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Upfront: Writing & Arranging:

Mike Lawson • October 2006 • October 21, 2006

BY VINCENT COROZINE (ASCAP)

A good-sounding musical arrangement possesses many characteristics. However, the three most important characteristics include transparency of texture, variety of tone color, and moving contrapuntal lines that build to a satisfying climax. All of the musical arrangements that positively influenced me had these characteristics.

Before 1600, any medium of performance for a given composition was considered satisfactory, and there was little uniformity of instrumentation in ensemble music. Practically any combination of instruments seems to have been acceptable during this period, since the emphasis was on the musical line and not on tone color or blend. Sharp contrastsof tone color are not very apparent in scores of this period. Composers did not suggest the choice of parts to be played by certain instruments, but the decision was left to the performers.

This example by Giovanni Gabrieli (1557-1612) is arranged for two trumpets and two trombones and illustratesa powerful technique for effectively mixing textures within a composition. We notice immediately that the musical fabric changes constantly, alternating between two, three, and four voice parts. Gabrieli employs rests toventilate the texture and lighten the sound, to highlight phrase endings, and to clear the way for the next entrance. Noteworthy is the fact that Gabrieli introduces the theme five times, delaying the third answer of the theme until m. 3 to avoid the monotony of phrasing that is too regular and predictable. Most of Bach’s contrapuntal writing reflects this compositional principle.

An instrument or section that has been silent for a periodof time attracts new interest when it reenters.

Note that Gabrieli does not allow everyone to play throughout the piece, as different voices drop out for short periods to lighten the musical fabric. Allowing everyone to sing or play throughout can be texturally monotonous, lacking in color, and predictable. One further observation reveals that of the fourteen measures that comprise this example, only four measures contain writing for two-parts, and five measures to three-part writing. Especially notable is that in only five of the fourteen measures do all of the performers play together. Notice that notes that move rhythmically together form intervals of consonant thirds, sixths, or tenths. This is an excellent example of the means by which a composer or arranger can achieve variety of sound within a short section of music.

In tonal music, notes that move rhythmically together sound best when written in intervals of thirds or sixths.

For maximum clarity an orchestral texture should contain one or , at the most, two, melodic components. For example, when musically untrained persons listen to a four-part fugue, they hear the merged impression of a style of music and are not able to focus on each individual musical line.

Further analysis of the Gabrieli work reveals that the melodic line contains many octave skips in an upward direction, thereby imparting character and energy to the musical line.

Observe the use of octaves in the next to the last measure, as the composer decided to “thin” the musical texture. This lean musical texture gives greater contrast to the full-sounding ending that follows.

It is essential that each musical line be logically constructed and interesting to play or sing. It should make “good” musical sense. See how Gabrieli approaches the chromatic tones in mm. 6, 8, 12, and 13 by step and resolves them smoothly to the next note. This is good voice leading. It will greatly help the arranger if he or she understands that chromatic tones in tonal music should resolve smoothly.

The use of octaves or unison, leading to a full-sounding chord, makes the chord sound fuller by comparison.

Notice that in the final cadence the composer increases tension by combining an E flat with a D and a C with a D, one octave apart. The addition of tension at cadences is a useful compositional device, for when the dissonance finally does resolve to a more consonant sound structure, the effect is quite satisfying.1

(1. ARRANGING MUSIC FOR THE REAL WORLD PG. 35-38. Mel Bay Publications 2002) Example 1. Giovanni Gabrieli, Canzone, La Spiritata, mm. 1-14

(This arrangement can be found in my music arranging book, ARRANGING MUSIC FOR THE REAL WORLD by Mel Bay Publications and on the CD).

Brass instruments, unlike woodwinds, have a similarity of tone, resulting in a smooth, sonorous blend. A trio or quartet of trombones can create warmth, especially when written in close position.

We often call upon the Brass instruments to create an emotional impact through a roaring crescendo. No other family of instruments, except the percussion section, can match the brass family in this musical effect. They can express overwhelming power and majesty or produce a veiled subtlety of sound.

The sound of divisi brass played for long periods can be a tiring process for the listener. The arranger should combine judicious portions of unison, duets, trios,and quartets with full brass tutti passages for needed variety.

There are many ways to achieve variety in arranging for the brass section. Here are some examples of scoring for brass that I have used effectively in the studios with professional musicians.

Example 2 illustrates a “cascading” or “peeling-off ‘ effect that builds to a crescendo resulting in a four-note cluster in the trumpets. The trombones are voiced in close position, over a Gb pedal-point, and provide a solid background underneath the active lines played by the trumpets. The trumpet players must have particularly good musical ears to be able to play clusters in tune.

