Arranging Music

by Heidrun Dolde
(English translation by Eileen Lowry and Carol Sissons)

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First: to create good music you need two things: the desire to try different things out and a lot of time. Sometimes, it will take hours or even days to arrange a single piece with registrations!

Basically, the best source for successful instrumentation is found in the original song.  It is worthwhile to listen closely to it and take note of how the solo, accompanying voices and the rhythm instruments are used - if they are used.

Here is a list of what should be observed in order to provide good instrumentation:

  • Voice: which instrumental voice is used as solo and should be highlighted in the mix?
  • With newer keyboards also consider old legacy voices (in Legacy, XG & GM folder)
  • You can use Left Hand voice as a solo voice if required, not only as a background accompaniment

You may combine the main instrument with other instruments that support / reinforce the sound with similar coloration. In doing so, take into account the suggestions provided below.

Mixing Console

  • Use three-dimensional registrations

    1. Pan (Stereo: Left - center-right, used for multiple instruments.)

    2. Reverb (Create different spatial depth of the Voices with different amount of reverb.)

    3. Octave (Take into account the octave position when using voices from the same instrument family. Don't use two of the same voices (eg. 2 clarinets or 2 pianos) in the same octave as this will produce unpleasant overlays or sound cancellation.)

  • Use Filters to make the sound softer or sharper and give a different sound coloration. This effect is often underestimated.
  • Use the Harmony / Echo effect specifically for orchestral instrumentation (octave and order of the selected voices should be taken into account - they play a large role.)
  • Use Effects EQ to alter the balance of individual voices by taking elements (bass/treble) up or down.
  • Use Mono effects specifically for solo instruments. Notice to set the Portamento value (on the Tune Page of the Mixing Console) to zero if the effect is not wanted.

Voice Set

This is a useful tool that allows you to adjust the sound by changing the touch sensitivity, frequency or envelope.  There are five different pages in this section which can be altered to your liking.  You don't need to store these as Custom Voices, you can just store them to your registration bank.

Foot pedals

Foot pedals can be set to act very specifically on individual voices. This creates many more opportunities for sound variation and can affect volume, sustain or other instrument related pedal-settings such as the glide effect with a harmonica.


These are well worth trying out to see which effects suit you. 

You can adjust each style separately in the mixing console (volume, pan, filters, etc.) and you can, of course, also change the instruments.

Be cautious when changing an instrument to a Mega Voice if the style wasn't originally written using Mega Voice, as you will get unwanted squeaks and noises. 

You can mute various voices in each style by using the Channel ON/OFF switch to temporarily switch off those voices you don't want.

Other important points

  • Multiple split points (you may split your keyboard into 3 parts.)
  • You can now syncro-start Multipads so that they start with the style.
  • Use meaningful names and icons for your registrations and set up a meaningful folder hierarchy for saving your files and providing quick reference.

For good tips on data organization, see the Organizing Files article in this section.

Finally, an extra tip on how you can learn to orchestrat.:

Get hold of some good registrations that are already set up for you. The OTS settings that come with the styles can be a good place to start, however, registrations are better because they can also contain footswitch assignments, style revoicing etc.

As so often in life, it's a matter of trial and error, and taking the time to explore the available options. I wish you good luck on achieving better musical arrangements.


(The original tutorial, Arrangieren und Instrumentieren, is available on Heidrun's Tyros3/4/5 website.)

This page updated on January 12, 2017 .