by Chuck Israels

Lesson 19 - Writing for The Whole Band (Cont.)

Things to Consider When Using Full Band Tutti Textures:

Denser textures impede the rhythmic flow more than those smoother, more transparent textures with fewer voices. Fewer voices swing more. Unisons swing the most.

Denser, more complex, textures take more time to be absorbed by the ear and are therefore more suitable to slower moving passages where there is time to allow appreciation of the textural complexities.

If doubling the trumpet voicing in the trombones does not produce the desired results, another common method of distributing the chord voicing is to include the essential voices (7ths and 3rds) in the trombone section voicing and use the trumpets in upper structure triads, with the 4th trumpet doubling the lead and octave lower.

Here is a particularly effective passage using this texture from an arrangement Dave Berger wrote for the national Jazz ensemble. The sound of the piece is based on the kind of dominant chord whose upper structure consists of stacked diminished 7th chords. (See Chapter 3, example 10.) This passage uses these sounds in their most complete and complex versions, placing special demands on register and chord voicing in the sections. But once the sound of the chord and the voice distribution is established, the structure remains constant for 8 measures. In the 9th measure, the voicing changes, and everything is packed closely in a dark, lower-middle register, with the brass playing in hats producing a soft, dark, murky effect. (This passage begins with a long, accented, lower neighbor, chromatic-approach chord.) Only the trombone section retains the same intervallic relationship among its parts. The excerpt ends with the chords spread widely across the whole range of the band. The baritone plays the roots, supported by the 3rd trombone a 5th above (until it joins the baritone on the root on the last chord). Trombones 1 and 2 play the essential middle parts of the chord (the 7th and 3rd) in the most effective register. The lead trumpet plays interesting color tones, no longer doubled by the 4th trumpet and octave below, and the rest of the saxophones fill in the middle register with upper structure notes omitted from the brass voicing. All this complexity is contrasted at measure 17 with a simple dominant 7th chord voicing. It’s worth noting that the E@ and D triads in measure 17 that are in apparent conflict with the A7 chord are simply heard as upper neighbors, even though they last a whole measure.

Score References & Musical Examples Using JABB:

Click on Play Button below to Play from the Score

Here is the full score of a complete big band composition, part of which appeared in a condensed score in Chapter 4 (ex. 4-9). There is a description of the form of the piece in Chapter 4.

Score References & Musical Examples Using JABB:

Click on Play Button below to Play from the Score

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