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The Trombone ForumTeaching & LearningComposition, Arranging and Theory(Moderator: zemry) old Hollywood-style intros (Arrangement help?)
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davdud101
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« on: Aug 09, 2017, 04:45PM »

Hey guys,
I'm preparing for a church Christmas Concert (gotta start early!!) in which I've got a pretty good small orchestra to work with. However, I've been diving into it a bit and I'm wondering what some good sources would be for learning to write intros like these:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AH2l1Hb_kS0
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qSZgLVHKih8

Very lush, full intros with incredibly unique, odd, beautiful, and unconventional chord changes under very clear and precise melodies that relate directly to the thematic elements of the tune's primary melody.
I'm thinking to transcribe some of these - first the melodic choices, then the chords, and then lightweight transcriptions for the parts - just to get a sense of how things like this can be arranged.

But does anyone have any tips? Any specific tutorials, or even just good listening-sources for material that'd help me get more into this sort of writing?
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« Reply #1 on: Aug 09, 2017, 11:48PM »

As for your first link, if you'd like to see the introduction to Tommy Newsom's arrangement of "Georgia," I can send it.  I made a concert pitch score by reverse engineering the parts.
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« Reply #2 on: Aug 10, 2017, 01:29AM »

Lush and full depends on the forces available to you.

Many introductions are based on an easily recognisable motif from the melody, a recognisable chord sequence or a key rhythm from the following material . A valid alternative method is to write something completely unrelated melodically but appropriate in character, as in most Nelson Riddle charts.

Reharmonisation is always fun, I think. One feature of these styles is that the melody note, or important notes of the phrase, are interesting notes in the harmony. They are 7ths or 9ths or b9ths or altered 5ths etc. Another feature that you can hear in the two clips you posted is that chromatic movement is important. It can be in the bass line or in the inner parts. In fact, as long as the part writing flows smoothly, you can make all sorts of seemingly unrelated harmonic shifts. Major 6th chords were also much used in this genre, but fell out of fashion afterwards.

The Jazz Theory Book by Mark Levine has two superb and crystal clear chapters on reharmonisation, with examples and an explanation of what's going on.

The Professional Arranger Composer by Russell Garcia has a chapter specifically on writing introductions. He gives an example construction of an intro step by step. Russell Garcia worked a lot in Hollywood and his career spanned the era you're interested in. In any case, it's a must have book. If you don't already have it, but it today! Now!



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« Reply #3 on: Aug 10, 2017, 03:58PM »

Don't underestimate the impact of orchestration on this style. Those guys really knew how to construct a studio orchestra and write for it.

As far as orchestration goes, I highly suspect they used small orchestras, because when it comes to those richer modern harmonies, few instruments helps with harmonic clarity. Gives the performers a better chance to identify the context of their unique notes and lines. Unless you happen to get a recording gig with someone uber-good like the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, of course. :D

Anyway, a big part of those examples you chose was the string writing. So, write for strings, too. Ask good string players about what they like and hate about bowings and stuff.

And, as I've said before, I'm all for your transcribing the stuff. The critical listening and problem solving of making a good transcription is a most excellent and brutal instructor.
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« Reply #4 on: Aug 10, 2017, 04:00PM »

Oh, and as for resources: many places will sell you study scores if you ask for them. One notable store not well-known by jazz guys but is pretty great (and is based in Madison Heights!) is Luck's Music Library. Great resource for classical scores.
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davdud101
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« Reply #5 on: Aug 17, 2017, 07:23AM »

As for your first link, if you'd like to see the introduction to Tommy Newsom's arrangement of "Georgia," I can send it.  I made a concert pitch score by reverse engineering the parts.

I am absolutely not opposed to that, AT Pant I'll PM you  Good!


Lush and full depends on the forces available to you.

Many introductions are based on an easily recognisable motif from the melody, a recognisable chord sequence or a key rhythm from the following material . A valid alternative method is to write something completely unrelated melodically but appropriate in character, as in most Nelson Riddle charts.

Reharmonisation is always fun, I think. One feature of these styles is that the melody note, or important notes of the phrase, are interesting notes in the harmony. They are 7ths or 9ths or b9ths or altered 5ths etc. Another feature that you can hear in the two clips you posted is that chromatic movement is important. It can be in the bass line or in the inner parts. In fact, as long as the part writing flows smoothly, you can make all sorts of seemingly unrelated harmonic shifts. Major 6th chords were also much used in this genre, but fell out of fashion afterwards.

The Jazz Theory Book by Mark Levine has two superb and crystal clear chapters on reharmonisation, with examples and an explanation of what's going on.

The Professional Arranger Composer by Russell Garcia has a chapter specifically on writing introductions. He gives an example construction of an intro step by step. Russell Garcia worked a lot in Hollywood and his career spanned the era you're interested in. In any case, it's a must have book. If you don't already have it, but it today! Now!

Beautiful info, SS. I've got Levine's Jazz Piano book (too far  over my head), but I think it'd be a good investment for me to grab the one you mentioned up there, according to the reviews I'm seeing online. Exciting! Thanks :)


Don't underestimate the impact of orchestration on this style. Those guys really knew how to construct a studio orchestra and write for it.

As far as orchestration goes, I highly suspect they used small orchestras, because when it comes to those richer modern harmonies, few instruments helps with harmonic clarity. Gives the performers a better chance to identify the context of their unique notes and lines. Unless you happen to get a recording gig with someone uber-good like the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, of course. :D

Anyway, a big part of those examples you chose was the string writing. So, write for strings, too. Ask good string players about what they like and hate about bowings and stuff.

And, as I've said before, I'm all for your transcribing the stuff. The critical listening and problem solving of making a good transcription is a most excellent and brutal instructor.

Very good points, Andrew - especially about 'writing for strings'. I'll get in the heads of some of my string-playing friends and see what's good and what's not.

Thanks a lot fellas, I'm excited to see what I'm able to pick up, learn, and execute  Good!
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davdud101
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« Reply #6 on: Sep 27, 2017, 11:04AM »

Lots of study to do! My copy of "The Professional Arranger" is in the mail. Looking veeery forward to getting into it!
I'm actually finding that I enjoy arranging and composing more than performing. At the same time, far more of my natural talent lies in arranging than it ever has in other things. Seriously excited to deepen my knowledge for arranging!!
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