Skip to main content
A-Z IndexCalendarsDirectoryMaps

Background Image for Header:

Home / Academics / Careers / Music Composers and Arrangers Career

Music Composers and Arrangers Career

Career Description

Write and transcribe musical scores.

What Job Titles Music Composers and Arrangers Might Have

  • Film Composer
  • Music Arranger
  • Music Composer
  • Music Producer

What Music Composers and Arrangers Do

  • Apply elements of music theory to create musical and tonal structures, including harmonies and melodies.
  • 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.
  • Explore and develop musical ideas based on sources such as imagination or sounds in the environment.
  • Write music for commercial mediums, including advertising jingles or film soundtracks.
  • 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.

What Music Composers and Arrangers Should Be Good At

  • Near Vision - The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Written Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
  • Fluency of Ideas - The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).
  • Speech Recognition - The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.

What Music Composers and Arrangers Should Be Interested In

What Music Composers and Arrangers Need to Learn

  • Fine Arts - Knowledge of the theory and techniques required to compose, produce, and perform works of music, dance, visual arts, drama, and sculpture.
  • Computers and Electronics - Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
  • Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Communications and Media - Knowledge of media production, communication, and dissemination techniques and methods. This includes alternative ways to inform and entertain via written, oral, and visual media.
  • Sales and Marketing - Knowledge of principles and methods for showing, promoting, and selling products or services. This includes marketing strategy and tactics, product demonstration, sales techniques, and sales control systems.

This page includes information from O*NET OnLine by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (USDOL/ETA). Used under the CC BY 4.0 license.