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#2633858 - 10/16/14 08:30 AM Instrument ranges
cedar Offline
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Registered: 10/04/14
Posts: 768
Loc: New York
Not sure if this is the proper forum for this questio.... but

I have started to write relatively simple arrangements for jazz combos. Instrumentation includes: alto sax, tenor sax, baritone sax, soprano sax, trumpet, trombone, piano and upright bass.i

But I realize that I am not sure of the ranges of the horns or where in the staff their parts usually appear (e.g., mostly above, below or within the staff).

Can someone point me to any guidelines about transcribing and arranging for those instruments?

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#2634007 - 10/17/14 03:51 AM Re: Instrument ranges [Re: cedar]
Joe Muscara Offline
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Registered: 02/21/05
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My piano teacher (who has also done a ton of arranging) gave that info to me at a lesson. I'm not sure how I would pass it on to you, I have it written on a staff.

I have found similar info in Chuck Israels' book, which is referenced at these forums and may also be included there somewhere. If not, info about the book is there and you should be able to find the book and buy it.

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#2636646 - 10/29/14 01:46 PM Re: Instrument ranges [Re: cedar]
Eric VB Offline
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Registered: 02/02/05
Posts: 5789
There's a Wiki.

Don't forget that not all instruments are scored in concert pitch!

Fortunately, trombone is. I used to play a tenor slide trombone. Although it can play a pedal Bb1 (more for effect), the usable range starts with E2 (as noted on the Wiki chart). However, I probably wouldn't ask a slide trombonist to play an E2 as this requires 7th position which is not often used and can therefore be awkward. (This is not an issue for trombones with triggers/valves.) In any case I'd say it's safer to start with F2 for trombone.

The high end varies with the player. In high school the goal was to hit "high Bb", or Bb4, although I don't recall any music scored that high. I don't know if college/pro music is scored higher than that. I do know I could hit at least F5 back then, if not higher. (That looks to be the high end of the Wiki chart.)

Obviously if you have more than one trombone the 1st part will be pitched higher in general than the 2nd, 2nd higher than 3rd and 3rd higher than 4th. (Same for trumpet.)

Speaking of trumpets, they are a transposing instrument. A Bb trumpet calls a concert Bb a "C" and it is written as such. I find it a bit silly. Bb baritone and BBb tuba use the same 3-valve system and all three instruments use the the same fingerings for a concert Bb scale (0, 13, 12, 1, 0, 12, 2, 0). It's just that the trumpet player learned that he's playing a "C" scale, so he's reading and thinking C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C when the actual pitches being sounded are Bb-C-D-Eb-F-G-A-Bb.

Bass is a transposing instrument, too; all pitches are sounded an octave below what is written. This way you don't have to use all those ledger lines as you would for tuba. This is potentially one reason why it's easier for bass players to read the chord symbols on scores arranged for piano/guitar/voice than the actual left-hand piano on the bass clef. (I played tuba, too, so I'm good with either.)

As far as saxes go all I know is the high school swing band used two altos, two tenors and one bari. One of the altos would occasionally play soprano or clarinet instead, maybe just for a solo. So I (perhaps wrongly) equate soprano to piccolo; it's not essential and not scored for every piece.

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#2636755 - 10/30/14 04:05 AM Re: Instrument ranges [Re: Eric VB]
Joe Muscara Offline
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Saxes and clarinet are transposing as well. Tenor and soprano sax are in Bb, with tenor an octave lower than soprano, alto and bari are in Eb, with bari an octave lower. IOW, both "octave lower" instruments are written an octave higher than they sound.

Clarinet, soprano sax, and Bb trumpet all sound a major 2nd lower than they are written.

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#2773486 - 04/17/16 03:38 PM Re: Instrument ranges [Re: cedar]
Alan-Russell Offline
Member

Registered: 04/16/16
Posts: 4
Loc: Florida
Listen to my big band scores on youtube with my tyros 5...google. Alan Russell Tyros 5 Arrangement....you might pick up a few tips regarding range.

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