Emily Critique – Brass Quintet Arrangement

This is the first video lesson of many to follow that covers a brass quintet arrangement of the jazz standard Emily.   Brass quintet instrumentation is 2 trumpets, 1 horn, trombone, and tuba.

This arrangement was done by a long time class member in Belgium.  The lesson focuses on just the first 16 bars of the arrangement, an 8-bar intro followed by the first 8 bars of the tune.


Download original (PDF)

Download revision (PDF)

Listen to Original


Points covered in this lesson are listed below.

1) Key choice is extremely important. This arrangement would probably lay better in the key of Eb rather than G.  The revision will stay in G however.

2) Trumpet line in beginning is weak, no need for all instruments to be playing all the time, especially from 1st measure on.

3) Watch span between instruments, especially between 1st and 2nd trumpet.

4) Brass players need to breathe and rest.  Arrange the music so there are natural breaths in the lines, rather than constant music with breath marks where applicable.

5) Add rhythm in tuba part to allow for breathing and also for more space in part.

6) Let moving lines outline harmonic choices wherever possible.

More video critique lessons on this arrangement are coming soon.  Let me know if you have any questions or comments.

7 Replies to “Emily Critique – Brass Quintet Arrangement”

  1. Hal

    Both versions have their strengths. I, too would have put it in Eb, but once I heard it, I liked the sonority of G… I like the maturity of yours, Jim, and you made some great observations. But there’s an unrestrained exuberance in some of the harmonies of the student’s, and I’m not sure if they’d come across the same in Eb. (Is there a transposition function in their software, just to hear it in both keys?) Great work in both!

  2. Anonymous

    Thanks for the comments Hal.
    There is a transposition function in Overture, but in Eb it wouldn’t sound the same at all. Some parts would have to be rewritten, and Jim should correct me if I’m wrong.
    I too like the sonority of G.
    On a different subject, Jim said I was from Belgium, when I’m actually from France, down south, on the French Riviera. Can’t trust those trombone players. 🙂

  3. Jim Martin

    Laurent, sorry about that location mistake! I could have sworn you were from Belgium. Yes, a straight transposition from G to Eb would screw everything up. The chart would have to be rethought and rearranged it the lower key. Key choice is one of the most important aspects of an arrangement in my opinion. Even a step or a 3rd difference in key can really make a difference in how the instruments are arranged. I think I did a lesson on tips for choosing keys for tunes. Go to the sitemap, I’m sure its there somewhere.

  4. Andrew Meronek

    Great critique. A thought comes to my mind that Jim’s version also has clearer dramatic motion, because he is starting smaller and grows both in pitch and in line motion by adding more instruments and more rhythm as that intro approaches that sus chord for the local climax.

    I’d also not be shy of using sharp accidentals in sharp keys when it simplifies the written content – I would replace the Bbs in those beginning trumpet lines with A#s, just because then there’s less likelihood of the player reading the B-natural on the downbeat of the next bar as a Bb. Transpositions aside, although the same thing can happen with the trumpet part written in A.

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