Music Composers and Arrangers

Write and transcribe musical scores.

Median Annual Wage: $48,180

Education: Some college, no degree (26%); Bachelor's degree (22%); Less than high school diploma (16%)

Projected Growth: Slower than average (3% to 7%)

Related Job Titles: Creative Director; Music Composer; Music Arranger; Music Producer; Film Composer; Songwriter; Composer; Jingle Writer

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Source: O*NET OnLine information for Music Composers and Arrangers.

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  • Use computers and synthesizers to compose, orchestrate, and arrange music.
  • Determine voices, instruments, harmonic structures, rhythms, tempos, and tone balances required to achieve the effects desired in a musical composition.
  • Experiment with different sounds, and types and pieces of music, using synthesizers and computers as necessary to test and evaluate ideas.
  • Write changes directly into compositions, or use computer software to make changes.
  • Transcribe ideas for musical compositions into musical notation, using instruments, pen and paper, or computers.
  • Guide musicians during rehearsals, performances, or recording sessions.
  • Score compositions so that they are consistent with instrumental and vocal capabilities such as ranges and keys, using knowledge of music theory.
  • Write musical scores for orchestras, bands, choral groups, or individual instrumentalists or vocalists, using knowledge of music theory and of instrumental and vocal capabilities.
  • Confer with producers and directors to define the nature and placement of film or television music.
  • Fill in details of orchestral sketches, such as adding vocal parts to scores.
  • Write music for commercial mediums, including advertising jingles or film soundtracks.
  • Explore and develop musical ideas based on sources such as imagination or sounds in the environment.
  • Transpose music from one voice or instrument to another to accommodate particular musicians.
  • Rewrite original musical scores in different musical styles by changing rhythms, harmonies, or tempos.
  • Study original pieces of music to become familiar with them prior to making any changes.
  • Arrange music composed by others, changing the music to achieve desired effects.
  • Accept commissions to create music for special occasions.
  • Study films or scripts to determine how musical scores can be used to create desired effects or moods.
  • Create original musical forms, or write within circumscribed musical forms such as sonatas, symphonies, or operas.
  • Collaborate with other colleagues, such as copyists, to complete final scores.
  • Copy parts from scores for individual performers.

Source: O*NET OnLine information for Music Composers and Arrangers.

  • Writing - Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Judgment and Decision Making - Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Coordination - Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
  • Time Management - Managing one's own time and the time of others.
  • Complex Problem Solving - Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
  • Monitoring - Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.

Source: O*NET OnLine information for Music Composers and Arrangers.

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