EXPLORING JAZZ ARRANGING
USING GARRITAN JAZZ & BIG BAND
INTERACTIVE EDITION

by Chuck Israels




Lesson 10 - Melody & Orchestration (Continued)




Here is an example of how Garritan JABB can be used to experiment with other orchestration possibilities using the same material.




Score References & Musical Examples Using JABB:


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Here’s an example of a melody suited to the weight and power of the trombone. Open trombones, in solos and in sections, have a particularly noble sound that is unmatched by other jazz voices. This excerpt lies in the trombone’s middle register. (The rest of the tune reaches its climax on a G above middle C, a comfortably intense note on this instrument, making this an appropriate key for the piece.) Listen for the rhythmic development in this passage. All of the pickup notes arrive in expected places, but there is considerable development of the rhythm in the odd numbered measures.





Score References & Musical Examples Using JABB:


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The clarinet was a favorite instrumental color in Ellington’s pallet, and his music includes good examples of some of its functions. Here is a lead part clarinet part from Billy strayhorn’s arrangement of royal Garden Blues. in this register, the sound is supple and powerful and can be heard over the full band.


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Here is the same part transposed down two octaves (with one note changed in order to stay within the instrument’s range) into the low Chalumeau register (named for a precursor of the clarinet) where its character is transformed.
In this lowest octave, the sound of the clarinet broadens, gains weight, and loses some agility. Besides being useful for its special character as a solo voice, this register was a favorite of Ellington’s for use as the lowest part in a texture in which the upper voices were played by various combinations of other instruments.
(Classical soprano vocal and cup mute trombone in Transblucency; trumpet and trombone in tight plungers in Mood Indigo, Solitude, and Dusk; and 3 alto saxophones in Clarinet Lament.)


Score References & Musical Examples Using JABB:


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The same passage played by a bass clarinet sounds another octave lower and takes on a humorous character. Because modern bass clarinets have a low concert Bb, that melody note can be restored to its original octave, when the passage is assigned to this instrument.



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Sometimes it’s useful to create a sound for a passage that is purposefully separated in range and timbre. Here is a passage for piccolo and bass clarinet where the instruments sound 4 octaves apart.


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All of these examples have been designed to show a variety of instrumental possibilities for orchestrating melodies and lead lines using solo voices and combinations of two or three instruments. Only experience listening carefully to arrangements and remembering the sounds of the instruments will lead to the confident selection of appropriate instruments. Is the music more suitable for trumpet or flugelhorn, alto saxophone or clarinet, or a combination of instruments? As more unison voices are added the timbral possibilities multiply, but the nuances of individual expression that are present with one instrument playing a solo line become blurred and lost in the unison blend.

Melodies can also acquire different character when they are played by a full section of instruments, taking on mass and depth.

Here is a short passage for 4 open trumpets (written on one staff, but played by the whole section).



Score References & Musical Examples Using JABB:


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Using a cup mute, besides changing the timbre of the trumpet, creates resistance for the player and requires a stronger air stream for the same volume level. This can change the character of the trumpet section and make the sound at the same time less dominant and aggressive, but a little snappier, if the players make an effort to express the accents in the line. Brass instruments in comfortable middle registers can play quite softly without mutes, so mutes are most often used to change timbre, rather than dynamics. One exception is trumpets in Harmon mutes, which can only be played acoustically at a level that matches a very quiet dynamic in the rest of the band.

Here is an example of an energetic passage for the trumpet section in cup mutes.



Score References & Musical Examples Using JABB:


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In this example, the bass line needs the power and support of the trombone section to achieve its fullest effect. Adding the lower saxophones would increase the density of the line, but it would also add the saxophone’s characteristic raspy buzz and take away smoothness and clarity of attack.



Score References & Musical Examples Using JABB:


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The saxophone section is the most flexible and the best suited to rapid technical passages that require the maximum illusion of ease of execution. Here’s a passage that demonstrates that capacity and takes advantage of the full range of the section.




Score References & Musical Examples Using JABB:


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The sound of the saxophone is remarkably malleable, so passages that need blues inflection are well suited to the saxophone section. Here is such a passage using the saxophones in a range that permits a true unison (no octave doublings).



Score References & Musical Examples Using JABB:


Click on Play Button below to Play from the Score



It’s also possible to change the tone color as a melodic line progresses. The following example shows how that can be done with overlapping orchestration.


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These examples are designed to provide ideas and to direct listening experience towards expressive and colorful orchestration. Further listening to the arrangements of good jazz arrangers will hone the skills required to remember the sounds of individual instruments and orchestral combinations and increase the arranger’s confidence in making appropriate choices.

An orchestration guide showing range limits and register characteristics is provided in an appendix.






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Next Lesson: Lesson 11: The Rhythm Section