Jazz & Popular Arranging: Final Project

Jazz & Popular Arranging: Final Project

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For Weeks 6 and 7 of Jazz & Popular Arranging, we are working on our final arrangement that was selected from our preferred list in Week 3. My facilitator elected for me to arrange “How Long Has This Been Going On?” by George & Ira Gershwin from the musical, Rosalie. There were no lecture materials or discussion board requirements for either week, just a first draft at the end of Week 6 and a final product at the end of Week 7.

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Writing Four Part Harmony

Writing Four Part Harmony

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Week 5 is our last “new skill” week in the Jazz & Popular Arranging course. The lecture material focused on registration (in what register is each horn playing) and voicing (distance between voices and what line each voice is playing). Our discussion looked at how a vocal arrangement applied similar principles from the course. Our assignment used a variety of voicing techniques to write a four part harmony to “Blue Room.”

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Writing for Piano/Guitar, Drums & Two-Part Harmony

Writing for Piano/Guitar, Drums & Two-Part Harmony

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Back to our regularly scheduled programming, Week 4 of Jazz & Popular Arranging focused on two skills: 1) writing for piano/guitar and drums, and 2) two-part harmony. The lecture material described different levels of complexity for writing for the rhythm section and focused our harmonization to the use of thirds and sixths. Our discussion revolved around the Doobie Brothers’ “What a Fool Believes” and Al Jarreau’s “We’re in This Love Together.” Our assignment was to write an arrangement of “Have You Met Miss Jones’” for trumpet, tenor sax, piano/guitar, bass, and drums.

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Writing for the Rhythm Section: Bass

Writing for the Rhythm Section: Bass

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In Week 3 of Jazz & Popular Arranging, we added the Rhythm Section to our writing, specifically the bass. Much of the lecture material on bass line construction was similar to the content in Mike Steinel’s Developing the Successful Jazz Ensemble MECA at VanderCook. We continued on the path of unison/octave writing for horns while composing simple bass lines.

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Writing for Horns

Writing for Horns

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For Week 2 of Jazz & Popular Arranging, we began looking at how to write for horns. This week is focused on transposition, where Weeks 4 and 5 will look at two- and four-part writing, respectively. The lecture material dealt mostly with instrument transpositions, ranges, and idiomatic issues. The Discussion revolved around popular bands that use horns effectively in their writing. For the Assignment, we were asked to write an arrangement of Dancing on the Ceiling for alto sax, trumpet, and trombone.

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Rhythmic Concepts in Line Writing

Rhythmic Concepts in Line Writing

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For Week 1 of our Jazz and Popular Arranging course, we are looking at how to notate rhythms in a swing style. The lecture material briefly discussed how to use anticipations and delays to create a more “swinging feel” as opposed to the more “society feel” that is typically notated in fake books. Additional readings, discussed below, came out of Boras’ Jazz Composition and Arranging. Each week requires an initial discussion board post by Friday and a response to a classmate’s post by Sunday. Our assignment involves an arrangement of some standard from Sher’s The Standards Real Book. I’ll go into more detail of each below.

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Jazz and Popular Arranging

Jazz and Popular Arranging

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bThe next course I am taking in Boston University’s Online Doctoral of Musical Arts in Music Education program is MT781: Jazz and Popular Arranging for the Summer I term. The program asks us to take four electives, two of which must be in Music Theory or Musicology. The recommended sequence for our cohort had us taking electives in Spring II and Summer I and MT600: Analytical Techniques I for this term. I was more interested in taking this arranging course than the other options in Spring II—Advocacy & Policy or Community Music. The other options available for Summer I are Intro to Music Technology and American Music History.

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