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Author Topic: Flugel in place of french horn  (Read 7401 times)
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davdud101
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« Reply #40 on: Jan 17, 2017, 01:23PM »

Thanks for the reply, Piano man!
I'll admit, I've come quite a long way since I made it a point to worry about interval limits in the low range. I try to avoid writing much down there beyond fourths / fifths and octaves, particularly below a D in the bass clef staff.
The piece I'm working on is actually a sort of short, epic orchestral piece. I think when I was writing it, I was aiming more for a good-quality flugelhorn part, so that would play into why it's not working out super-well in terms of the mix. I can say for certain that the sound of unison flugels in the staff is SUPER nice, to my ears somewhere between trumpet, horn and saxophone.

I absolutely do NOT make a big enough deal about the use of texture, that I can say for certain. I'll take heed to that!
Most importantly, I can't say I sort of "pre-envisioned" the piece so much as "sat down and hacked it out", as I'm trying to build up a portfolio of this stuff so I want complete 4 recordings of them a month. I'll be tough, but with some pushing, I'll finish roughly 100 arrangements, mixes, and rack up countless hours of performance practice/experience in the studio, by the end of this year!

Any more tips?
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« Reply #41 on: Jan 17, 2017, 03:09PM »

Thanks davdud, I was sort of throwing a lot of stuff at the wall and hoping that some stuck. Some of it was well below your pay grade, and that's a good thing.

With respect to envisioning music: You have tools that weren't available (or even imaginable, really) when I started (but I use them now). On the good side, we have the ability to 'pound away' at arrangements until they sound good, and potentially those tools could be a faster way to learn what works, compared to the old way, which was writing something, having it performed, learning that it sucked, and trying something different. It's faster. On the bad side, reliance on that resource can atrophy our imaginative and aural muscles. There's no substitute for closing your eyes, imagining musicians filing into a silent auditorium, listening in your head to what they play, and transcribing it.

I still arrange that way. I'll occasionally use Sibelius playback as a lazy, quick-and-nasty shortcut to find part-writing errors if I'm trying to get something out the door in a hurry, but usually I don't even turn the sound on--I write without any direct aural feedback and without any instrument other than a pitch pipe for keys. My piano's in the other room. The most powerful way to learn arranging is to hear something great someone else did, and ask yourself, "Why don't I ever do THAT?" Then figure out exactly what they did. It's never quite what you thought, once you start digging in. Each time, you add to your vocabulary.

I can think of so many examples--hearing a funny little unison muted trumpet part as an accompaniment, or guide tones played by flugel or trombone paired with alto flute, or a bunch of sax players standing up and playing for a minute or so, and liking the sound, and figuring out how it worked.

When you develop your aural skills, you're getting an arranging lesson every time you hear music.
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« Reply #42 on: Jan 18, 2017, 06:28AM »

You may also find that you naturally gravitate towards certain textures. I would say to embrace that, especially if you're writing things for yourself to record. Even though you're just recording for fun/for yourself, you may discover that your arrangements/compositions begin to have a signature sound because of it.
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« Reply #43 on: Jan 18, 2017, 04:55PM »

Beautiful tips! Quite often I tend to run in full-speed without a concept of how the arrangement is going to sound, trying to go in for a technical approach rather than thinking about the sound impression I'm looking to get out of the arrangement... I think it will help me a LOT to begin just thinking in sounds rather than thinking exactly what chords and voicings I'll be using. I'm going to start doing that!

On another note, my copy of "Arranging for Large Jazz Ensemble" came in today. Incredibly rich in information! That's $30 well-spent. How much of this information can be considered to carry over to different styles of music outside of jazz? Or, if I wanted to dip my toe into more serious classical arranging, what books should I be looking at (an equivalent to this one, I'm thinking)?
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« Reply #44 on: Jan 18, 2017, 05:58PM »

Beautiful tips! Quite often I tend to run in full-speed without a concept of how the arrangement is going to sound, trying to go in for a technical approach rather than thinking about the sound impression I'm looking to get out of the arrangement... I think it will help me a LOT to begin just thinking in sounds rather than thinking exactly what chords and voicings I'll be using. I'm going to start doing that!

Start with an idea, and a mental sound! Building a song from a 'technical', music-theory approach is like building a house with a wood file.

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On another note, my copy of "Arranging for Large Jazz Ensemble" came in today. Incredibly rich in information! That's $30 well-spent. How much of this information can be considered to carry over to different styles of music outside of jazz? Or, if I wanted to dip my toe into more serious classical arranging, what books should I be looking at (an equivalent to this one, I'm thinking)?

