I just published a new arrangement on my sheet music page. It is a simple but (hopefully) stylized take on “Just As I Am.”
If you are in the Monthly Hymn Arrangement Club, don’t buy this one. You should have received it on Saturday.
There are various philosophies behind the arranging process. For example, many arrangers focus on painting the text as specifically as possible. They want the performer to be playing the words, and they want the melody prominent almost all the time. I would say that painting the text is the most common approach to arranging hymns. It is also the approach that most pianists want to see in the arrangements they play.
I tend to use a more abstract approach that, in my mind, I liken to impressionism. Rather than trying to paint words, I often try to paint a mood or big idea. Once I figure out what the overall message of the song is, I create a piece that reflects that message. When I am thinking that way, the original melody is important but I do not consider it so ultra-important that it has to be retained throughout the entire song. That is why you often see long intros and lots of other material in my music that does not contain the original melody at all.
You can see my impressionist approach throughout this arrangement. Especially in the last half of the song, there is a lot of hinting at the melody but with variations to incorporate some new ideas that hopefully support the overall impact of the piece. For that reason, this arrangement is a bit more on the abstract side.
If you don’t see the video below, here is the demo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ABzjdpuWXO0