Film Music 101: Arranger

Another individual (or group of individuals) who serve an important function in getting a film score put together is the arranger.

An arranger should not be confused with an orchestrator. An orchestrator takes the composer’s piano score and fleshes it out into a full-bodied orchestral score. Arrangement, by contrast, takes a pre-existing musical work and re-arranges it by adding new musical themes, new transitions or whatever is necessary to make an old work fit in a new context.

Take for example the main theme from the Mission Impossible film series. The title theme (featuring a lighted fuse) was taken from the original theme written for the television series in the 1960s.

The Mission Impossible film series now contains five films: Mission Impossible (1996), Mission Impossible II (2000), Mission Impossible III (2006), Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (2011) and Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation (2015). For each film’s title sequence, the music has been arranged to fit the context of the new film, though the core of the music remains intact. Listen to the examples below and you’ll see what I mean (the biggest contrast, in my opinion, comes in the title sequence for Mission Impossible II, it has a definitive 2000-era vibe).

You can thank the arranger for the different sound of the music in each title sequence. So hard to believe that the first Mission Impossible movie opened TWENTY YEARS AGO!! Hope you enjoyed!

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