It all crosses over, and it all helps. My instinct is that if you're trying to write in a classical vein, you should learn to imitate the source material first (just as a jazz player might learn Charlie Parker before David Sanborn, but learn both). Figure out why Mahler is kicking your ass so bad, before you copy John Williams. Or do both at once.

It's about sounds and devices. Reading books is great, and so it listening to something that kills you and saying, "Why don't my arrangements sound like that?"  Same way jazz players use to learn to improvise.

I would suggest listening to music in a similar style that you're trying to write, and each time picking out ONE device you would have never thought of using (flutes used like a string section, or some odd unison color, or a rhythm device, or a melodic accompaniment or whatever) and figuring it out and adding it to your repertoire.  It applies to everything in life--if you learn ONE valuable thing, it was worth the price of admission.

The more you listen, and the more you learn, the more of those devices you have at your disposal. As Driving Park wisely said, after a while you'll have a signature sound--ideally by the accident of good taste.

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davdud101
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« Reply #45 on: Jan 20, 2017, 05:05PM »

To make a fast jump back to the very origins of this topic- Check out this short clip I put together. (I'll be redoing the mix on it to bring the brass out a bit more later.

https://soundcloud.com/davewesleyrecordings/a-heroic-comeback

In the last moment, my three flugels (plus 1 trombone) play full-blast (almost ff), and I noticed it gets this big, rich-but-mellow tone very much like horn does at a mf-f. I'd have to overdrive and little and see if I can get the same bite and brassiness without getting overly trumpety.
In this recording, I've abandoned my initially proposed BIG setup for a slightly altered group - still three flugels, but with four trombones instead of three, and only one trumpet rather than 3. I had little use for the additional trumpets as the lead should theorhetically sit on top as the melody and I didn't want anything else to be in the way of that. (As said, i'll be redoing the mix and bit to get a little more brass and a little less strings.)

I'm still set on getting my hands on a marching french horn, but this horn gives such a nice sounds for this stuff at the moment. We'll see what ends up happening
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« Reply #46 on: Jan 21, 2017, 11:03AM »

That sounds nice! You're selling yourself a little short. It would work well as theme music (I intend that as a compliment). It came across well on my mediocre computer speakers, which is a good sign (it's amazing how easy it is to mix something on headphones or studio monitors and then have it disappear when played on a car stereo or computer).

My taste (and that's all it is) would be to lighten up the texture on the lead and make it more pointed, leaving room to bring out the rhythmic trombone figures a little. What if you made it a solo for more impact? Just an idea.

Anyway, nice job!
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« Reply #47 on: Jan 21, 2017, 07:30PM »

I have a memory from somewhere learning about orchestration and Aaron Copland taking lessons from Nadia Boulanger. The gist was that horns just don't have the pointed attack of a trumpet, and the reference was the intro to Daphnis and Chloe by Maurive Ravel, who was one of the great orchestrators of all time. That example had something like harps hitting a short note on all the horn notes to help bring emphasis to the attacks.

You're already doing something similar to that with the piano in there, which also has a nice, crisp attack, although the piano notes are still long. Of course, performance can compensate a lot for the natural shortcomings of an instrument: really exaggerating the type of attack on different notes - when they differ - can really make a recording sparkle, in addition to specific orchestration effects.

Food for thought.
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davdud101
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« Reply #48 on: Jan 24, 2017, 06:47PM »

Thanks for the tips, guys! I have messed with the tune a bit since then, but it's been a pretty short window so I probably won't be uploading a new version so soon. In any case, I wrote an older tune a while and ago worked on the arrangement in the last couple days, eventually coming to recording this track:

https://soundcloud.com/davewesleyrecordings/the-adventures-of-mr-marvelous

Here I focused a lot more on soli-type material. You can probably see that it's overall quite a bit more fleshed out than the last track.

Experimentation is showing me the possibilities (and limits) of the flugel, but actually it makes a SURPRISINGLY nice stand-in, and also has a whole lot of its own character. It fits perfectly as an upper extension of the trombones with a little more bite, OR a lower end for the trumpets that can bite just as much if necessary.

This is exciting!!  :D
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« Reply #49 on: Jan 24, 2017, 08:24PM »

Great job! Lots of fun stuff, and I like the little flurry right before the ending. Keep it up, man.
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