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I always have a hard time arranging for piano. I could compose a song with a main melody and chords like a lead sheet. But its always hard for me to arrange this.. is there any theory or any musical knowledge or tips I should know when arranging in piano ?

closed as too broad by David Bowling, ttw, MattPutnam, Dom Sep 3 '18 at 22:56

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As in all art, study what HAS been done, LISTEN to what you're doing.

One tip is NOT to write melody in the right hand, block chords in the left. This gives a muddy sound. Write a strong bass line. There's are many ways to fill in some harmony other than just plonking down a series of triads.

And if it IS a song ('song' seems to be used for anything from a rap to a symphony these days) think whether the piano needs to play the melody at all. Maybe the voice can handle it?

I'd say 'look at published song copies'. But they're often unplayable guides to the song, not what you'd actually play. Maybe look more at 'classical' songs, where the composer wrote what was actually to be played. Schubert still has lots to teach a modern pop song writer!

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You'll want to be familiar with piano solo style. For instance, find other songs that have been arranged for piano and take note of how the arranger brings out the melody (do they use full chord voicing in the right hand with the melody in octaves?), and how the harmonies are represented (broken arpeggios in left hand, block chords, etc).

I would also suggest simply playing through your melodic line while playing your selected harmonies in the left hand, and think of what you can do to "spice things up" a little from that. You may even find some chord substitutions that you like, which is a huge part of my personal arranging.

But again, if no ideas immediately come to you about embellishing beyond simple chording, the best source of inspiration would be to find an piano arrangement you like (of a tune you know), and take note of the devices used by the arranger.

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