Arranging For Big Band

Jazz Arranging 2: Writing for Big Band 

Course Outline and Class Schedule

Semester: Spring 2018
Course #: MUSI 3632 (two credits)
Instructor: Earl MacDonald, Professor of Music, Director of Jazz Studies 

In this second semester of jazz arranging, we will concentrate on arranging and orchestrating music for 17-piece Jazz Orchestra (big band). The instrumentation will be:  2 alto saxophones, 2 tenor saxophones, bari sax, 4 trumpets, 3 tenor trombones, 1 bass trombone, guitar, piano, string bass and drums. (No woodwind doubles.)

There will be one major arranging project, plus preparatory exercises and listening assignments. The Jazz Lab Band will read, rehearse and perform your completed piece. The instructor must approve your selection, chosen from the standard jazz repertoire. No ballads. No original compositions.

The arrangement’s form will include, but is not limited to: introduction, “in head”, [transition to…], solo with backgrounds, soli (1/2 chorus), shout (1/2 chorus), recap/“out head,” ending.

Suggested Textbooks: 

  • “Jazz Arranging and Composing, A Linear Approach” [last semester’s required text]
    By: Bill Dobbins.  Advance Music.  ISBN 3-89221-006-3
  • “Inside The Score” (a detailed analysis of 8 classic jazz ensemble charts)
    By: Rayburn Wright.  Kendor Music.  [in the library]

Additional titles and resources: http://www.earlmacdonald.com/jazz-arranging-text-books/

Grading: 

All weekly assignments will be graded, but the quality of the completed final project will bear the most weight in determining the final grade.

  • Arranging Exercises and Benchmark Assignments: 20%
  • Listening Assignments (5): 20%
  • Completed Major Project: 60%

All assignments are due at the beginning of class on their assigned date.  Late assignments will be penalized heavily.
*The course content, schedule and grading scheme are subject to change at the instructor’s discretion.


Time line: 

  • Jazz Ensemble concert date: April 5 (Thursday)
  • Weeks from semester onset until then: 11
  • Rehearsals required: 3 weeks prior to concert
  • 1st reading/rehearsal: March 19, 2018 (after spring break)
  • Weeks to completion: 8 (plus spring break)

The following schedule is a rough outline that will be “tweaked” to suit the needs of the individual student(s), as determined by the instructor:

Week 1: (Jan. 16 – 19, 2018)

Lecture Topics:

  • orientation: “big picture” semester overview, text books & resources
  • project management
  • project and band assessment
  • formal delineations, planning and road maps 

Assignments:


Week 2: (Jan. 22 – 26, 2018)

Benchmark Goals:

Lecture Topics:

  • formal planning
  • density charts
  • orchestrational choices

Week 3: (Jan. 29 – Feb. 2, 2018)

Benchmark Goals:

  • road map, orchestration and density plans for your chart completed

Also Due:

  • Listening report #1

Lecture Topics:

  • 4-part block writing
  • optimal lead line ranges
  • trombone section voicings: rootless and rooted, open and closed, melodic accompaniment

Week 4: (Feb. 5 – 9, 2018)

Benchmark Goals:

  • sketch score completed: lead lines and basic chord changes for entire chart (including melody statement(s), soli(s), background figures, intro and ending).

Also Due:

  • T.B.A.

Lecture Topics:

  • 4-part block writing, continued
  • brass section: combining trumpet and trombones.
    • Basie 4-part, basic ensemble (utilizing triadic extensions)
  • complete ensemble voicings (brass + saxes)

Week 5: (Feb. 12 – 16)

Benchmark Goals:

  • melody statements (in and out heads) scored: voiced/harmonized, orchestrated

Also Due:

  • Listening report #2
  • T.B.A.

Lecture Topics:

  • 4-part block writing, continued
  • harmonization techniques for non-chord tones

Week 6: (Feb. 19 – 23)

Benchmark Goals:

  • harmonized soli voiced
  • intro & ending scored

Lecture Topics:

  • 4-part block writing, continued
  • rhythm section integration
  • chorale writing

Also Due:

  • T.B.A.

 


Week 7: (Feb 26 – March 2)

Benchmark Goals:

  • scored backgrounds
  • transitional material completed

Also Due:

  • Listening report #3
  • T.B.A.

Week 8: (March 5 – 9)

Benchmark Goals:

  • articulations and dynamics added to COMPLETED ARRANGEMENT.
  • Proofread and start formatting parts

Also Due:

  • T.B.A.

Spring Break: March 12 – 16


March 19 – 23:

Reading Session/Rehearsal 1: Monday, March 19, 2018

  • evaluative, critical listening to recordings of student arrangements

 


March 26 – 30:

Rehearsal 2: Monday, March 26, 2018

  • evaluative, critical listening to recordings of student arrangements 

Due Assignments:

  • Listening report #4
  • T.B.A.

 


April 2 – 6:

Rehearsal 3: April 2, 2018

  • evaluative, critical listening to recordings of student arrangements 

Also Due:

  • T.B.A.

Concert = Thursday, April 5


Remainder:

Lecture Topics:

  • incorporating woodwinds
  • advanced reharmonization
  • motivic and rhythmic development
  • …and more

Due Assignments:

  • Listening report #5
  • T.B.A.

 


Students with Disabilities

Please contact me during office hours to discuss academic accommodations that may be needed during the semester due to a documented disability.

The Center for Students with Disabilities (CSD) engages in an interactive process with each student and reviews requests for accommodations on an individualized, case-by-case basis. Depending on the nature and functional limitations of a student’s documented disability, he/she may be eligible for academic accommodations. CSD collaborates with students and their faculty to coordinate approved accommodations and services for qualified students with disabilities. If you have a documented disability for which you wish to request academic accommodations and have not contacted the CSD, please do so as soon as possible.  The CSD is located in Wilbur Cross, Room 204 and can be reached at (860) 486-2020 or at csd@uconn.edu.  Detailed information regarding the process to request accommodations is available on the CSD website at www.csd.uconn.edu.
 For more information, contact: Kim McKeown at kimberly.mckeown@uconn.edu

 

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