Judging arrangements

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hyperbolica
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Judging arrangements

Post by hyperbolica »

In my tbone quartet I've got 3 other retired cantankerous former pros. I'm the guy who tends to bring in new arrangements. Some arrangements are real pro arrangements. Some are very good amateur arrangements. And some are just Musescore experiments or repaired amateur stuff.

When the charts arrive at the quartet rehearsal, I've usually been able to screen them with a digital listening through Musescore or YouTube, but not always. I'm fond of saying that "we have to kiss a lot of frogs" to get some princes of arrangements.

My dilemma is this: Sometimes my cantankerous friends are charitable, and sometimes not. Sometimes they read well, and sometimes not. Sometimes they get a good part - but once we had an arrangement of Beatles Blackbird with one part that had off beat E's for the whole chart.

Sometimes a chart like Blackbird will sound great to me, and I want to put it in the book and play it in public, but one guy declares it a disaster or sounds like "a master of arts composition project" or whatever. We have a huge set of Elkjer arrangements that we can't play for one reason or another.

How do you deal with arrangements that unfairly get a bad hearing?
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Doug Elliott
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Re: Judging arrangements

Post by Doug Elliott »

That's why I write my own charts, so I can make sure every part is playable and interesting... since a lot of arrangers don't seem to care about those things. If there's a single part that is hated, play it yourself. I fix a lot of bad charts by entering them in Sibelius and rearranging them. That way you can also use charts written for different instruments, or even a different size group. It does take time.
Ask some of those cantankerous individuals to contribute something they do like.
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JohnL
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Re: Judging arrangements

Post by JohnL »

In the specific case of the Blackbird arrangement, you might consider doing some cutting and pasting so the never-ending low E's get passed around rather than some poor sap being stuck with them for the entire chart.
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Doug Elliott
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Re: Judging arrangements

Post by Doug Elliott »

JohnL wrote: Fri Jul 05, 2024 6:49 pm In the specific case of the Blackbird arrangement, you might consider doing some cutting and pasting so the never-ending low E's get passed around rather than some poor sap being stuck with them for the entire chart.
Also, ask yourself whether they're really necessary. Once the pattern has been established, maybe you can get rid of them.
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hyperbolica
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Re: Judging arrangements

Post by hyperbolica »

I can do some arranging, and the old muppets that kibbitz from the balcony haven't treated me too badly, but I haven't been able to fix Blackbird acceptably yet. I've tried a couple of different things, but you guys gave me some more ideas.

I don't feel even remotely qualified to correct Elkjer's stuff. Sometimes I feel like just revisiting charts a year later can give it a different reception.

The old codgers occasionally just proclaim something a "bad arrangement" if they don't recognize the name of the arranger. They've even passed judgment on Ingo Luis stuff that seems top shelf to me. I think a bad reading or a slow tempo creates these impressions. Of the 100+ Elkjer quartets I have, we only have a handful in the book.

On the other hand, I've slipped tunes like Paint It Black and Ring Of Fire past them. I keep trying with Ozzy Osborne's Mamma I'm Coming Home and a very special chart code named Blare-O.
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Re: Judging arrangements

Post by TheGuardian050 »

Another idea is if you end up with three or four charts like Blackbird, you can treat them as a set and share around the boring part so it's equal.

All off-beat Es sounds extra-annoying though, like usually with a boring part you can relax a tiny bit and it's like a break. I'd be tempted to E-pull and play with the trigger for at least part of it rather than holding completely steady.
hyperbolica
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Re: Judging arrangements

Post by hyperbolica »

Doug Elliott wrote: Fri Jul 05, 2024 6:48 pm ... If there's a single part that is hated, play it yourself.


Oooooh, yeah. That's how I got this bass trombone in my hand. I've tried that, and you can only solve so many problems at a time.
I fix a lot of bad charts by entering them in Sibelius and rearranging them. That way you can also use charts written for different instruments, or even a different size group.


I've adapted choral stuff, piano, saxophone, etc. I put some effort into it. Finding tunes and existing arrangements that are adaptable takes some time. I wish i were a better arranger, so I have to find a good one and manage to not mess it up.

We have some Bob Morris stuff written for bones with rhythm section which benefits from 4th part rewritten as a bass line to at least keep the beat
Ask some of those cantankerous individuals to contribute something they do like.
In fairness, they actually do. We got Stardust, a nice Gershwin and a Cohan medley. Anything goes as long as its pushing a century old.
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Re: Judging arrangements

Post by AndrewMeronek »

hyperbolica wrote: Fri Jul 05, 2024 8:19 pm I don't feel even remotely qualified to correct Elkjer's stuff.
I've never seen a need; Elkjer's stuff seems to always be solid.