Example 2. Cascading Trumpets

Another “peeling-off ” effect, voiced for six brass, producesa cumulative crescendo, and can be seen in Example 3. Notice how the lean texture at the beginning intensifies as more voices are added to create a natural crescendo.

Observe that the second and third trumpets play in unison. I prefer to voice trumpets in unison when their tessitura lies within the staff. I could have given the first trombone part to the second and third trumpets, but I like the sound of the trombone in that particular range.

Either choice would have worked satisfactorily. Notice that each instrument enters on a different beat of measure one, thus staggering the entrances. The resulting build up of the phrase is a bit like the “terraced dynamics” used by the Baroque composers. (Instead of forcing more air through the instrument, to create a crescendo, they simply added more instruments).

Observe that the phrase builds both in intensity and in volume and ends on a Bb7 sus chord voiced in five parts.

Example 3. Cumulative Crescendo Bb/D D/F# Gm7 Cm9 Cm7/F Bbsus4

Example 4 illustrates how trumpets may be clustered above a minor seventh chord. The choices in this example were the notes Bb, A, and G. (Minor scale tones 3, 2, 1) One can also use the notes A, G, and F# (Minor scale tones 9, 8,major 7) for the minor cluster as well.

Example 4. Trumpet Clusters

To summarize: Achieving variety in scoring for brass instruments require the following considerations:

  • Include periods of rest for the brass player, and for the sake of the listener.
  • Use staggered entrances for tonal variety and lightness of texture.
  • Employ lots of unison and octaves leading to chordal structures.
  • Use a judicious use of dissonance, such as tonal clusters, and suspended chords.
  • Include expressive dynamics such as crescendos and diminuendos.
  • Voice the brass in intervals of fourths from the top down to add a contemporary edge to the sound.Achieving variety is a necessary ingredient of a skillful music arranger. The more experienced one becomes as an arranger, the less one is concerned with fullsounding tutti. The aim of the music arranger should be to create musical lines that move with contrapuntal finesse and clarity of design.

    Vince Corozine is the author of the highly successful music book, Arranging Music for the Real World with CD by Mel Bay Publications,Inc. Readers may contact Vince with questions about arranging music at: Norvin1@hotmail.com. His Web page is www.vincecorozine.com.

  • : Writing & Arranging BY VINCENT COROZINE (ASCAP)

    A good-sounding musical arrangement possesses many characteristics. However, the three most important characteristics include transparency of texture, variety of tone color, and moving contrapuntal lines that build to a satisfying climax. All of the musical arrangements that positively influenced me had these characteristics.

    Before 1600, any medium of performance for a given composition was considered satisfactory, and there was little uniformity of instrumentation in ensemble music. Practically any combination of instruments seems to have been acceptable during this period, since the emphasis was on the musical line and not on tone color or blend. Sharp contrastsof tone color are not very apparent in scores of this period. Composers did not suggest the choice of parts to be played by certain instruments, but the decision was left to the performers.

    This example by Giovanni Gabrieli (1557-1612) is arranged for two trumpets and two trombones and illustratesa powerful technique for effectively mixing textures within a composition. We notice immediately that the musical fabric changes constantly, alternating between two, three, and four voice parts. Gabrieli employs rests toventilate the texture and lighten the sound, to highlight phrase endings, and to clear the way for the next entrance. Noteworthy is the fact that Gabrieli introduces the theme five times, delaying the third answer of the theme until m. 3 to avoid the monotony of phrasing that is too regular and predictable. Most of Bach’s contrapuntal writing reflects this compositional principle.

    An instrument or section that has been silent for a periodof time attracts new interest when it reenters.

    Note that Gabrieli does not allow everyone to play throughout the piece, as different voices drop out for short periods to lighten the musical fabric. Allowing everyone to sing or play throughout can be texturally monotonous, lacking in color, and predictable. One further observation reveals that of the fourteen measures that comprise this example, only four measures contain writing for two-parts, and five measures to three-part writing. Especially notable is that in only five of the fourteen measures do all of the performers play together. Notice that notes that move rhythmically together form intervals of consonant thirds, sixths, or tenths. This is an excellent example of the means by which a composer or arranger can achieve variety of sound within a short section of music.

    In tonal music, notes that move rhythmically together sound best when written in intervals of thirds or sixths.

    For maximum clarity an orchestral texture should contain one or , at the most, two, melodic components. For example, when musically untrained persons listen to a four-part fugue, they hear the merged impression of a style of music and are not able to focus on each individual musical line.

