1) ensure there is a good mixture of songs in the repertoire including:

A) Uptunes (a good opener and a good closer)
B) Rhythm
C) Ballads
D) Novelty (eg. Soul, Gospel, comedy, parody, classical)

2) Ensure a choice of contestable uptunes and ballads.

3) When refreshing repertoire, dropping and replacing songs ensure you maintain a balance of songs in categories 1 and 2

Specific characteristics of a song for your chorus

1) One which the director likes and majority of the chorus likes (something which is an earworm tends to be a positive signal),

2) Which the audience will like,

3) Which is within the capability of the chorus

A) tenors not above B
B) leads not above a G
C) Baris not above an F
D) basses not below an F

4) Is not too difficult to learn for other technical reasons eg chromatics, rhythm and the genre of the music (eg Calypso !!)

5) Which has manuscript music and associated learning tracks readily available

6) Is within the budget of the chorus

7) Check the lyrics especially with respect to controversial areas e.g. racist, misogynist, sexual religious connotations.

8) Songs for Contest.

You can check if the next song planned for your group has been previously used in contest, and how it scored. To access this database please click here The results include data up to Quartet Prelims, each year. The current listing is for 2019.

Factors to Consider


Buy a published

Buy an
unpublished arrangement

Commission a
new arrangement


The most

More complicated

The most

Arranged yet?

Already arranged
and ready to go.

Already arranged
and ready to go.

You’ll have to wait for the arranger, but it will be bespoke for your group.

Copyright Clearance?

Copyright clearance is usually already obtained (but check it is valid in the UK).

You will have to get rights from the copyright owner in the UK.

You will have to seek permission from the copyright owner in the UK to have it arranged and to buy the right to print copies.


Lots of other groups could sing this

Less likely to be
sung by other

If you have an exclusive agreement with the arranger only your group will be allowed to use the arrangement.


This depends on the source of the music and can be complicated by shipping and sometimes import duty costs.

This can be the lowest cost especially for small groups like quartets and octets. There may however be arrangers fees that have to be paid.

This is usually the most expensive as you may have to pay the arranger and for permission from the UK Copyright Holder.

Usual copyright rules…

Every member of your group must have a legal, original copy (or photocopy) of the music. See the Copyright Section for more information.