Jazz Arranging Tutorial by Doug Bristol

Doug Bristol teaches music at Alabama State University.  He has also put together a nice tutorial on jazz arranging that can be accessed for free here.  It includes topics on the instrument ranges, voicings, various compositional techniques, harmony, and more.

It is designed to go along with the University of Northern Colorado Jazz Lab Band I’s compact disc, Alive XV: This One’s for Sandy.  While I don’t have this album (you can probably get it by contacting UNC’s School of Music, if it’s still available), you don’t need the audio examples to get a lot out of Bristol’s tutorial.  He has examples in notation for you to look at and excellent discussions of a variety of topics.  For example, here is what he has to say about using muted brass.

Many textural colors and shades can be created using muted brass. Many different types of mutes were created and used during the swing era. Still in common use today are the following: cup, straight, plunger, harmon, bucket, and sometimes the hat. For the latter two (bucket and hat), you are more likely to see written into the part “play into stand”, as a more convenient replacement. Have a musician friend demonstrate each of the various types of mutes and ask what to avoid when writing for them.

There are certain circumstances where mutes are essential. To help adjust balance problems, to blend better with flutes and clarinets, and to create special harmonic textures.

When writing muted parts, give the player ample time to take a mute out or put it in – especially trombonists. Mute changes should be clearly indicated in the parts – see example below. Use the term “Mute Out” not “Open”, because open could have a different meaning, such as a solo section in which the repeats are open ended.

His whole tutorial is worth poking around in more detail, so go check it out.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.