by Vince Corozine (ASCAP)
This is the fourth in a series of six videos that will take you through the creative process as I compose a jazz waltz, SUPERNOVA, for the Michigan All-State Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Max Colley, Jr….the band director at Northview High School in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
In the previous video we took the main theme, as played by unison trombones, and developed it 17 different ways. This helps me to see if any of these developed themes can be used in the jazz composition. The use of variations of the main theme elsewhere in the arrangement provides the arrangement with unity, cohesiveness, and a sense of balance.
This segment will deal with how to approach the scoring of a jazz arrangement.
Here is a detailed outline of SUPERNOVA
I wanted to incorporate three musical lines moving at different speeds
a. Trombones in unison…medium speed
b. Sax unison background line….fast speed
c. Trumpets in harmon mutes…slow speed, used for added color
When three lines are presented one at a time, the tension builds as the rhythm section continues to swing.
Let’s listen to each line as it is added and listen for the increase in tension.
Main Theme Trombone Unison
Main Theme with Sax Counterpoint
Notice how the counterpoint in the saxes moves at a faster speed as compared with the movement of the slower-moving theme in the trombones. This variation in movement ensures clarity of the musical lines.
The theme starts in the trombones followed by a counterpoint (8th notes) in the saxes. The addition of a line superimposed above another line adds tension and provides interest in the musical texture.
Main Theme with Sax Counterpoint and Trumpets in Harmon Mutes
Observe how the trumpets, playing in Harmon mutes, add a diffused “sheen” of impressionistic color above the other unison musical lines.
The result is the addition of superimposed musical lines. Many composers use the compositional technique of “terraced dynamics” where additional instruments are added resulting in an increase in volume.
Observe that the muted trumpets don’t actually play a recognizable musical line, but add an impressionistic daub of color to the overall texture of sound.
Next is an interlude that leads to the full ensemble kick-off for the soloist. Listen for the poly-rhythmic effect between the horns and rhythm.
The FORM for SUPERNOVA
1. Slow introduction using the 8th notes that the saxes used behind the main theme…..this leads to the faster section played by a two-chord ostinato pedal point in the rhythm section.
2. A trombone theme, followed by counterpoint in the saxes, followed by trumpets in harmon mutes, build in tension leading to the interlude (just heard) that leads to the full ensemble ushering in the soloist.
3. The result is a trumpet or trombone solo backed by comping in the rhythm section and sax lines. It is vital to have the background lines played by a color other than that of the solo. Throughout most of the solo the saxes carry the “lion’s” share of the work.
4. Interlude 2 is shown next; Notice that the second syncopated theme is used in imitation. The themes are layered to build tension and provide an increase in volume. This exciting section leads to a saxophone solo.
5. In the next example, notice that the saxes play an ascending unison-octave line, against full-sounding chords in the brass. The brass play an inactive line harmonized. This is a technique I often use in my writing. I feel that it adds elasticity and suppleness, resulting in greater lightness and energy within the ensemble.
Variation of Main Theme
In the next example, notice that the saxes play an ascending unison-octave line, against full-sounding chords in the brass. The brass play an inactive line harmonized. This is a technique I often use in my writing. I feel that it adds elasticity and suppleness, resulting in greater lightness and energy within the ensemble.
Notice the use of contrary motion in the trombones and baritone sax.
6. I felt that the arrangement required a change of sound and feel, so I dropped out the rhythm section for 16 measures. This provides a breath of fresh air where the persistent rhythm section takes a break and lets the horns quietly converse.
7. The ostinato pedal-point returns in the rhythm section, as the trombones pick up the same rhythm five bars later in another key. This tension leads to a modulation up a minor third from Am to Cm.
Leading to Modulation up Minor 3rd
8. The pedal point, interlude theme, with moving 8th notes in the saxes, combine in imitation (in C minor) to recapitulate the beginning.
9. The ostinato pedal-point and interlude theme merge in a stretto, where all the themes are interlocked together in close proximity to create tension previous to the climax.
10. Next, the full ensemble “wails” at a double forte, while a sax unison line “bites” through the ensemble.
11. The rhythmic ostinato continues, with moving eighth notes in the saxes, along with counterpoint in the trombones and trumpets.
12. The ending brings forth a three measure drum solo which builds to a roaring climax. The last five measures are slower at a maximum volume level of triple forte.
In the next video I will discuss my approach to voicing the different chords and instrument sections for SUPERNOVA.