July 31, 2017

Another curious Richard Strauss quote "If you can just barely hear the (French) horns on stage, the balance is perfect." Strauss clearly loved the horn - he wrote two concertos and his orchestral music is filled with famously difficult and copious horn writing. If he j...

July 30, 2017

Richard Strauss famously quipped "Don't look at the trombones; it only encourages them." It is an ironic observation coming from a composer/conductor who wrote really well for the trombones.

Trombones are the soul of the brass ensemble - capable of tremendous power, dol...

July 29, 2017

The notes are all entered into your score template - now what?

Of course, the possibilities are nearly endless and there is no one right way to go about any of this.

After listening to a recording of the piece several times, scrolling along in my score watching the notes...

July 28, 2017

As I wrote in Arrangement, Orchestration or Transcription, when scoring for brass I prefer to work from keyboard music. Even when doing a transcription, I'll look for the composer's piano version if available from which to work for a couple of reasons. First, it's easi...

July 27, 2017

Musicians spend years in solitude learning to perfect their craft, and are rightfully protective of what comes out of the horn.

Musicians are also at the mercy of the composer, arranger, orchestrator, and copyist. If a chart is faulty, it can expose a musician to the st...

July 26, 2017

Never being one to shy away from difficult projects, in 1978 I set out to make a version of Toccata and Fugue for my brass playing colleagues in the Wheat Ridge High School band. I worked feverishly on it for weeks and excitedly put it in front of my friends one mornin...

July 22, 2017

The liner notes for the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble recording of Pictures at an Exhibition contain a brief account of  Elgar Howarth's arranging process. He wrote something about a particular instrument (maybe a D flugelhorn in the Old Castle) being a linchpin. I'd be...

July 20, 2017

I had the great fortune to play bass trombone in Dave Caffey's excellent jazz band at the University of Denver. We played a lot of challenging stuff, and Dave is a great writer and arranger so we also had the privilege of playing new music written by him. Dave is a pro...

July 19, 2017

The way I think about writing for brass has evolved over the years, especially for the instruments with which I'm not intimately familiar. One hopes to keep learning new things, and to learn from previous experiences.

I used to write a lot for the piccolo trumpet in my...

July 18, 2017

A friend just sent me a note on an earlier post, and he mentioned that he is writing a lot for brass band. I love the sound of a brass band, and I've wanted to find my mojo to write for that ensemble. But I can't, and it got me to thinking about why.

I was fortunate to...

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