:idk:

But not all arrangements are right for every group. I think it's fine to weed out what doesn't fit for whatever reason.

And IMHO writing arrangements of pop tunes can be pretty tricky. There is no drumset in a trombone quartet (typically! :cool: ) so the kinds of rhythmic emphasis a drumset adds to a tune can be really hard to capture. Often it's not worth trying as long as there is enough else in the tune that it's interesting to cover.

If you have some specific arranging questions, I'd be happy to give input if you're willing to post screenshots and the like in this forum.
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hyperbolica
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Re: Judging arrangements

Post by hyperbolica »

AndrewMeronek wrote: Sat Jul 06, 2024 4:28 pm I've never seen a need; Elkjer's stuff seems to always be solid.


I didn't mean to say I found some technical fault But some of it gets a bit out there, and parts can be very difficult.

And IMHO writing arrangements of pop tunes can be pretty tricky. There is no drumset in a trombone quartet (typically! :cool: ) so the kinds of rhythmic emphasis a drumset adds to a tune can be really hard to capture. Often it's not worth trying as long as there is enough else in the tune that it's interesting to cover.


I agree this can be tricky. I've added rhythm to bass parts, or de-popped things to some extent. Some tunes just didn't make the transition very well.
If you have some specific arranging questions, I'd be happy to give input if you're willing to post screenshots and the like in this forum.
That's a very generous offer, but I don't think my deficits as an arranger are repairable. I'm curious about everything. I don't always understand what kind of thing dooms an arrangement.
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Re: Judging arrangements

Post by officermayo »

hyperbolica wrote: Fri Jul 05, 2024 8:19 pm
The old codgers occasionally just proclaim something a "bad arrangement" if they don't recognize the name of the arranger. They've even passed judgment on Ingo Luis stuff that seems top shelf to me. I think a bad reading or a slow tempo creates these impressions. Of the 100+ Elkjer quartets I have, we only have a handful in the book.
Quote my first Marine Band leader and say, "It sucks because YOU suck".
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Re: Judging arrangements

Post by KWL »

officermayo wrote: Sun Jul 07, 2024 5:26 am
hyperbolica wrote: Fri Jul 05, 2024 8:19 pm
The old codgers occasionally just proclaim something a "bad arrangement" if they don't recognize the name of the arranger. They've even passed judgment on Ingo Luis stuff that seems top shelf to me. I think a bad reading or a slow tempo creates these impressions. Of the 100+ Elkjer quartets I have, we only have a handful in the book.
Quote my first Marine Band leader and say, "It sucks because YOU suck".
Why do I picture Jack Nicholson when I read that?
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tbdana
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Re: Judging arrangements

Post by tbdana »

hyperbolica wrote: Fri Jul 05, 2024 8:19 pm The old codgers occasionally just proclaim something a "bad arrangement" if they don't recognize the name of the arranger. They've even passed judgment on Ingo Luis stuff that seems top shelf to me. I think a bad reading or a slow tempo creates these impressions. Of the 100+ Elkjer quartets I have, we only have a handful in the book.
Every time I read this passage I think you don't need different arrangements, you need different quartet members.
hyperbolica
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Re: Judging arrangements

Post by hyperbolica »

tbdana wrote: Sun Jul 07, 2024 1:22 pm Every time I read this passage I think you don't need different arrangements, you need different quartet members.
Yeah, well, there's that. But they are great guys and great players, they're just a little picky about the charts they want to play. I've tried to get younger guys to play, but you have to practice after work instead of during the day...

Here's Georgia On My Mind from a recent performance...
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tbdana
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Re: Judging arrangements

Post by tbdana »

hyperbolica wrote: Sun Jul 07, 2024 1:53 pm
tbdana wrote: Sun Jul 07, 2024 1:22 pm Every time I read this passage I think you don't need different arrangements, you need different quartet members.
Yeah, well, there's that. But they are great guys and great players, they're just a little picky about the charts they want to play. I've tried to get younger guys to play, but you have to practice after work instead of during the day...

