EXPLORING JAZZ ARRANGING
USING GARRITAN JAZZ & BIG BAND
INTERACTIVE EDITION

by Chuck Israels




Lesson 9 - Melody & Orchestration (Continued)


Creating and orchestrating a coherent and balanced melody (Continued):



The guitar is a tenor instrument and sounds an octave lower than it is written. In most cases, it sounds best in that register and blends well with other instruments when written in the staff. If it is used to add intensity to a passage, writing in the octave above the staff can be effective.

There is also the possibility of combining a percussive sound with a wind instrument, such as guitar and tenor saxophone, or vibraphone and trumpet (perhaps in a cup mute). There can be reasons for making that choice, but it is useful to understand that the results are not exclusively positive. In other words, the differences between the two instrumental families in attack and decay can work to obscure expressive characteristics as well as reinforce them. Usually a combination of both reinforcement and blurring occur. That’s not necessarily a negative thing, but it should be recognized when combining instruments this way. In such cases, unison rather than octave doublings achieve a better blend.




Score References & Musical Examples Using JABB:


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By combining more winds on this line, the individual character of each instrument is further obscured. Here is a weighty orchestration – trumpet and alto saxophone in unison, doubled by trombone, and tenor and baritone saxophones an octave lower.



Score References & Musical Examples Using JABB:


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Here is the continuation of the line more lightly orchestrated with trumpet in cup mute and alto saxophone in the original octave, flute an octave higher, and trombone in bucket mute doubled with bass clarinet in the lower octave.




Score References & Musical Examples Using JABB:


Click on Play Button below to Play from the Score




Here is an excerpt of a melody with a different character.
It was originally written as a solo for the baritone saxophone, and it’s a beautiful example of matching the character of the music to an appropriate sound. This register of the baritone has a feeling of resistance, as if the player must work against the weight of the sound to get the notes to sing, and that gives assertiveness and importance to the melody. The range and contour of the tune is also appropriate for the trombone, and that might be an alternate choice, but the trombone sounds easier in this range, and some intensity would be lost with that choice.

If a brass instrument were called for, a good choice would be the French horn, an instrument whose sound has even more weight and resistance. Compare this example to the one that follows, where the key has been lowered in order to adjust the range for a trumpet in harmon mute. The key change has little effect on the accompanying parts, but puts the trumpet in an effective register. The harmon-muted trumpet may be the only instrument in the normal jazz arsenal that needs a microphone and amplification to be heard in balance with the rhythm section. This same passage played without the mute would lose the intensity provided by the mute’s resistance and have to be played at a higher volume level to maintain its strength of character, in which case moving it back to the original key might produce better results.





Score References & Musical Examples Using JABB:


Click on Play Button below to Play from the Score






Score References & Musical Examples Using JABB:


Click on Play Button below to Play from the Score



Analyze this melody to see how the motives of 3rds and 6ths are developed, and how the embellished figure is used to add interest to the held note and link the phrases.

In orchestrating the exposition of the melody for Monkey Business, Dave Berger made the decision to put the introduction in the piano mostly because the piece is an homage to the style created by Hall Overton for the famous Monk big band performances and recordings in which the performances always start with Monk calling the band into action from the piano. It’s easier to start three people playing together than sixteen, so there’s that advantage too. As soon as the piano has announced the motive (based on a tritone turn) and developed it into an 8-measure introduction, the theme is presented in unison alto saxophone and trumpet, accompanied first by the rhythm section alone and later by 3 trombones with the baritone saxophone on the bottom voice. (In a band with 4 trombones, the baritone part might have been assigned to the bass trombone, saving the sound of the baritone for an important entrance in the bridge.) There is a contrapuntal figure that enters near the end of the phrase in unison trumpets in the low-middle register. The contrasting bridge is a solo for soprano saxophone that dips into its lowest register where the instrument has a characteristically broad sound. The melodic material for this comes from a development of the intervals in the main theme, tritones contracting to perfect 4ths and then expanding to 6ths and 5ths. The soprano is accompanied by a dark texture in the tenors and baritone in unison and simple, but rich, harmony.

This excerpt shows the material in a condensed, concert score.



Score References & Musical Examples Using JABB:


Click on Play Button below to Play from the Score






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