Things for me not to forget while arranging:
1. Try to make sure they don’t all sound the same. Hard to do, given the constraints of the instrument, and especially when I’m doing a lot of songs by the same songwriter. (Joe Pass and Ted Green are, to me, the kings in this area, and even they had trouble on this score.) Things to vary:
- Key. Don’t put them all in the same one, even if it’s comfortable.
- Tempo. Not just fast vs. slow, but strict vs. rubato.
- Texture. For me this comes down to two broad approaches. In one, the arrangement is almost all melody and no harmony. Chords are suggested more than played. In the other, the chords are a much larger part of the picture.
3. AABA, in the absence of lyrics, can also be short. Most of these songs have a less-well-known verse before the widely-known chorus. These are often as much fun to play as the verses. Failing that, it’s time to compose intros, extended turnaround and endings. These are solo pieces, not ensembles – no one’s going to be trying to improvise over what I play, so there’s no reason not to fool with the structure of the piece. There’s also the option of going through the song a second time in a new key.
PS: All also true of Christmas songs.