So I'm probably doing myself a disservice but according to a quick search on wikipedia...

An arrangement "is a musical adaptation of an existing compositition.... may include reharmonization, melodic paraphrasing, orchestration, or formal development."

A remix "(or reorchestration) is a piece of media which has been altered or contorted from it's original state by adding, removing, or changing pieces of the item."

Maybe it's the use of the term "orchestration" (or "reorchestration" for the latter definition) that's snagging me, but I feel they're very similar, perhaps all arrangements are remixes but not all remixes are arrangements?

I've always understood an arrangement is more or less going to be the same track. Same melodies, same chord progression, same pacing, essentially the same verses, chorus, etc... just played differently with minor changes. It's very easy to follow along and even sing to the arrangement (if lyrics existed in the original), without having to alter the lyrics much, if all. Essentially, one could play both the original and arrangement together and they'd generally mesh well. More often than not I'd see the term "arrangement" in of all places, VGMusic.

A remix on the other hand is a lot more elaborate from how I understood it. From completely altering the drums, to the chorus/verses, to maybe shifting lyrics around, completely changing or adding instruments/sounds that weren't there prior, but to a substantial amount that you may not be able to follow the song as easily. If one played an original piece and it's remix, it wouldn't necessarily mesh well. I remember in the early days of the internet when Napster/WinMX/LimeWire was common, it wasn't unusual to find "techno remix" versions of a song.

Is my understanding anywhere on point? In the above explanation, I'll often hear the "techno remixes" sometimes being wildly different from the source media. Different intros, drum beats, melodies, with hints of the original. Other times, it sounded mostly like the original song but with different instruments and drums, but melodies, lyrics, etc.. were all where they were - would that be more of a "techno arrangement"?

1 Answer 1


Arrangements are generally something that a composer or arranger would do (often, but not always, with a written score). They are typically done prior to recording, or in cases where there is no recording, for (or during) a live performance. For instance, you might arrange a piece that was originally for violin and piano for a full orchestra, or vice-versa. You also might arrange a vocal work for a jazz quintet, etcetera. (I'm not familiar with how the term is used in the world of video-game music, but I'd hazard a guess it just refers to a revoicing of the parts.) https://www.berklee.edu/berklee-today/what-arrangement-anyway

A remix is done post-recording. The recorded song, either as a whole, or deconstructed into individual parts, is combined with a new beat, or looped, or rearranged in some way.

You could potentially think of arranging as the older, analog version of remixing, but really, they are two entirely separate things, other than the fact that both alter a pre-existing piece of music to create something more-or-less new, but still recognizably a form of the original. Arrangements and remixes can both either be minor and subtle, or big and radical--there's no indication of degree.

Here's an example of an original song, Maroon 5's "Maps", an arrangement and a remix.

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    So in a more modern sense, taking a project file for a song (I'd imagine could be the digital equivalent of the written music BEFORE a recording) and changing it up would be an arrangement whereas taking a finished music file (WAV, MP3) or even various parts of a song (like when artists release a vocals-only version of the song) and changing things here would be a remix? Commented Feb 7 at 19:57
  • I'm only familiar with the traditional meaning of arrangement, but I'd imagine in the modern setting, this would be a pretty close parallel to that. // Remix is definitely post-recording. The original meaning of "remix" was to literally redo the final mix. As producers became more experimental, what you could expect to happen in a remix expanded.// Here's a remix youtube.com/watch?v=rlDe56hw_Ak and an arrangement youtube.com/watch?v=8gO_lxThc1M of the same original song youtube.com/watch?v=Y7ix6RITXM0 Commented Feb 7 at 20:12
  • I've gone back and forth mentally on whether working with a project file containing finished stems would be an arrangement or a remix. It might be in a place of overlap, depending on what you did with them. Commented Feb 7 at 20:25
  • The OP's definition of arrangement is closer to the actual definition than the one you give. There's no requirement that different arrangements are written. There are arrangements made for different instrumentations, but that is one of many aspects. All the features the OP mention go into possible aspects arrangements. Some bands even play with this Reel Big Fish show that off for this song: youtube.com/watch?v=n-IYEpXvCZw
    – Dom
    Commented Feb 9 at 19:21
  • @Dom - Why not make your own answer if you think mine is inaccurate? I'm going from the definition of arrangement I'm used to. You obviously have a different one. Perhaps it's more germane to the discussion at hand. I would consider my definition completely consonant with the one the OP provided from Wikipedia, but as I stated, it comes from an earlier era in music. Commented Feb 9 at 19:58

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