Big band & swing - study suggestions

Jimmy Hellfire

Senior Member
I played Super Mario Odyssey on the Switch and they have this incredibly fun level with an awesome big band arrangement.


I figured I should start learning to write stuff like this, as it's pretty much uncharted territory for me.

Any suggestions what to listen to and study for this kind of upbeat, grand sounding style?
 

TGV

Senior Member
The other day I encountered this. It's not deep or anything, but it gives a glimpse of how that sound is built up. There's a PDF to go along for $15.
 

Saxer

Senior Member
https://audioz.download/tutorials/methods/113138-download_bill-dobbins-jazz-arranging-and-composing-a-linear-approach.html
(not for BigBand but for jazz horn arrangements from 2 to 5 voices)

Good helper when stuck with non-scale-note harmonisation:

Some things I learned over the years:

- Don't be afraid of empty pages in the score. Let the rhythm section play.
- Unison is a strong sound. No need to harmonize everything.
- The rhythm structure is the base of good jazz melodies.
- Swing is the hardest thing to make with a computer.
- Don't even try to play swinging melodies with orchestral libraries. What works: WIVI, Samplemodeling, Audiomodeling and some special jazz libraries.
- In melodic swing lines the 8th-offbeats are accented and tied to the next downbeat.
- If you want to write jazz you have to play jazz.
 
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OP
Jimmy Hellfire

Jimmy Hellfire

Senior Member
Some things I learned over the years:

- Don't be afraid of empty pages in the score. Let the rhythm section play.
- Unison is a strong sound. No need to harmonize everything.
- The rhythm structure is the base of good jazz melodies.
So true, started to realize this pretty quickly!
 

FabMrT

New Member
And quick shortcut to harmonize swing melodies in the old way; Barry Harris method (well it's not his method) & his voicings and using dim/major bebop scales. It gives that instant "old" sound. If you want to write something more contemporary sounding, then this method don't work that well.

Also few years ago I came across this Phd thesis about how Duke Ellington wrote his arrangments. Can't remember it's name and where I found it, but it has useful information on how to write that old style Swing/Jazz.

And for listening enjoyment, I would suggest to check out arrangments by Bill Holman.
 

ChrisSiuMusic

Senior Member
Yeah, I’ve been obsessed with Basie’s Straight Ahead and Hay Burner, written and arranged by Sammy Nestico.

An interest all sparked by the exact same song (JUSS), as well as some classic Michael Bublé records.

Using OT’s Glory’s Days is a learning curve of sorts, especially with the keyswitching, but it’s hella fun.
 

YaniDee

Active Member
it was called "Orchestration techniques of Duke Ellington" and by Michael S. Brockman
Here you go..Click the red link on the page, and it will open as a Pdf which you can download..The link looks daunting, but is perfectly safe..it comes from a (very) avant garde music composition forum..

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwiy5JmqtO_iAhWsnOAKHSzUAq4QFjABegQIBRAB&url=http://soundmorphology.blogspot.com/2016/01/the-orchestration-techniques-of-duke.html&usg=AOvVaw3tn4XeFq41upXdNPahPD5I
 
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I played Super Mario Odyssey on the Switch and they have this incredibly fun level with an awesome big band arrangement.


I figured I should start learning to write stuff like this, as it's pretty much uncharted territory for me.

Any suggestions what to listen to and study for this kind of upbeat, grand sounding style?
Hi Jimmy,

I spent a 30 yr career writing exactly this kind of thing. Retired now and not looking to teach but got lots of books and other resources that might be helpful. Just moved so all my stuff is in boxes. Once unpacked, I'll try to come up with a list of suggestions. Hope they help.

Be Well,

Jimmy