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udiscovermusic. picks 20 of the best music arrangers over the past century. Artists you've heard but not seen

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You may not know they exist, but the best music arrangers can lift a song to new heights, making all the difference to whether it's a hit or not. Any musical composition can be reconceptualised – Franz Liszt arranged his own works for piano and transformed Bach's organ music – and the best music arrangers in jazz, pop and rock have become world famous. (Quincy Jones and Nelson Riddle are just two of the absolute modern masters.)

Music arrangers can decide which instruments will be used, which notes will be repeated, and what sections of the music are repeated and in which order. Their subtle changes to the choice of instruments, tempo, key or time signature can make all the difference to the success of the final record.

Here we pick 20 of best arrangers in popular music over the past century. The list could have run to triple figures, and some wonderful arrangers just miss out, including Herb Alpert, Booker T Jones, Mike Post, Jack Nitzsche, Jimmie Haskell, HB Barnum, Harold R Battiste, Nile Rodgers, Pee Wee Ellis, Bobby Martin, Jeremy Lubbock, Nick Ingham, Isaac Hayes, Neil Hefti, Don Sebesky, Michel Legrand, Andre Previn, Don Sebesky and Christian McBride. Arrangement has moved with the times: Larry Gold is today one of the go-to arrangers for strings on hip-hop records. Our 20 best music arrangers are listed in order of chronology by birth. Think we've missed one of your favourites?

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