Ideas on what next to take on

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Digidog
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Ideas on what next to take on

Post by Digidog » Fri May 08, 2020 2:22 am

Hi everybody!

I'm currently out of note jobs, since I fulfilled my last commission some days ago, and because of this irksome, disrupting corona virus and all the shutdowns it imposes on us, I have the time to compose or arrange something just for the fun and pleasure of it. The question is: What should it be? Should I arrange an existing song - and if so: what? Should I compose something entirely new, and if so: what could that be?

The preferences are:

1) It has to be for the Big Band setting - but can be within reasonable alterations in the reeds or horns, f.ex. flutes/sopranos/clarinets and euphonium/tuba/fluegelhorn alterations.

2) It has to be a reasonable piece of music that fits the performing standards and traditions of the Big Band; not a symphony or a twenty minutes long multi-modal experiment with polymetric writing in all parts.

So I'm looking for ideas that might inspire me, and give me some fresh takes on what to arrange or compose; bring it on!

I cannot guarantee that I'll pick up and implement any and all that comes up, but I'll sure let you - and the person(s) whose suggestion(s) I do take on - know.

Ideas I myself consider, are: An arrangement for a bass trombone feature of "Con Alma". A slightly wild version of "Dat Dere" with the classical trumpet and tenor sax soloists (not a true feature, though). Compositions on texts from some German poets, in German (among them maybe Rilke) or compositions on texts from French poets, in French (from maybe Verlaine, Rimbaud and Baudelaire).

Any input is greatly welcomed and will be humbly considered.

Thanks in advance!
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BGuttman
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Re: Ideas on what next to take on

Post by BGuttman » Fri May 08, 2020 7:49 am

I have an CD of Tommy Dorsey with a tune I had never heard before. It's called "Wagon Wheels" and is a paraphrase of a tune from Dvorak's "New World" Symphony (the English Hon solo from the 2nd Movement). Adoption of Classical themes into Big Band tunes was incredibly popular in the 1940s and a nice lyrical theme works great as a trombone ballad. Other pieces from the period include the Polovetsian Dances, Song of the Volga Boatmen, and Tchaikovsky's 6th Symphony (obviously just a theme -- keep it to 3-5 minutes running time).

Two of the groups I'm on hiatus from are dance bands for Seniors and they like a nice "buckle polisher" (slow dance). I like a nice ballad to play (I'll have to fight with Baileyman who also plays with me). A nice piece a la Fontana or Noel would be just the ticket. Maybe you can make both of us happy with a duet.

I'm really glad you are over your bout with this awful disease. Hope things get back to normal sooner rather than later.
Bruce Guttman
Merrimack Valley Philharmonic Orchestra
"Almost Professional"
Gary
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Re: Ideas on what next to take on

Post by Gary » Fri May 08, 2020 9:39 am

I must be missing something . . why are you asking us?
sungfw
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Re: Ideas on what next to take on

Post by sungfw » Fri May 08, 2020 10:41 am

Gary wrote:
Fri May 08, 2020 9:39 am
I must be missing something . . why are you asking us?
:???:
Digidog wrote:
Fri May 08, 2020 2:22 am
So I'm looking for ideas that might inspire me, and give me some fresh takes on what to arrange or compose; bring it on!
Seems clear enough, no??? :idk:
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Re: Ideas on what next to take on

Post by harrisonreed » Fri May 08, 2020 4:12 pm

Can you beat the Nathaniel Shilkret trombone concerto?

Before you say "no, I said no long symphony pieces", if you haven't heard it, you should. I think he wrote it for Dorsey, and it might as be a solo for trombone and big band. Great piece. Shame we can't play it since the music is not properly published. But if you were to write something better, more playable, and made it accessible and specifically for trombone and big band (as opposed to locked in Shilkret's relatives house and for symphony), you might have a winner!

