The Columbia University Marching Band


The Cleverest Band in the World™

Any member of CUMB, or really anyone at all, is encouraged to arrange music for us to play! Many of the pieces in our current repertoire were arranged by past and current bandies. If you are interested in arranging, please check with the Drum Major for possible suggestions and to make sure you don't arrange a song we already have!

So, where do you start?

  1. Find a software to help you arrange. We recommend MuseScore! It’s just like our exes – free, easy, and a cheap imitation of something real.
  2. Pick a song that would work well for the band. We play everything from Top 40 hits to 1950’s blues standards to anime theme songs. Try to make sure it would translate well to instruments – our trumpets can play, but they’re not very good at rapping through their horns.
  3. Consider only arranging part of the song. Our shorter arrangements tend to be around 75 seconds. If your arrangement is too long, we’ll probably never get to play the whole thing.
  4. For ease, you should transcribe your music in the original key of the song. (If you’re having trouble figuring out the notes, try looking for Piano/Synthesia transcriptions on YouTube.) But before you finish, transcribe the piece so that it’s in an easy key for band (between 0 and 4 flats in concert pitch), ‘cause we can’t read sharps.
  5. Don’t make your parts too complicated, rhythmically, melodically, or otherwise. You don’t need to write out every sixty-fourth note triplet to perfectly capture the subtle lyricisms of Taylor Swift – choose rhythms that represent the music without adding greatly to the difficulty.
  6. Send the Drum Major PDFs of each individual part as well as the MuseScore file.
  7. Bother the DM until they play your song at rehearsal! Slide into their dms, so to speak.

Arranging Standards

Keep measure numbers on the left side at the beginning of the lines, letters throughout the rest in a box (usually every eight measures or enough for rehearsal marks)

The more stylistic notations, the better! This includes articulations, dynamics, etc. Also be sure to mark any tempo changes.

Doubling of melody parts between sections is highly encouraged and recommended to ensure that pieces work with varying instrumentations (doubling flutes and clarinets; altos and mellos; tenors and trombones; etc.)

Current Instrumentation (in concert pitch)