Quartet Arrangement Assignment

Assignment: Create a simple* jazz quartet arrangement of a Great American Songbook piece commonly performed by jazz musicians and therefore considered a “standard.” Students are advised against using jazz tunes (pieces written by jazz musicians as vehicles for improvisation), as these pieces often present different challenges for the arranger through their use of complex progressions beyond the scope of conventional harmony. Similarly, original compositions will be discouraged.

*By simple, the instructor means: write as if you were hired to create a chart for a recording session of the Sonny Stitt Quartet, in the late 1950s.  This is not a complex, contemporary composition assignment, where you are trying to innovate/discover your own voice.

Submit: a concert score and transposed parts.

Due: Monday, Oct. 23rd @ 9:05 a.m. *NOTE: sketches and draft work must be in place for discussions beginning on Oct. 11th.

Value: 20% of final grade for the Jazz Arranging 1 class.

Instrumentation: One Horn + Rhythm Section

Write for one “horn” (or vocalist) and rhythm section. Choose from alto sax, tenor sax, bari sax, trumpet, trombone or vocalist. The rhythm section will include string bass, drum set and either piano or guitar. Furthermore, if writing for your own instrument, plan to have the part read by someone other than yourself.

Your quartet arrangement must include:

  • an introduction
  • an ending (“Fade out” endings are not permitted.)
  • thoughtful writing for the rhythm section. (This might involve “hits,” rhythmic punctuations, “stop-time” and/or a written bass line.)
  • a rhythmic melody interpretation (not all quarter notes, as you might see in a fake book.)
  • “changes” (chord progression) for improvisation, not written above the melody statement. [A separate section.]
  • A logical “road map,” requiring no verbal explanation.
  • A soli (minimum duration of 8 measures.)

Refer to the idea generation handouts to spark your creativity.

Guidelines for score and parts:

  1. As stated in the syllabus, use computer notation software for all but one of your assignments. Should you choose to write by hand, remember that neatness and clarity are absolutely essential.
  2. If using computer notation software, and specifically MuseScore, DO NOT use the octave treble clef under any circumstances. (Writing for trombone is a workaround if you are using MuseScore and it generates the octave treble clef for the tenor sax part.)
  3. Rehearsal letters are required. (Ideally, try to align these on the left margin.)
  4. Measure numbering is encouraged.
  5. Include: title, instrument name, composer and arranger credits.
  6. Use clef, key and time signatures, and other standard notation practices.
  7. Number pages. Include title and part on subsequent pages.
  8. Don’t forget details such as dynamics and articulation markings.
  9. Pencil-written parts are unacceptable. If you write in pencil, photocopy your work.
  10. Format rhythm section parts using 4 measures per line when possible, to easily convey phrases.
  11. Tape together all parts.

In addition, spend some time looking at ensemble parts and scores to develop your personal notation style, which also adheres to acceptable conventions.

Possible Song Selections:

All the Things You Are, Alone Together, Autumn Leaves, But Not For Me, Bye Bye Blackbird, Days of Wine and Roses, Have You Met Miss Jones, I Love You, I Remember You, I Should Care, I’ll Close My Eyes, I’ll Remember April, I’ve Never Been In Love Before, It Could Happen To You, Just Friends, Long Ago and Far Away, Love For Sale, My Romance, My Shining Hour, Old Devil Moon, On Green Dolphin Street, Secret Love, Someday My Prince Will Come, Star Eyes, Stella By Starlight, Summertime, (On the) Sunny Side of the Street, There Will Never Be Another You, What Is This Thing Called Love

Click on the red “Jazz Standards” button below to download the 10 standards required for the UConn Jazz jury. With the possible exception of “Maiden Voyage” all of these would be an acceptable choice for your arrangement. The zip file includes transposed pages for concert, Bb, Eb and bass clef instruments.

[easy_media_download url=”https://www.earlmacdonald.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Jazz-Standards-PDFs.zip” text=”Jazz Standards” color=”red_darker”]

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