Staff Paper & Pencils & Erasers & Rulers


So the arrangement of “Trigonometry” (for LETTINGO) is down on paper.

Literally; 7 pages of hand notated A3 staff paper.
Getting to this point was an interesting process.


This is the baseline that starts above…

and ends below…


Some Thoughts, Notes, Quotes, and Sketches.

What turned out the be the most important thought:

A couple random snippets from my notes:
“Solos ONLY if it’s the last logical option…”
“What seems like it will cut vs. what will actually cut”
“REALLY get into the insides of the horns:
“think about textures like a painter or chef”
“BIG scope… long ideas… volcanic explosions are possible”
“USE SILENCE in the arrangement”
“This group is NOT a big band”
“Solos where people want to clap afterwards =  NO”
“no conductor/limited rehearsals = CAREFUL!!!!”

This Ornette Coleman quote was constantly hovering around my brain:
“—There is a music that has the quality to preserve life”

An Early Sketch:


So now it’s time for music notation software… right…?

So here’s something I’d like to talk about.
—>Hand Writing vs. Notation Software<—
Let me take a brief moment to regail you with a small parable of two budding composer/arrangers…

It was our senior year at Boulder High.
Matt Vorzimer and I were co-composing our first epic masterwork for the big band.
We had countless “creative explosion sessions” and the chart was all down on paper.
The best music teacher I’ve ever had thought it would be a good idea for us to put it into (one of the big two) notation software programs so that we could make the parts quicker and clearer.
We literally spent hours in this stinky little room trying to put in the first 8 bars.
Eventually we got so frustrated that we just said f*** it, and decided to hand write ALL of the parts.
What did we loose?
valuable time learning the ins and outs of early notation software-isms.
What did we gain?
infinitely more??
who knows.
What I do know is that the entire process was enough to change my life.

Now I’ve used my fair share of notation software.
I’ve produced many breathtakingly clear scores, and had people ‘oohing’ and ‘aahing’ at my parts.
But I’m realizing more and more, every single time, that something just gets lost.
Turning all of that raw creativity into 1’s and 0’s has an effect.
Some would say that this is ludicrous (and part of me agrees with them), but the other part knows better.

For this arrangement I WILL be using notation software.
I’m actually using it as an opportunity to learn ‘the other’ one.
But I don’t want young budding composer/arrangers to think that this is what they should be doing.
It always depends on context, but there always has been and always will be something to be said for HAND WRITTEN MUSIC.
You come through.
come through.
Did Beethoven use notation software for the 9th?
Would he have if it was available!?

Just like a carpenter spends his or her days with their hands on wood, so must a composer/arranger spend his or her days with their hands on music.
The score is not music<–
It’s usually just white paper with black dots.
Maybe the process of composing/arranging is the closest music ever comes to really having mass?
Of course music exists physically; sound is waves traveling through air.
you know what I’m saying?

I could go on and on…
And I will when I finally get into “Vers La Flamme”
But right now, it’s LETTINGO.
So music notation software here I come!!!
I wonder if it will be as good (or better?) than the hand-written rough draft?
Hopefully I’ll find out.

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