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Arranging for a group

Discussion in 'Music [DB]' started by Aaron Saunders, Mar 18, 2006.

  1. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    I've really, really wanted to get into arranging for a while for a lot of reasons. One, I just think it'd be really, really fulfilling, and two, I've noticed that being a good arranger is a good way to make some money as a professional musician later in life. Beyond that, I've had a really big inspiration in the subject as one of the teachers at my high school, Greg Runions, is an incredible arranger and does all of the arrangements for his own big band as well as our school's jazz band.

    However, I know that one doesn't just start arranging things out of the blue. I mean, I suppose you could just listen to and transcribe arrangements in their entirety, but that's admittedly far beyond the scope of my transcription skills at the moment.

    Are there any really good books on the subject? I noticed in my copy of the Omnibook that there's something published on arranging that seems like it was fairly popular, but I don't know if something has come out in the last couple decades or so that outshines it or is more thorough.

    Also, as for tunes...I was thinking of starting with something really easy and then move onto gradually more difficult songs -- Autumn Leaves, Body and Soul, Fly Me To The Moon, Satin Doll, etc., then maybe onto Goodbye Pork Pie Hat or some Monk. Any advice?

    EDIT: Because of my experience in the school's jazz band (approximately 14 people) and studies of classical theory, I'm pretty familiar with the issues of transcription and the ranges of instruments involved in your average large group. Also, I'm not entirely sure, but I think if I came up with an arrangement GOOD enough, I might be able to convince Mr. Runions to have the school's jazz band play it at the Spring Concert. That's actually something I've wanted to have happen for a very long time now.
  2. Chrix


    Apr 9, 2004
    There are a few books that I use:

    Inside The Score'' by Rayburn Wright
    -This book analyses some charts by Sammy Nestico, Thad Jones and Bob Brookmeyer. Good for some ideas. Beware: The recording that supplements the book is pretty terrible. If you get this book, I highly recommend getting the original recordings.

    ;Jazz Arranging' by Norman David
    -Good because it has a wide range. Everything from very basic to no so very basic.

    'Jazz Arranging Techniques' by Gary Lindsay
    -More of the same. Great and in depth and good exercises.

    Also some books like Don Sebesky's 'The Contemporary Arranger' is one of my favourites.

    And don't forget your legit arranging and orchestrating.

    Also, listen. It's easy to get used to hearing head charts. Listen to big-band and larger-ensemble arrangements.

    The hardest part of arranging, particularly for big band, in my opinion is getting a grasp of voicings and understanding how and what combinations and such sound best. The best way to learn that is to just try it. A lot.

    Have fun. When you can get some cool things happening, it's a really fulfilling endeavor. Best of luck.

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