Trigonometry :: ARRANGED

It’s finished; OR; I guess a better thing to say would be, “It’s been sent.”

What a strange sensation it is when almost an entire month of busting a** comes down to only 16 megabytes. Such a crazy world we’re livin’ in!!?? I mean, at least a score is printed on paper. Really, does 16 megabytes even exist!!!???


It’s quite remarkable HOW MUCH time and patience it takes to be an artist.

I’m still not 100% satisfied with the guide to notation (above).
It just seems like there’s never quite enough time or money to do every little thing.
(I just noticed that I spelled some words wrong… for F*^cks sake)
To be fair, in the past I probably wouldn’t even have made a page like this.
There’s actually something to be said for just letting (really good) musicians use their imaginations when it comes to graphic notation.
But, because their time (and probably money!) will also be limited, I had to be as comprehensive as possible on every front.
Another good example:::


I can almost guarantee that the arrangement will end up sounding worse if they just start the first rehearsal at the first measure. This isn’t always the best approach in rehearsals. But I can also guarantee you that Gary Schwartz doesn’t have time to analyze the score in depth before the first rehearsal!! The guide to rehearsing the chart is probably almost as valuable as the chart itself.
[I’ll have to ask Gary, cause who knows; he might not even use it.]

All I have to say is that COMPUTERS ARE  A PAIN IN THE ARSE!

Original plan = “sketch” everything out on paper and then do the final score digitally.
However, the paper “sketch” turned out beautifully.
All of the music was there, and it looked nice (enough).
Given the fact that there’s NO conductor, they don’t really NEED a score anyway.
Following my original plan, I sat down in front of the computer and started inputting the score into (one of the big two) notation software programs.
It took me about 5 minutes to realize that what I was doing was ridiculous.
Simply put, it was the wrong tool for the job.
I realized that the arrangement would be better off if I hand wrote the parts.
I made sure that this was a good idea by doing a couple quick tests.
Check. Good Idea. For Sure. Email Schwartz.

I wrote a short email to Mr. Schwartz saying…
“unless you strongly object I’m going to hand-write the parts.”
To make a long story short, he objected.
Now I HAVE TO do this with notation software.

**A quick word to the wise:
When you’re making a deal for an arrangement, make sure to take into account the time you will spend inputting everything into notation software.
These days it’s just assumed that you will.
HOWEVER, it is my opinion that they are two different tasks.

ANYWAY, pretty much every aspect of getting this score into digital format was a serious pain in the arse!!!! Man, it got pretty bad (after staying up until 5am three nights in a row).
I hate to say it, but computers can be such a pain in the A*&^%$#sss.

Music Notation Software = A Pain In The ARSE!!!!!!!!

–>compared with using a pencil… even putting in SLURS=PainInTheArse
–>Layers, layers, layers… Inputting DRUMS=PainInTheArse
–>Computers need to space everything mathematically… PIANO=PainInTheArse
–>Then once everything has been input… CLEAN UP=PainInTheArse!
–>Great, everything is clean… FORMATTING=PainInTheArse!!

There is just SOOOO much to be said for using a pencil and writing by hand!!!!!!

Unfortunately, here’s another good example…
If you look at the hand-written scores below (in the previous post), you can see a graphic that kind of looks like a skateboarding quarter-pipe.
I had a great plan for drawing this graphic notation into the parts.
But once I was required to do it digitally it all fell apart.
There was just no way that I could put this crap into the score!!
It’s so frickin’ kitsch!
It was definitely 5am, but I still can’t believe I even made that.
maybe I should get it tattooed on my forehead as a reminder of my complete lack of talent.
I ended up using a decrescendo and a line;;;
Totally sucks compared with what I was going to draw.

ANYWAY, there is of course two sides in any situation, and there were some advantages to using the notation software after all… Most everything looks nice and crispy clean.
In the end (after a few all-night extravaganzas);
All of the FINAL parts and the score look REALLY great…
Here’s the first page of Erik Hove’s part.

**I’m not going to put the FINAL score/parts in their entirety online for a variety of reasons.
But, we can work something out if you’re interested in checking ’em out!

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.

Gary Schwartz’s LETTINGO

Gary Schwartz
So I’ve been commissioned by Gary Schwartz to write an arrangement for his amazing project entitled LETTINGO (instrumentation::: trumpet/flugelhorn, alto sax/flute, soprano/tenor sax, tenor/bass clarinet, violin, 2 keyboardists, electric guitar, upright bass and 2 drummers). To start the process I did a bunch of research…
Thankfully, WE ARE LIVING IN THE FUTURE and everything I could possible need (and more!) is just a couple mouse clicks (or finger taps!!) away.


You can stream an entire LETTINGO concert (in great quality) at the following link:::


I’ll be arranging “Trigonometry” composed by Ornette Coleman and Pat Metheny.



This group is capable of creating and achieving extreeeeeeeeeeemely unique sounds live.
The catch is that it’s an ensemble of 11 and there’s NO CONDUCTOR…
This will pose serious challenges.