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Discussion Starter #1
Hi y'all!

Not completely sure that the is the right forum but i'll give it a try.

I'm looking for a bigband arrangement with lots of dynamics for my bigband and me to practice. something like Mintzer's "Beyond the Limit". Maybe also with rhythm group (since beyond the limit is without).

I'm looking for a piece where dynamic changes work naturally otherwise I could use every arrangement. But it should make sense.

Your help is very much appreciated!

Thanks,
CHristian
 

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as was suggested, Basie charts.....
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Hey,
thanks a lot.
That's a great one.
But I'm still looking for one with more dynamics within a shorter part of the arrangement. Maybe more microdynamics. You know as in "Beyond the Limits" but with the whole band.
It'S a bit more of an exercise.
All the best,
Christian
 

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I would start by looking at some of Maria Schneider's (good German name :wink:) charts.
 

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I don’t understand why you have to go looking for charts with dynamics written in them. Give a critical listen to what is in your book, and ADD dynamics if you don’t already have them written. Go beyond the ink.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Maria Schneider, yes! Sounds familiar :)


@Dr. G: It's only for practical reasons. I need it as an example how dynamics were written down. I change them often in the way I like it or in the way I heard it on record. Dynamics in our books are clear but not always played properly. I'm looking for a different piece to get new drive into the old stuff since we practiced the old ones a lot and sometimes there are signs of fatigue. If you take "Beyond The Limit" there is a lot happening all the time and it sharpens sense for dynamics. That's what I wanna do: Transfer the sharped sense :) to our book.
 

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I don’t understand why you have to go looking for charts with dynamics written in them. Give a critical listen to what is in your book, and ADD dynamics if you don’t already have them written. Go beyond the ink.
I've gotta agree here. Just about every chart will have dynamics marked. Now getting the band to actually PLAY them is another story. And using your ears to determine what to bring out when and when be in the background is also important. We can program a machine to play music, but the people make it musical.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
My idea is to use a chart like an etude. If I study my horn I play etudes that focus on a certain technical problem. Why shouldn't I use a chart as an etude to focus on a certain problem. I pick a couple of bars and practice them to transfer the idea to another chart.

It's not a problem with me hearing dynamics or being able to add dynamics. It's about using a chart where the arranger used a lot of dynamics and integrated them into his writing.
Somehow like the books with orchestral studies used by for example classical clarinet players.
 

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@Dr. G: It's only for practical reasons. I need it as an example how dynamics were written down. I change them often in the way I like it or in the way I heard it on record. Dynamics in our books are clear but not always played properly. I'm looking for a different piece to get new drive into the old stuff since we practiced the old ones a lot and sometimes there are signs of fatigue. If you take "Beyond The Limit" there is a lot happening all the time and it sharpens sense for dynamics. That's what I wanna do: Transfer the sharped sense :) to our book.
So you’re looking to induce a culture change with one chart? I don’t understand why you’d think that a route to success. It’s got to come from the musicians. Buy a set of mechanical pencils, and make a gift of them to your band. Seriously. Start the conversation with your band “Did anyone hear the difference made in that section of the last chart when we exaggerated the dynamics? Where else might we do that?” Etc.

I was thinking about your thread while in rehearsal last night. We keep pencils on the stand, and regularly pause to mark up dynamics - make a forte into a mezzoforte here, make a mezzoforte into a piano. Write in cressendos and decressendos - and rehearse them to ingrain the goal!

You don’t need a new chart, you need a new awareness, a new shared goal of musicianship.

Consider reading “The Inner Game of Music” for ideas about how to guide a new and growing sense of awareness.
 

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That’s what I’m doing as well. I’m just trying different ways of solving a problem.

