Scoring Technique

Peter Herbolzheimer

The Duke   

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This is Dave Brubeck's masterpiece, as recorded by the brilliant German arranger and bandleader Peter Herbolzheimer with his German Youth Orchestra, the BuJazzO. Here is a snippet from Peterís score, at the first entry of the melody.

In Example 1 three instruments play the melody the first time: clarinet, fluegelhorn and guitar. The soprano saxophone follows the melody line a third below, ending on the lower part of a tritone in bar 2. The scoring here is delicate.

On the repeat the descending melody line is augmented by an alto saxophone. Further down a second alto plays a small counterpoint in unison with a trombone. The writing is horizontal rather than vertical, sparing, low key. The result is plaintive, haunting, as is, indeed, the melody itself.

Example 1a shows the bare essentials of the first four bars as they are played the second time around. The reader should dissect the next four bars in a similar manner. Bar 7 is interesting.

Study this example. There is much to be learned from it.

The next part of the score at Example 2 is for brass alone, the saxes only entering in Bar 16 and 17. Here the baritone doubles the bass trombone, tenor doubles Trumpet I, and two altos double Trumpets 2 and 3 respectively.

Throughout this passage the bass is descending, while the melody line rises and falls. Note that the trumpets are voiced throughout in plain triads, except for the dissonances in bars 13 and 15. Polychords have been used extensively here, so that the symbols represent the triads used. In bar 10 the symbol G/F denotes a G triad over an F triad; G/E a G triad over an E triad, and so on. These chords could also be represented as complex chords, but the symbols show more clearly what is happening. In the actual score only bass and drums accompany the brass, with the bass closely following the bass trombone.

In bar 13 the chord marked F7/4 could be one of several others: a Bbm7/4, or a chord built in fourths on the F bass note. This is the kind of minorĖsounding chord that William Russo sometimes wrote, with a filler tone (the Db) to give it a kick. As the descending bass line comes to a full close there Iím naming it an F7/4 type chord, and pure academics can take it from there.

From bar I4 onwards Peter uses conventional chords. The second chord in bar I4 has the raised 11th in a place where one might not expect to find it. This was dictated by the ever-descending lower triad.

The Bbm11 in bar I5 is a chord built upwards from the bass note in fourths. This kind of chord is extremely resonant, and is especially to be recommended when writing for strings.

The reader can have fun working out the chords of the last two bars, which end on another polychord (Eb/Db). The whole passage is quiet and sonorous, with a natural crescendo in the final bars.

The short release in Example 3 follows on a repeat of the eight bar theme I showed you in part one of this small series. What Peter has written here looks absurdly simple. A few triads on woodwind and trumpets, followed by another set of triads played by the trombones, and so on.

The triads in the first two bars are easy enough to recognise, a couple of A minors moving to a Dm7(b5), and ending on an Fm(maj7). Itís what the baritone is doing there that makes bars 26 and 27 something special. What heís actually doing is performing a chromatic run from the root of the A minor chord up to the root of the DM7(b5). This run up is powerfully supported by the string bass. The result has a Gil Evanish flavour to it.

In bars 28 and 29 the trombones are doubled by the guitar, a descending Em scale which you can play on the piano with locked fingers.

Now that tiny theme again, with the woodwind chords doubled this time on the piano. The bass following the bass instrument lines exactly. Once again the baritone is off on his own, contracting the chord flow up to the D7(b9).

The peace is shattered finally when the open brass enter with a bang in bar 32. Notice that they are still playing triads: even the trombones manage to do that in a very clever way.

The last chord could use some study.

Itís an A7 with a flat ninth. Note the raised fifth rubbing elbows with the thirteenth in there. Itís a chord which leaves nothing to be desired. Donít forget that chords of this calibre rarely sound any good on an acoustic piano; if you want to test it you need an organ or synthesizer, unless you have your own band waiting in the wings.

The dissonance between the clarinet and soprano saxophone in bar 27 is something that has to be handled with care by the arranger. If only one of the notes involved sticks out too much the whole character of the chord can be altered. Here it is fairly safe as the trumpets are doubling the dissonance, but if you write something like this for an amateur band, make sure that such notes are in what Bill Russo used to call the grateful range of the instruments.

Looking again at the melody line, the passage certainly appears to be almost mundane. The way Peter has handled the scoring is masterly.

Score: Copyright © 1994 Peter Herbolzheimer. All Rights Reserved
This article: Copyright © 2003 Jazz Professional. All Rights Reserved