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Topic: Composing for Brass especially trombone (Read 296 times) previous topic - next topic

Composing for Brass especially trombone
I'm branching out! I've got some jazzy compositions for brass solo instrument and piano accompaniment. I hear trombone in my head because of its jaunty quality. What do I need to know about this combo?
Is there a way to make the score look handwritten and articulated like in this document?:
http://www.timusic.net/wp-content/uploads/jazz+artikulation.pdf
Any tips for taking the piano part and breaking it into orchestration for other instruments so that it becomes a band arrangement?

I know there are some experts here and look forward to learning from you.

Re: Composing for Brass especially trombone
Reply #1
Hey SEBC, that looks like a good article.
The handwritten look is exactly why I created the SwingDings font suite that is distributed with NWC (SwingDings, NWC2SwingDings, SwingChord, SwingText and SwingTextEuro)
As for atriculation, the addition to NWC2.75 of the Marker object lets you place articulations exactly where you want them.

See file attached for a partial example of a Trumpet part I recently did
I plays 'Bones, crumpets, coronets, floosgals 'n youfonymums - gonna lern tubies next

Re: Composing for Brass especially trombone
Reply #2
Any tips for taking the piano part and breaking it into orchestration for other instruments so that it becomes a band arrangement?
A quick and dirty start is to use the "Parts" user tool...
Copy the right hand into the trumpet/alto staves and use parts to either keep that part of the chord you want, OR remove the parts you don't want - transpose 'em later.

Ditto for the left hand but use it for the bass, maybe bari and tenor saxes and 'bone parts.

Then mix 'n 'match!  E.G.  If the primary melody line is in, say the 1st alto, then have an interlude where, say, a trumpet or bone takes it before it goes back to the alto.

Make use of tone colours - reeds are different to brass, trumpets are brighter than bones.  the piano is your friend too, don't forget it.

For something a little different, maybe feature the bass (I prefer upright, but there are some really talented bass guitar players out there too).  Depending on the feel of the chart, the bari sax can be really awesome!

Melody is usually in the right hand - move it around, trumpet and alto usually get melodies, but that's not a hard and fast rule - put it where you want.  Ballads go really well on trombones, but tenor saxes do 'em really well too.

Make use of "stabs" in whatever voicings you want.

If you have the lead in, say the trumpet line, then chords in the saxes and/or the 'bones.  Lead in the saxes? chords in the bones and trumpets.

Bass bone and bari often mirror each other.  If the bass isn't simply walking then bari might mirror it, or not - dealers choice.

Bass bone also makes beautiful chords in concert with the other bones - some of the fattest, most gorgeous sounds in a big band come for the bones in harmony.

Think about chord voicings.  Do you want them close voiced or open, do you want to play with 9ths , 11ths and 13th's, what about whole tone chords?  Check out the chord centres and how they move, or not, through the chart.  Can you CREATE a change that will enhance the sound and feel?  Maybe some chord substitutions?  Sometimes subtle reharmonisations can work really well, sometimes they can sound like crap too.  Listen CRITICALLY, what may seem like a good idea might not work, no matter how badly you want it to - trust your ears!
I plays 'Bones, crumpets, coronets, floosgals 'n youfonymums - gonna lern tubies next

Re: Composing for Brass especially trombone
Reply #3
A piece of advice I was once given was to remember KISS.  In this case, keeping it simple was to work with no more than 4 or 5 part harmonies.  Then duplicate, or move, them around the orchestra.  Getting too fancy can be very detrimental to the end result.
I plays 'Bones, crumpets, coronets, floosgals 'n youfonymums - gonna lern tubies next

Re: Composing for Brass especially trombone
Reply #4
That's a lot of great info there! Thanks so much for sharing it.

I am a complete novice when it comes to brass instrumentation, conventions, idioms, etc. I've been locked in my art song tower for a while, lol. I write very serious works...but every now and then I just have to compose something that sounds fun and happy. Now I just have to learn to do it with integrity so that performers won't scoff, ha ha.

As far as the notation goes, I think I see that the actual quarter notes, etc. have a different hand-drawn look to them in that article. Is there a way to change that in NWC? I did discover your swing fonts. Is there a difference between them that I should know about or is it just a matter of taste?

Thanks again.

Re: Composing for Brass especially trombone
Reply #5
That's a lot of great info there! Thanks so much for sharing it.

I am a complete novice when it comes to brass instrumentation, conventions, idioms, etc. I've been locked in my art song tower for a while, lol. I write very serious works...but every now and then I just have to compose something that sounds fun and happy. Now I just have to learn to do it with integrity so that performers won't scoff, ha ha.
Listening to the works of others is always a great place to start.

Check out any of the great trombonists on youtube for ideas; Al Grey, Sammy Nestico, Urbie Green, Bill Watrous, Frank Rossolino, Tommy Dorsey, Glenn Miller, JJ Johnson, Carl Fontana, James Pankow...  there's just so many.  Nestico arranged for Count Basie.

Quote
As far as the notation goes, I think I see that the actual quarter notes, etc. have a different hand-drawn look to them in that article. Is there a way to change that in NWC? I did discover your swing fonts. Is there a difference between them that I should know about or is it just a matter of taste?
The chart sample I posted uses the SwingDings suite.  Really, it's just a matter of taste.  The NWC2SwingDings.ttf is an alternative to the standard NWC2STDA.ttf engraving font.
I plays 'Bones, crumpets, coronets, floosgals 'n youfonymums - gonna lern tubies next

Re: Composing for Brass especially trombone
Reply #6
<snip>
I did discover your swing fonts. Is there a difference between them that I should know about or is it just a matter of taste?
Everything is about taste ;)
If you want to see differences between my font suites check out this web site:
http://zoundz.pardyline.com.au
The "Sample Charts" are all the same chart, but rendered with the different font suites I created.  They were done a long time ago, but have no fancy tricks - they're exactly how they came out of NWC.
MusikDingsSerif is pretty close to what NWC would do if rendered with the native fonts.
I plays 'Bones, crumpets, coronets, floosgals 'n youfonymums - gonna lern tubies next