Gary
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Re: Ideas on what next to take on

Post by Gary » Sat May 09, 2020 2:08 pm

sungfw wrote:
Fri May 08, 2020 10:41 am
Seems clear enough, no?
What I am implying is that you are looking for something to challenge you, to call forth your passion and, at the same time, is yours. To me, that means creating something that is you from within, not from anybody else. Use your imagination and do what really inspires you.
Last edited by Gary on Wed May 13, 2020 9:26 am, edited 1 time in total.
sungfw
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Re: Ideas on what next to take on

Post by sungfw » Sat May 09, 2020 4:20 pm

Gary wrote:
Sat May 09, 2020 2:08 pm
sungfw wrote:
Fri May 08, 2020 10:41 am
Seems clear enough, no??? :idk:
What I am implying is that you are looking for something to challenge you, to call forth your passion and, at the same time, is yours. To me, that means creating something that is you from within, not from anybody else. Use your imagination and do what really inspires you.
Then why play music composed or transacribed by someone else at all instead of just using your imagination and creating something from within you?

Composers—even GREAT composers—draw on the work of others for inspiration all the time. One thinks, e.g of Brahm's Variationen über ein Thema von Jos. Haydn, Czerny's "Variationen auf 'Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser', Saint-Saëns, Tortises from Carnival of the Animals, Guiliani's Variations sur un Thême de G. F. Haendel, or the numerous Beethoven variations for solo piano, e.g., 33 Variations on a waltz by Anton Diabelli, Seven Variations on "God Save the King," Variations on Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen from The Magic Flute, Variations on Bei Männern welche Liebe fühlen from The Magic Flute, Five Variations on "Rule Britannia," 12 Variations on "See, the Conqu'ring Hero Comes!" from Judas Maccabaeus, Thirteen variations on the aria "Es war einmal ein alter Mann" from Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf's opera Das rote Käppchen, Six variations on a Swiss song for piano or harp, Ten variations on "La stessa, la stessissima" from Antonio Salieri's opera Falstaff, Twelve variations on the Russian dance from Paul Wranitzky's ballet Das Waldmädchen, etc. And don't forget that most of Bach's masses, oratorios, and cantatas were built around existing Lutheran and Catholic hymns: indeed, Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern, BWV 1, and Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 645, could fairly be characterized as variations on hymns—not simply the texts, but the tunes and harmonizations as well—by Philipp Nicolai.

The point being that those works are no less creative or inspired, and no less "theirs" for having been inspired by a previously published work.
Gary
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Re: Ideas on what next to take on

Post by Gary » Sat May 09, 2020 4:42 pm

I don't think I need a musicological history. Maybe I'm just saying this wrong. I'm just encouraging you to find what's within yourself. . . FWIW.
Digidog
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Re: Ideas on what next to take on

Post by Digidog » Sun May 10, 2020 3:37 am

Thanks for the input so far!

@harrisonreed : What I meant with "symphonies" was that the piece should be both reasonable to write and listen to. I don't know if Shilkret's concerto is in multiple movements, but to compose/arrange a trombone feature for Big Band of about 5-8 minutes playing time, is to me within normal praxis of Big Band performances and writing. To do the same of about 15-30 minutes playing time, is firstly a totally different writing project and secondly at the limits of what's common to perform for a Big Band. It is a cool pice you posted but if I go the way of a longer, more concerto-like piece, I have to set aside a lot of time to it.

@BGuttman : I'll definitely look into this proposal. I am a little bit undecided on whether to arrange an existing piece or compose something entirely new. I've never written anything for a trombone duet and Big Band, so it's about time.

