth bar. Viola and cello have purely accompanying functions while violin II is also important for the rendering of the particular tone. There are shifts in roles between violin I and violin II. For instance, the leading role of violin I am given to violin II in bars 21-24 (Yellow n.d.). The piano will be used to make music more expressive in bars 39-45 when the legato tempo is employed.

Musical Elements

A variety of items is crucial for the formation of essential melodic, rhythmic, and harmonic points in the arrangement. The efficient melodic points in the arrangement can be achieved with the help of a homophonic texture. Adler (2002) writes that melody with accompaniment is the predominant type of homophonic texture. This type is utilized in the arrangement as well. For instance, in bars 49-54, violin I play the main melody that is accompanied by violin II, viola, and cello.

The string arrangement technique known as divisi is used for the division of instruments’ parts. Four-part harmony is to be achieved with the help of divisi. In the arrangement under consideration, I have decided to divide instruments from the lowest to the highest parts. Thus, violin I have to play soprano while violin II — alto. The role of the viola is to provide tenor while cello — bass. One should not forget about the piano that serves as the filler in mentioned 39-45 bars.

As far as no percussions are used to create distinct rhythm, various tempos are used to make the composition interesting and avoid monotony. Throughout the scores, one can find notes about required tempos (expressive, legato, lyrical, or robust).

Reference List

Adler, S 2002, The Study of Orchestration, W.W Norton & Co, New York.

Galletis, H 2009, Musical Concepts, John Wiley & Sons Australia, South Melbourne.

Johnson, D & Poyser, D n.d., Arranging Pop, 2015. Web.

Newhouse, B n.d., Orchestration 1, 2015. Web.

n.d., 2015. Web.

n.d., online image, English-online.at, 2015. Web.

Yellow n.d., 2015. Web.

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