    Further analysis of the Gabrieli work reveals that the melodic line contains many octave skips in an upward direction, thereby imparting character and energy to the musical line.

    Observe the use of octaves in the next to the last measure, as the composer decided to “thin” the musical texture. This lean musical texture gives greater contrast to the full-sounding ending that follows.

    It is essential that each musical line be logically constructed and interesting to play or sing. It should make “good” musical sense. See how Gabrieli approaches the chromatic tones in mm. 6, 8, 12, and 13 by step and resolves them smoothly to the next note. This is good voice leading. It will greatly help the arranger if he or she understands that chromatic tones in tonal music should resolve smoothly.

    The use of octaves or unison, leading to a full-sounding chord, makes the chord sound fuller by comparison.

    Notice that in the final cadence the composer increases tension by combining an E flat with a D and a C with a D, one octave apart. The addition of tension at cadences is a useful compositional device, for when the dissonance finally does resolve to a more consonant sound structure, the effect is quite satisfying.1

    (1. ARRANGING MUSIC FOR THE REAL WORLD PG. 35-38. Mel Bay Publications 2002) Example 1. Giovanni Gabrieli, Canzone, La Spiritata, mm. 1-14

    (This arrangement can be found in my music arranging book, ARRANGING MUSIC FOR THE REAL WORLD by Mel Bay Publications and on the CD).

    Brass instruments, unlike woodwinds, have a similarity of tone, resulting in a smooth, sonorous blend. A trio or quartet of trombones can create warmth, especially when written in close position.

    We often call upon the Brass instruments to create an emotional impact through a roaring crescendo. No other family of instruments, except the percussion section, can match the brass family in this musical effect. They can express overwhelming power and majesty or produce a veiled subtlety of sound.

    The sound of divisi brass played for long periods can be a tiring process for the listener. The arranger should combine judicious portions of unison, duets, trios,and quartets with full brass tutti passages for needed variety.

    There are many ways to achieve variety in arranging for the brass section. Here are some examples of scoring for brass that I have used effectively in the studios with professional musicians.

    Example 2 illustrates a “cascading” or “peeling-off ‘ effect that builds to a crescendo resulting in a four-note cluster in the trumpets. The trombones are voiced in close position, over a Gb pedal-point, and provide a solid background underneath the active lines played by the trumpets. The trumpet players must have particularly good musical ears to be able to play clusters in tune.

    Example 2. Cascading Trumpets

    Another “peeling-off ” effect, voiced for six brass, producesa cumulative crescendo, and can be seen in Example 3. Notice how the lean texture at the beginning intensifies as more voices are added to create a natural crescendo.

    Observe that the second and third trumpets play in unison. I prefer to voice trumpets in unison when their tessitura lies within the staff. I could have given the first trombone part to the second and third trumpets, but I like the sound of the trombone in that particular range.

    Either choice would have worked satisfactorily. Notice that each instrument enters on a different beat of measure one, thus staggering the entrances. The resulting build up of the phrase is a bit like the “terraced dynamics” used by the Baroque composers. (Instead of forcing more air through the instrument, to create a crescendo, they simply added more instruments).

    Observe that the phrase builds both in intensity and in volume and ends on a Bb7 sus chord voiced in five parts.

    Example 3. Cumulative Crescendo Bb/D D/F# Gm7 Cm9 Cm7/F Bbsus4

    Example 4 illustrates how trumpets may be clustered above a minor seventh chord. The choices in this example were the notes Bb, A, and G. (Minor scale tones 3, 2, 1) One can also use the notes A, G, and F# (Minor scale tones 9, 8,major 7) for the minor cluster as well.

    Example 4. Trumpet Clusters

    To summarize: Achieving variety in scoring for brass instruments require the following considerations:

  • Include periods of rest for the brass player, and for the sake of the listener.
  • Use staggered entrances for tonal variety and lightness of texture.
  • Employ lots of unison and octaves leading to chordal structures.
  • Use a judicious use of dissonance, such as tonal clusters, and suspended chords.
  • Include expressive dynamics such as crescendos and diminuendos.
  • Voice the brass in intervals of fourths from the top down to add a contemporary edge to the sound.Achieving variety is a necessary ingredient of a skillful music arranger. The more experienced one becomes as an arranger, the less one is concerned with fullsounding tutti. The aim of the music arranger should be to create musical lines that move with contrapuntal finesse and clarity of design.

    Vince Corozine is the author of the highly successful music book, Arranging Music for the Real World with CD by Mel Bay Publications,Inc. Readers may contact Vince with questions about arranging music at: Norvin1@hotmail.com. His Web page is www.vincecorozine.com.

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