Thanks for your consideration! I really, really hope that what I had was corona, so I got away as best I could with it; but it sure wasn't fun - at all. This far I've had two stints with whatever it was: The first was the worst, with skullsplitting headache and a tiredness so heavy that I dreaded to fall asleep because it felt like I'd never wake up again if I did. The second, that came on last week, was a lighter and shorter version of the first, but with much more coughing and much more problems in the throat, sinuses and ears. It was not a cold with running and sniffling and sneezing: I cannot say anything other than problems. Like that the systems got stiff, unable to function normally and foreign to my system as a whole. I really, really hope you, and everybody here, can stay away from this infection.
Gary wrote:
Fri May 08, 2020 9:39 am
I must be missing something . . why are you asking us?
@Gary : When I compose or arrange music for my own behalf, there are several layers of desicions that need to be made and I have no problems making them, at all levels. The most basic level, to me, is to decide what I should write; for what ensemble, what song, what style, and so on. The more complex level is to decide inside the writing itself; how to carry through a certain part, or what instrument should do what, and so on.

Sometimes I come to a point where I'm tired of my own ideas and my perspective, and most often it solves itself in that I get a commission, where the demands and wishes of the commissioner force me to think in ways, and do things I likely wouldn't have come up with on my own. I ask for input and suggestions on the most basic level here, because though I have ideas of my own on what I could do, I'm a little bored of them and too familiar with my own ways. So why not ask people that I've never met other than here for new ideas on what could be fun to arrange or compose for the Big Band setting?

I've already had two, to me, totally new ideas that I never would've come up with myself, so it's so far been a good move to ask. I can feel productiveness welling up through my writing system again.
Welcome to visit my web store: https://www.danieleng.com/
Gary
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Re: Ideas on what next to take on

Post by Gary » Sun May 10, 2020 10:59 am

Daniel, I know you know what you are doing and I'm definitely not meaning to talk down to you. It's just that there is such a wealth of possibilities out there that, personally, I would go with my own intuition. But if you want outside ideas, go for it.
Digidog
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Re: Ideas on what next to take on

Post by Digidog » Wed May 13, 2020 12:16 am

Gary wrote:
Sun May 10, 2020 10:59 am
Daniel, I know you know what you are doing and I'm definitely not meaning to talk down to you. It's just that there is such a wealth of possibilities out there that, personally, I would go with my own intuition. But if you want outside ideas, go for it.
Gary: I didn't take it that way, but I wanted to give you a more detailed - and wordy(!) - answer because the practical process of meta-writing to me is both interesting and useful to change from time to time. I try to keep a balance in why and what I write, and now when it's completely void of commissions for any and all music, I felt it could be time to ask for new ideas on what to do.
Welcome to visit my web store: https://www.danieleng.com/
Vegasbound
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Re: Ideas on what next to take on

Post by Vegasbound » Wed May 13, 2020 3:38 am

BGuttman wrote:
Fri May 08, 2020 7:49 am
I have an CD of Tommy Dorsey with a tune I had never heard before. It's called "Wagon Wheels" and is a paraphrase of a tune from Dvorak's "New World" Symphony (the English Hon solo from the 2nd Movement). Adoption of Classical themes into Big Band tunes was incredibly popular in the 1940s and a nice lyrical theme works great as a trombone ballad. Other pieces from the period include the Polovetsian Dances, Song of the Volga Boatmen, and Tchaikovsky's 6th Symphony (obviously just a theme -- keep it to 3-5 minutes running time).

Two of the groups I'm on hiatus from are dance bands for Seniors and they like a nice "buckle polisher" (slow dance). I like a nice ballad to play (I'll have to fight with Baileyman who also plays with me). A nice piece a la Fontana or Noel would be just the ticket. Maybe you can make both of us happy with a duet.

I'm really glad you are over your bout with this awful disease. Hope things get back to normal sooner rather than later.

Sammy Nestico recorded wagon wheels during his time with 'the Note' used to be able to hear it on a site that had all of the note recording s on it, not sure of the year but of course Sammy did tour with the TDO and play Tommy's book when TD was off the road because of illness........
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Re: Ideas on what next to take on

Post by AndrewMeronek » Wed May 13, 2020 8:47 am

If you can track down permissions to distribute, I think there is a huge dearth of well-written vocal charts for popular post-swing tunes. Most of them are "educational" and feature such annoying practices as giving horns no breaks, way too much unison, and extreme repetition. Think Little Richard (who just died), Johnny Cash, etc.

