4 Horn Combo Analysis: Isn’t It Romantic

Over the last few years I’ve done a number of charts for 3 and 4 horns. Doing charts for smaller groups will undoubtedly make you a better writer for large groups too. Because you have less of everything to work with, it is always a challenge to make a small group chart sound good and be fun to play for each player.

The following video tutorial covers some concepts that will invariably come up when you sit down to arrange for 3 or 4 horns. These are some of the main concepts covered in this lesson.

1) Any tune can be converted to numerous styles. Swing tunes can often be converted and arranged into latin, bossa tunes, rock, funk, etc. tunes. Ballads can sometimes be converted to medium swing tunes or vice versa. Use your judgement but don’t be afraid to change the style of a tune in your arrangement.

2) Introductions are most often not irregular in length – but they sometimes come out irregular as you will see in this arrangement.

3) The key you choose for your arrangement will depend on the type of group you are arranging for. Because smaller groups do not span the range of a large group like big band, your key choice is very important to how the arrangement could ultimately sound.

4) Written piano and bass parts that align with the horn ensemble can really help make a chart sound more cohesive, especially if you have inexperienced rhythm players. I don’t recommend writing everything for every rhythm player, but ensemble parts will be helped by having parts written that coincide with what the horn players are playing.

5) Always look for ways to make moving, step-wise lines connect with what may be a large leap. With some practice, you will find ways to improve individual parts by adding stepwise motion that connects important notes of successive chords (i.e. vertically)

Let me know if you have any questions. If you would like to purchase this chart for further study, use the paypal button below.

NOTE: The video is best viewed in full screen mode. Click the square button on the lower right portion of the video player to open to full screen mode.


Full Screen

3 Replies to “4 Horn Combo Analysis: Isn’t It Romantic”

  1. Shane Kershaw

    about 9 mins the video gets out of sync with the audio by about 4 bars – making it difficult ot follow the chart (i.e. the vision is 4 bars behind the actual playback of the chart)

    In terms of actual content to that point, loving the presentation of solid ideas I had forgotten about in preparing small group charts (of big band charts for that matter).

  2. Jim Martin

    Shane, that’s weird. It could be because many people were watching it at the same time, just a bandwidth thing. I noticed the site a little slow. I sent the email to over 2000 class members so that could be the issue.

  3. Jim Martin

    Shane, I checked it out and you are right. Not sure what happened there, but could have just been my computer having lots of stuff open and pushing my comp to the limit when I recorded the video. Sorry about that everyone!

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