I always liked the 4 horn setup of trumpet, alto, tenor and trombone. Because there are four voices (as opposed to only three in a traditional combo), it is much easier to make each voicing sound nice and full. The extra instrument really makes a difference when dealing with more complex dominant chords.
This lesson shows how I took the O Christmas Tree leadsheet and voiced it out for 4 horn players. This is obviously not a complete chart, but hopefully you’ll get a good idea of how to take a tune that has been reharmonized and voice it out for a small group of horn players.
Feel free to take what I’ve written as a guide for your on combo arrangement. You’ll need an intro, and maybe an ensemble section, and solos and backgrounds of course. Be sure to download the condensed “score” to print before you watch the lesson. If you have any questions, let me know in the comments.
Some Key Points:
- Choose a key that is comfortable for players, especially lead player
- Voice leading is of paramount importance at all times
- Bass notes should reflect what is happening in horns
- Repeating sections of AABA form need alternate voicings, chords, etc.