I also think that rap and big band can be a beautiful marriage if you can find a rapper who's willing to put in the work.
“All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.”

- Thelonious Monk
Gary
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Re: Ideas on what next to take on

Post by Gary » Wed May 13, 2020 9:41 am

Digidog, I know what meta-writing is in a prose-writing context (although I'm not sure I understand it completely) but I don't understand how the term applies to composition. Can you point me in the direction of a source that may make this more evident? Thanks.
Digidog
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Re: Ideas on what next to take on

Post by Digidog » Thu May 14, 2020 4:57 am

Gary wrote:
Wed May 13, 2020 9:41 am
Digidog, I know what meta-writing is in a prose-writing context (although I'm not sure I understand it completely) but I don't understand how the term applies to composition. Can you point me in the direction of a source that may make this more evident? Thanks.
At least to me, there are several processes involved in the creation of anything; how many of those that are meaningful to identify, analyze, include and work through is a matter of personal choice and what the result is intended to be for the creator and the consumer. This is very much prevalent in the marketing of consumer goods, in identifying customer groups, points of best value and where and when to sell what.

When I compose music, I think it's sometimes useful to think in a bigger frame than just the musical, to identify what I want the final writing to be. Some basic examples are: If I decide to arrange a pop song, what are my underlying reasons for doing that? If I make a composition based on a poem of John Donne, what would I think are the motives, overarching ideas and ultimate expressions that I want to find in the final song to be? This is, to me and as far as I comprehend the expression, my processes of "meta-writing".

The practical outcome of this, is that I with some pieces write a back story - either physically or mentally, either real or made up - of the piece, or that I think of a planned arrangement as a color in a palette of other arrangements in other colors where I try to aesthetically and/or literally explain the correlations between the represented colors of the arrangements and their positions in my color scheme. Sometimes I write music out of a percieved flow of emotions, where I - if anyone would ever ask - can explain how, and why some pieces I've produced emotionally relate to each other.

To most people who play my music, all these motives and correlations are irrelevant and of both no use and no interest, but to me they make it interesting to create - anything. This doesn't necessarily mean that I have a clear, articulated and finished motive for everything I write, but if I feel it's hard to get going with something this thinking is a great tool. So far I've never encountered writers blocking, or sensed any wanting of ideas; I know that if I relax and put my synthetizising thinking to use - sooner or later I will come up with ideas as well as practical solutions.

With practical solutions, I mean that if I f.ex. come up with a made up story for a composition, that, in its turn, produces following practical ideas on how to express that story in the score. With f.ex. my arrangement of "People Get Ready", I pictured a fashionable, busy café filled with conceited people, immersed in their own importance and businesses sitting on maybe a short office lunch talking to each other, but not with each other, when the voice of Mayfield's lyrics comes in as a commentator to this scene (like a David Attenborough) to point out the underlying defecits of this style of life and socialisation, and suddenly I came up with the idea of making the instruments produce that conceited, pointless, self-important chatter. Nobody who would ever play this arrangement, would most certainly not care at all for this picture and this underlying setting, but to me this is a strong motivator to both create, and to produce a meaning for me that I hope other people can sense and, consciously or not, put to some and any use.