Thanks a lot for your ideas!
Christian, with all due respect, I think Dr G is SPOT ON. I've been playing in big bands on a professional level for 35 yrs now (leading one for 13) and all of them have had various levels of "attention to detail" pertaining to literally everything from ensemble concept to dynamics (kind of one in the same actually, but) and in every........EVERY situation it boils down to the individual players themselves or having a leader hold everyone more accountable to those pesky details. I don't know if you're the leader of this band or in any leadership position, but nonetheless, as a member, you certainly have the right/power to voice your opinion/concern about what you may perceive to be a lack of attention to detail when it comes to dynamics. Be kind, gentle and all of that good stuff (because we all know musicians can be pretty fragile when it comes to topics like this), but I'm pretty confident that if you present the issue in the right way and at least get the other players to be more aware of this, they'll at least to some extent come around.
Just my 2 cents/pfennig!

John
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Hi to all of you!

I'm not arguing with Dr G. I'm thankful for all the ideas and full of respect for all your knowledge.
Let me explain what I'm doing.
First I'm practicing the chart. During that I'm talking about dynamics and am explaining the idea behind them. Of course all of them use pencils and I always have a lot of them in my bag to share them. Before introducing a chart I'm looking for sound clips and listen to them with the chart in hands and maybe add something. During the rehearsals I'm listening together with the band to the arrangement on youtube or on record or where ever I have it. We are following the melody, recognising the counterparts, giving a close listen to the dynamics.
I'm practicing the charts and I'm practicing scales with the band, playing soft, playing loud, playing crescendo, playing decrescendo, playing sforzato, playing fortepiano, and so on. I training to recognise the melody or the voice leading part. I do section rehearsals to practice the dynamic within the section from the fourth or fifth voice up to the lead. I'm practicing the leads together to make clear who plays the melody and who is leading the counterpart or what ever.
There are more things I do practice, of course, but no time to mention all...
One chart I really like is Kerchners arrangement of Birdland. Or Flight of the foo birds (btw. what does that mean?) or a lot more. Very dynamic playing required.

It's only that I'm sometimes looking for something new to practice, and yes, with a certain aspect in mind. That was my reason to ask.
I'm also planing my rehearsals a lot in front. So we have charts we can learn within three month, some take half a year and some maybe more. We are working on improvisation, articulations, phrasing, and all that stuff. I'm listening during the rehearsals to jazz for obvious reasons.

Sometimes people play things that are not marked and visa versa. So I have to practice again and again. If we played a chart really good on one gig that doesn't mean we can do it again on the same gig. So it's also a matter of consistency. A topic to work on.

I hope I made my point clear. Of course I'm developing and I do hope it never ends.

Please, keep the ideas coming.

All the best,
Christian
 

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Christian, I am starting to get a picture that your band plays at an intermediate level. Correct?

I suggest that rather than listening to YouTube and other, that you get the band to listen - critically - to itself. It sounds like you are teaching them to hear the voices, and that’s great. With regard to dynamics though, periodically stop the band when you hear a section do it Right. Have them play it for the whole band, and then have the band play and try to emulate that success. It’s a matter of building on best practices/best examples. Pick a chart that has similar lines, or complementary soli sections, and have each section play theirs. If they are listening (and at all competitive), they will hear the opportunities to exaggerate dynamics and swing. Let them go too far with each - LOUD/soft, sickeningly wide swing/light swing, wide vibrato/controlled vibrato. If they cannot exaggerate it, then they likely cannot control it.

Above all, make it musical and enjoy the path.

Regards to all,

George
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Hi!
I record parts of the rehearsal and we give a listen to the recorded to find out how things work. That’s often very illustrative.

How do you work on swing, or don’t Americans have to work on this topic?

Regards,
Christian
 

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If you listen to so many recordings, how do you encourage the musicians to listen in real time?

I have NEVER come off the band stand at the end of the evening and wondered how the band played. You need to be aware in the moment, else it's too late to make any changes. Once the gig is over, it is done.
 

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Regarding grumps suggestions about using your own playing as a guide, keep in mind that balance has a lot to do with volume. An imbalanced section (or band) has to play, player-to-player, at full blast to sound loud (full). A well-balanced band can sound louder at a lesser player-to-player volume than an unbalanced band. Conversely, if the balance is even, you can get a very pleasing piano. The point being that even balance affects volume.
 
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