‘Concert Band Plus’ and ‘Brass Ensemble Plus’ Arrangements from ClassTracks Music
Harry Ledger has had many years of experience writing and arranging music professionally for Wind Bands, Brass Ensembles and Jazz Ensembles and this has ultimately led to the creation of ‘Concert Band Plus’ and ‘Brass Ensemble Plus’ arrangements. These arrangements are written with the intention to overcome problems related to players not always being available to cover some of the parts. These arrangements also include parts for several instruments not normally found in the standard instrumentation of those Ensembles.
The first of these is the Piano. Parts for the Piano shadow the arrangements and provide a reinforcing effect which is not only useful for rehearsal but generally enhances the arrangements as well as providing an additional instrument which can help all genres of music. Jazz flavoured pieces and pieces from the Baroque period in particular benefit considerably from the addition of a Piano.
The second added part is for Recorder. Many, if not most schools and colleges have a number of recorder players and some of them can often play to a high standard, yet they are nearly always
restricted to playing either solo or in a recorder ensemble. Recorders are not included in a wind band score but they are wind instruments! In ‘Concert Band Plus’ arrangements there is always a part for Recorder.
The third added part is to cover the Bass line. ‘Going back to when I (HL) was starting out as a musician in the Guards we included a String Bass player with our Concert Band. (The correct name for the band was ‘Military Band’ although this term has over time changed to ‘Wind Band’) This was a clever idea and it was an effective addition to the standard arrangements. Schools, Colleges and Music Centres can, from time to time find themselves without a bass. The bass instrument in a Wind Band or a Brass Ensemble obviously is a Bass Tuba but sometimes there may not be a player available. (Our ‘Military Band’ always had two E-Flat and two B-Flat bass players) Any ensemble must have a Bass instrument to provide this vitally important foundation part. ‘Concert Band Plus’ and ‘Brass Ensemble Plus’ arrangements include additional parts for String Bass – Keyboard Bass (which should be set to an appropriate sound) and Bass Guitar in addition to Bass Tuba in order to be able to always provide a Bass part for all arrangements, whatever the genre of music being played.
All arrangements for ‘Wind Band Plus’ and ‘Brass Ensemble Plus’ include three optional percussion parts. Drum Kit – Auxilliary percussion (Shakers/Tambourine/Triangle/ Cowbell/Bongos/Congas etc) and a part for Tuned percussion – Glock. and/or Xylophone. A Vibraphone part is sometimes included with Jazz arrangements but these parts are always optional.
Parts for almost all other wind instruments are included with ‘Concert Band Plus’ arrangements and they add to the basic ‘Core Arrangement’ which is designed for the most usually available instruments that will allow the arrangement to work effectively.
‘Duets for all Instruments’ from ClassTracks Music
Instrumental Duets can obviously be written for all instruments but we have had a long held view that this can also be applied to ‘same family adjacent pitch’ instruments in order to be more inclusive. ie; Trumpet/Cornet with French Horn – French Horn with Trombone – Violin with Viola, Alto Saxophone with Tenor Saxophone etc.etc.
This idea is used with many different instrument pairings in our four duet books and has proved very popular and successful since the first publication of ‘Swing Jazz Duets’ in 1999. (This book was well received in a review by Music Teacher magazine.)
Duets for Bass instruments are not widely available and can involve extremes of register with the higher parts which can also make the music very difficult to play or have a ‘muddy’ sound.
This inevitably results in the fact that bass instrument players are usually excluded from duet playing. ‘Duets for all Instruments’ from ClassTracks Music addresses this problem by pairing the Bass Tuba with Trombone or Euphonium and the Double Bass with the Cello. One effective way to make this system work is to give the higher, melody part to the lower bass instrument (Bass Tuba or Double Bass) and the lower part, written 8ve from the normal pitch for the higher instrument – (Trombone/ Euphonium or Cello) This is quite musically acceptable. This system will sometimes depend on both duet parts being able to stand alone melodically, an important criteria when writing duets.
All of these ideas are used in all of our four duet books –
Swing Jazz Duets (33 editions)
14 Contemporary Duets (34 editions)
60 Easy Duets of Famous Songs and Tunes from Around the World (31 editions)
14 Christmas Duets (29 editions)