In the end, I don't care if other people percieve anything from my music but if anyone asks, I can for the most cases explain why I have written anything particular, and why I have made particular solutions in the score and in the parts. The only wish I have with my music, is that my careful underpinning of it can make others feel that they can put in their own meaning into it - regardless of if that correlates with my original backgrounds or not.
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Gary
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Re: Ideas on what next to take on

Post by Gary » Thu May 14, 2020 7:45 am

Thanks for the detailed explanation, Daniel. I guess I'm just having a problem with semantics. I don't see how what you explained is any different than it has always been for a lot of composers and what, then, makes that any different than business as usual vs. a category named "meta-writing". I don't see a difference. Whatever, LOL.
Digidog
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Re: Ideas on what next to take on

Post by Digidog » Fri May 15, 2020 2:23 am

Gary wrote:
Thu May 14, 2020 7:45 am
Thanks for the detailed explanation, Daniel. I guess I'm just having a problem with semantics. I don't see how what you explained is any different than it has always been for a lot of composers and what, then, makes that any different than business as usual vs. a category named "meta-writing". I don't see a difference. Whatever, LOL.
I wouldn't say it is semantics as much as it is an approach and a method. Of course the Greek word "meta" can mean "beyond" or "behind", but to apply the word "meta" to a creative process is to me a prefix for conscious, active, methodic and purposeful work with the underlying factors of the final created piece.

The big difference, to me, between meta-work and just creative work, is the level of consciousness and how methodical the approach and the work actually is behind the main creation. A creator that pays no attention to this and just creates out of inspiration, can be said to not be working with any meta processes. There may be meta-work behind, though nothing that this person can articulate, or may be completely unaware of, nor actively work with.

My experience is that people with much inspiration and weak meta processes behind their creative work, sooner or later run into creative stalls; they empty their founding inspiration and lack the processes of maintaining the main work process without it until inspiration returns. Another observation I've made, is that many creators try to substitute a lack of meta processes with drugs, externalised emotional behaviour and/or extreme emotional behaviour, to (maybe unconsciously) achieve underlying work for their main creative processes. These ways of substituting meta work are very wearing, both mentally and physically, to the person (I know because I've been balancing on that very edge, myself) and I believe that this is one significant factor in why so many great creators have lived self consuming lives and, as a consequence, died young.
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Gary
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Re: Ideas on what next to take on

Post by Gary » Fri May 15, 2020 11:10 am

Thanks for trying to help me along, Daniel; for taking the time to give such a detailed response. I really appreciate it.

I don't know. For me the creative process is just having a goal, (musical or extra-musical) and defining your parameters, (form, orchestration, harmonic/melodic materials, etc.), and off you go.
Digidog
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Re: Ideas on what next to take on

Post by Digidog » Thu Jun 18, 2020 5:58 am

BGuttman wrote:
Fri May 08, 2020 7:49 am
I like a nice ballad to play (I'll have to fight with Baileyman who also plays with me). A nice piece a la Fontana or Noel would be just the ticket. Maybe you can make both of us happy with a duet.
Your post gave me some ideas about arranging for two trombones in a feature, something I've not done before. I'm currently laying out drafts for arranging "But Beautiful" for two trombones and big band - as that "buckle polisher" you mentioned. I'm also doing some reharmonizing, to make it more tromboneable - so to speak.
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BGuttman
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Re: Ideas on what next to take on

Post by BGuttman » Thu Jun 18, 2020 9:12 am

Digidog wrote:
Thu Jun 18, 2020 5:58 am
BGuttman wrote:
Fri May 08, 2020 7:49 am
I like a nice ballad to play (I'll have to fight with Baileyman who also plays with me). A nice piece a la Fontana or Noel would be just the ticket. Maybe you can make both of us happy with a duet.
Your post gave me some ideas about arranging for two trombones in a feature, something I've not done before. I'm currently laying out drafts for arranging "But Beautiful" for two trombones and big band - as that "buckle polisher" you mentioned. I'm also doing some reharmonizing, to make it more tromboneable - so to speak.
This sounds really promising. Unfortunately the band Baileyman and I play in is temporarily suspended due to COVID-19 -- we play at a Senior Center and they will be among the last to reintegrate -- but I will definitely look at what you do create.
Bruce Guttman
Merrimack Valley Philharmonic Orchestra
"Almost Professional"
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