Category Archives: Orchestration

Charles Ives for Jazz Orchestra Pt. 1 – “Tom Sails Away”

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I’d like to welcome composer and arranger Jack Cooper to Professorscosco as my first featured guest contributor. I’ve invited Jack to share with you some of his arrangements of Charles Ives’ music from his monumental 2014 release, Mists – Charles … Continue reading

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Linear Harmony #4 – Inner Roots and Voice Leading Pt. 2

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…the effect is fluid and free, almost like a composition is improvising with itself. I like this technique and I use it often. Thinking about strong lines and counterpoint first, and chords and harmonic movement second can make it all … Continue reading

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The First Jazz Composer?

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Claude Debussy? Discuss…. Professorscosco is worn out by the holidays, a burning, but very cold rooftop New Years jazz gig, and a long bike ride today, and is thus not inclined at the moment to pontificate about music theory. But … Continue reading

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Top Down #6: Melodic Motion–Space is the Place

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You can give your writing rhythmic tension by varying the “groove” under a melody, melodic line, or syncopated figure. You can also create space for counterlines and more music material under, after and around your melodic figures. This adds a … Continue reading

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Scoring and Controlling Improvisation #1–Rhythmic Cells

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I’ve written a lot of ensemble music where my intention was to create an improvised texture, or a feel of rhythmic and melodic freedom—fully notated music that sounds non-metered and non-harmonic. Sometimes it works, sometimes it don’t. In many instances … Continue reading

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“Serious” Improvisation-Surfing the Third Stream

I’m writing a piece for string quartet and 3 percussionists. In this piece I want to have the players improvise in certain passages. This creates many challenges, not the least of which is how to notate improvisation. I’ve done this … Continue reading

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The Doctor is In

In an arrangement for my ensemble I performed a lot of surgery on Duke’s classic Solitude. I’ll provide an analysis and score and musical samples in my next post, but I wanted to give a little background on the technique … Continue reading

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Steal this Score

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To follow-up on my post about Gil Evans’ piece Blues for Pablo (Blues for Pablo True to Form),  I confess I’m guilty of petty theft. In a few bars of a new piece, Gaslight, which I performed with my Tentet … Continue reading

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“Blues for Pablo”–True to Form

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After the Ellington study group last week, a few of us were hanging out having lunch. For 2.5 hours we were buried in the score of Gil Evans’ Blues for Pablo. I had struggled with one particular passage, so I … Continue reading

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A Jazz Chord to Say….

I rarely hear musicians discuss harmony, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not on their minds. They discuss sound, and here’s how it usually goes: “What’s that chord?” “Which one” “The funny one?” “Oh that, it’s this…” bling, strum…“Oh right, … Continue reading

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