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Composing for Concert Band

Just listened to the #concert we did with the Newmarket Citizens' Band at Old Town Hall in Newmarket. I wrote two orchestrations, or you might call them #arrangements (as there were some original lines), for concert band to accompany two Riddle arrangements for jazz band. They were to the tunes "Love is Here to Stay" and "Ain't that A Kick in the Head." Some very nice moments, especially with some of the flute lines soaring above the big band, and when the concert bass drum and timpani were landed just right. What I did learn is that it is not wise to double-up or repeat thick voicings in the concert #band that are already being played in the #jazz band. It sounds fine on the computer simulation, but it requires near perfect tuning to pull it off in performance. It is better to have the concert band tacet at those moments or to have them play a separate line, maybe something rhythmic and in unison, to set it apart. I also learned that the swing feel will be different in a concert band than in a jazz band. While you might think "dahhh," that should be obvious, I assumed that the flavour and feel of the jazz band, especially the rhythm section, would help set the rhythmic style of the combined piece. #Swing is something that takes years and years to learn, and I should have known that there would be different interpretations of the swung eighth note. So what do you do? Either the concert band is playing "pads," like a string section would, or if they have figures that are separate and distinct from the jazz band. I really hope I am afforded another chance to write for both ensembles. There is very little literature out there for the two combined groups and I can see why - it is a #challenge. A challenge that I look forward to tackling again.

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Jun 02, 2018

An addendum: I just edited the two tracks that we did with the NCB and they sound much better. I need to be careful when making judgements on performances with raw audio; it can be misleading. Once you take out the background noise, the sound becomes much clearer, less muddy. I think you also have to realize that when you are recording a concert in stereo with two microphones, you are getting one "take" on the concert, i.e., you are getting the sound from wherever the microphones were set-up and that can be affected by a number of things. Even the best recording, and these were very good recordings, needs a little help to make them truly ready for the…

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