Here's Georgia On My Mind from a recent performance...
You guys are fantastic! :good: Love it! Love the sounds, too. I could listen to you guys all day, which is not something I say about trombone quartets, usually. Yeah, okay, keep 'em. LOL! :D
hyperbolica
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Re: Judging arrangements

Post by hyperbolica »

tbdana wrote: Sun Jul 07, 2024 3:30 pm
You guys are fantastic! :good: Love it! Love the sounds, too. I could listen to you guys all day, which is not something I say about trombone quartets, usually. Yeah, okay, keep 'em. LOL! :D
Thanks, that's nice of you to say. We've been together for a while, and had to replace a couple members recently. The oldest member was out camping, so we had a sub. We enjoy playing together but don't get out much.
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Re: Judging arrangements

Post by hyperbolica »

AndrewMeronek wrote: Sat Jul 06, 2024 4:28 pm If you have some specific arranging questions, I'd be happy to give input if you're willing to post screenshots and the like in this forum.
This is an arrangement Bob Morris did, and he made his arrangements available online before he passed. This is an arrangement that has been pooh-poohed by my quartet. Yeah, it has some high range in it. Yeah, I've read better arrangements. There are some note and line doublings/unisons that I might not have chosen. But what's so wrong with this that it shouldn't go in our book, as it's the only version of Moonlight Serenade we have?
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Re: Judging arrangements

Post by AndrewMeronek »

OK, I actually agree with your quartet's conclusion.

- There are no breaks to help circulate the blood in the chops.
- Too much conflicting rhythms going on in the same pitch registers.

Because of how little rest there is, I think that probably makes it unperformable as part of a long set.
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hyperbolica
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Re: Judging arrangements

Post by hyperbolica »

AndrewMeronek wrote: Sat Jul 13, 2024 7:25 am OK, I actually agree with your quartet's conclusion.

- There are no breaks to help circulate the blood in the chops.
- Too much conflicting rhythms going on in the same pitch registers.

Because of how little rest there is, I think that probably makes it unperformable as part of a long set.
Ok, that's useful info. Bob Morris had a certain style. He wrote a lot of unisons which I don't like, and he tended to write quartets like a bone section - with no functioning bass part.

I hadn't thought about the rhythm /range issue. I might be able to do something with that. Thanks.
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Richard3rd
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Re: Judging arrangements

Post by Richard3rd »

hyperbolica wrote: Sun Jul 07, 2024 1:53 pm
tbdana wrote: Sun Jul 07, 2024 1:22 pm Every time I read this passage I think you don't need different arrangements, you need different quartet members.
Yeah, well, there's that. But they are great guys and great players, they're just a little picky about the charts they want to play. I've tried to get younger guys to play, but you have to practice after work instead of during the day...

Here's Georgia On My Mind from a recent performance...
Director of a big band commenting here. I'm going to tell you what I tell my trombone section. When you scoop into a note, make sure you arrive at the note in tune and not just short of it. That just makes it flat. And there were plenty of those. Also, overdoing that style of playing gets old and is tiring to the ear.

One more thing, be careful with tempo. This one was a little too slow. The energy lags and I was thinking of going out for a sandwich in between phrases.

Other than that, you guys have a great sound. And I agree with many here. Fixing a less than perfect arrangement sometimes just takes a little tweaking here and there and then you can end up with a very serviceable tune.
Richard

King 2280 Euphonium
King 1130 Marching Trombone (Flugabone)
AndrewMeronek
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Re: Judging arrangements

Post by AndrewMeronek »

hyperbolica wrote: Sat Jul 13, 2024 9:41 pm Ok, that's useful info. Bob Morris had a certain style. He wrote a lot of unisons which I don't like, and he tended to write quartets like a bone section - with no functioning bass part.

I hadn't thought about the rhythm /range issue. I might be able to do something with that. Thanks.
If you're looking at re-writing it, I have some other suggestions to play with:

- See if you can incorporate mutes. Simply having some instruments muted and others unmuted creates some sonic separation that can help with that overlapping rhythms/range thing.
- Don't be afraid of taking things out of the texture, to the point of having a single player sometimes. Good arranging is about setting up contrast that leads to dramatic impact, and simply going from less to more people playing is one of many highly effective tools to create contrast.
- Speaking of dramatic impact, a cleverly-implemented key change can not only add this but also might sometimes solve range issues when you want to bring about a different texture.
- Pass the melody around.
“All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.”

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hyperbolica
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Re: Judging arrangements

Post by hyperbolica »

AndrewMeronek wrote: Sun Jul 14, 2024 11:05 am Ok, that's useful info. Bob Morris had a certain style. He wrote a lot of unisons which I don't like, and he tended to
If you're looking at re-writing it, I have some other suggestions to play with:

- See if you can incorporate mutes. Simply having some instruments muted and others unmuted creates some sonic separation that can help with that overlapping rhythms/range thing.
- Don't be afraid of taking things out of the texture, to the point of having a single player sometimes. Good arranging is about setting up contrast that leads to dramatic impact, and simply going from less to more people playing is one of many highly effective tools to create contrast.
- Speaking of dramatic impact, a cleverly-implemented key change can not only add this but also might sometimes solve range issues when you want to bring about a different texture.
- Pass the melody around.
That's all reasonable and probably something i can do.
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