Student Critique: Big Band – Miss Jones (Page 1)

One of the best arranging classes I ever had in college was one whereby students passed around their scores to everyone in the class. As each score was critiqued by the instructor, you had the opportunity to learn from everyone else’s mistakes. I thought this was great because I knew that learning this way would definitely speed up the arranging “learning curve”, simply because I could learn from ALOT of mistakes at once – at I didn’t necessarily have to make them myself.

With that in mind, this video is a critique of the first 8 measures of a big band arrangement done by a student of this site.

For best results, download and print the 3 pages of supplementary material here FIRST, so you can follow along with what I’m saying during the video.

By the way, I will fix the clarity of the next video so you can see the music better.

Download and print these pages (PDF) that accompany the video

5 thoughts on “Student Critique: Big Band – Miss Jones (Page 1)”

  1. Nice job, Jim. Good critique and suggestions. I would find it to be helpful to hear you play (or have played) the original harmonies as arranged and then your harmonic suggestions, while listening to your comments. I know you had some tech issues with the computer and keyboard this time; perhaps once this is rolling, we could submit an mp3 of the pieces we are working on along with a PDF of the score, and possibly present the arrangement in a format of “compressed” score (like your sample voicing page) so you could play it at the keyboard, simply. I’m just tossing out ideas here, but I find it much easier to look at the draft version of arrangements and get a sense of the harmonies than to look at the finished score (even in concert). I also recommend that we keep the score in concert as you did in the example; I still have a hard time doing the transpositions in my head when trying to figure out the voicing, and for me, these types of lessons are primarily about getting the gist of the harmonic flow. I like the idea of looking at isolated sections of the score and seeing how that relates further on, as I think one of the goals in arranging is to set and keep a “harmonic theme” running throughout the entire piece; a signature sound. I think dealing with small “chunks” is quite beneficial; otherwise, I am overwhelmed with information. These are just my thoughts, not criticisms; I am very excited that you are moving in this direction with the site, and I am very grateful to Austin Chanu for stepping up and being the first one into the “Critique Mill”; Good on ya, Austin!

  2. Hey Jim,
    Thanks again for starting to critique my chart! I am so glad that I can get help from a professional! Oh, I wanted to let you know I never really gave you info about me. I am a junior in highschool, so I haven’t a lot of experience with writing much. I am really excited for you to start critiquing the other sections of my chart! Oh, and Dave, thanks also!
    Thanks again,

  3. Very good stuff
    Good on you Austin!
    David’s ideas sound really good too
    i was actually thinking the same: we could send an mp3 file along with the score in pdf format
    keep up the good work

  4. Yeah… It will be a good improve for this lesson.

    Maybe an audio file generation by the notation software (Finale, Sibelius) so we can hear the first version…and then an audio file with the changes suggested by the professor.

    It would be great…
    By the way… excellent website..!!

  5. Erick: that suggestion would be very helpful in practice, however I would have to rewrite the chart to accomplish that, which would take more time than I have at the moment. Try to hear things in your head as best you can. I think sometimes we rely (me too) on Finale and Sibelius playback too much. I wouldn’t give it up, but it is important to not have to rely on hearing everything back immediately to make sure its right.

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