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How Would You Write This Bend?

Veggie Dave

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I'm putting the finishing touches to a horn arrangement before it's sent to players I probably won't be able to talk to if they have any questions so I need to make the sheets as fool-proof as possible.

I have a bend I need to write but I'm not sure how to do it so that it's obviously a bend rather than a slur.

This is the bend:

And this is the basic notation without a bend:
bend.jpg


Any help gratefully received. :D
 

rhysonsax

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My choice would be a sort of half-round U-shape (I forget what the real name is) above the place where the bend occurs. It sort of shows what happens and where.

Rhys
 

Pete Thomas

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I'd prefer the 2nd one, looks more conventional but I can see how the first one works quite well. The important thing is to make it clear which beat the bend comes back to pitch on. The audio sample wasn't clear on that as there was no tempo/beat.

The notation in the first post shows a value of 5 full beats, so roughly working out from the mp3 it actually returns before beat 2, but to me it would seem more natural to return actually right on a beat rather than anticipating it.
 

Veggie Dave

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Being specific in the score is what I'm struggling with. The bend returns on the third beat of a triplet, which makes sense in the context of the song as it repeats a rhythmic theme.

I really like thomsax's idea but I couldn't work out how to do that in Sibelius. I've ended up using mizmar's idea by modifying a slur but it's not really that rhythmically specific. The other horn players will have an MP3 to practice to but in the past I've had some players see a score, think 'I can play that with my eyes shut' and turned up playing like they're an emotionless quantised VST having clearly not bothered with the MP3 at all.

I'm trying to anticipate this issue as much as I can, particularly because I'll probably not have the opportunity to talk to them before they record their part.
 

Pete Effamy

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The other horn players will have an MP3 to practice to but in the past I've had some players see a score, think 'I can play that with my eyes shut' and turned up playing like they're an emotionless quantised VST having clearly not bothered with the MP3 at all.
I'm 50/50 on finding a way to notate this. It's something that would be discussed by a horn section before playing, just like fall-offs - which can be tight to the note and fast or delayed. A "start on beat 3 and out by beat 2 next bar" sorta thing might be arrived at for really long notes that are written with a fall off.
Most horn parts are not difficult, so it really is all about style - and this is where the good players shine. Those that see a bunch of notes of maybe ABRSM grade 5 standard (or less - long notes, or "footballs") and think that they can switch off are not players that will shine in a horn section. In a standard section it will be trumpet lead, and inflections/nuance will be taken from them. Unless the section has split writing - like Tom Scott arranged Steely Dan sections often had - then the idea is to play as one. One player, with all that sound, like a hand on a keyboard. No scoops or lip slurs of your own, vibrato, articulation, sound, dynamics etc.
So I get why you want to nail it down in writing, but I wonder whether this will lead to even less listening and more auto pilot?
 

Pete Thomas

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I'm 50/50 on finding a way to notate this. It's something that would be discussed by a horn section before playing, just like fall-offs - which can be tight to the note and fast or delayed.
I agree, without rehearsal or other direction, even if the notation shows the timing (ie where the bend returns, it still doesn't show the depth of the bend. So a bunch of good sightreaders may still all play differently.

Of course the looseness you get from that may or may not be desirable.

As Pete mentions falloffs are similar. You may want them tight and together, however I'd venture to say that mostly part of their effective can be the very looseness (last note of Pink Panther Theme).

I've mostly seen falls written as a fall with no other instruction beyond long or short fall. When you get mixed intruments it's never going to be tight. If a saxophone player on an inside harmony part is playing low B, they will never be able to do anything other than a semitone or so. Trombone players are limited by their slide position and so on.

Same applies to a certain extent to bends. I can bend a top D down a whole tone , but a low E only a few cents.
 

Pete Effamy

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I agree, without rehearsal or other direction, even if the notation shows the timing (ie where the bend returns, it still doesn't show the depth of the bend. So a bunch of good sightreaders may still all play differently.

Of course the looseness you get from that may or may not be desirable.

As Pete mentions falloffs are similar. You may want them tight and together, however I'd venture to say that mostly part of their effective can be the very looseness (last note of Pink Panther Theme).

I've mostly seen falls written as a fall with no other instruction beyond long or short fall. When you get mixed intruments it's never going to be tight. If a saxophone player on an inside harmony part is playing low B, they will never be able to do anything other than a semitone or so. Trombone players are limited by their slide position and so on.

Same applies to a certain extent to bends. I can bend a top D down a whole tone , but a low E only a few cents.
Good points. A whole (big) band fall is going to have a lot of variety as while each instrument type will be written in a good range, some of them - tenor 2, tpt 2 for example - won’t be, hence what you say about the last chord of The P Panther. This stands alone though, as the tutti fall offs in the 2nd section (band chorus) of the tune is well attuned.
One possibly assumes that big effects in a horn section (ie pop sections of 4 or maybe 6 players) will only be written when all players are playing “in the meat of the horn”.
 

Jazzaferri

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Writing a bend into a multi horn part is not something that can be performed equally without lots of section rehearsal. Too many variables Even if you say when to start and when to stop.
 

Pete Effamy

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Actually I don’t fully agree, I’ve played with quite a few sections that can play exactly what was discussed. We might play it through once to try it, but if you have control of your horn you can play what is asked.
 

Pete Effamy

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A good horn section requires a certain type of player - one that really enjoys getting all the ensemble stuff right along with the other players. The arrangement might be very easy indeed, but there are so many details to match that I always found it exhilarating when the section played as one and really nailed it.
 

Jazzaferri

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@Pete Effamy I think your assessment is true too. My experience, limited as it is however, is that really good horn sections are not, at least in my part of the world, very common. In my area of about 550,000 people I know of 1
 

rhysonsax

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Thanks everyone. I'll just have to hope whoever ends up playing and recording the arrangement listens to the MP3.

If the horn players are recording separately, as I presume they will be, then what do they get in the way of an audio guide track to listen to as they record ?

If the horn section has a lead player who sets the style (that could be you), then can the lead record their part first and have that included in the mix for the guide track provided to the others in the horn section ? That would seem a lot better than relying on markings on a chart or on a robot / sampled sound that won't sound human.

Rhys
 
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Pete Effamy

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@Pete Effamy I think your assessment is true too. My experience, limited as it is however, is that really good horn sections are not, at least in my part of the world, very common. In my area of about 550,000 people I know of 1
It is an interesting topic. I forget that many players are bored in a section. I played a lot of classical chamber and orchestral music on clarinet at college and the horn section gives me what I miss from not playing that music any more.
There are many examples from the '80's in particular where some of the major horn sections were used in a rather 'subdued' way, yet the detail and precision of the playing is awesome. Same as when we listen to the greats playing a melody.

- So I'm thinking of some of the Seawind Horns/Jerry Hey stuff in the '80's where they pop up on 'simple' pop records. Also the Brecker Bros occasionally appeared on some very straight-forward pop records.
 

Veggie Dave

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If the horn players are recording separately, as I presume they will be,

They are indeed.

then what do they get in the way of an audio guide track to listen to as they record ?

They get an MP3 with everything they should theoretically need. The problem I've had since I started writing for others is that I've found good readers won't necessarily bother with the recording; their reading is good enough that they can easily sight-read the score so that's what they do.

I suppose it's not too dissimilar to an actor getting a script for something that's been filmed before who doesn't watch the original film.

I'm going to assume from my limited experience that this isn't exactly an unusual situation as I've seen so many event/wedding bands whose horn sections are, ironically, soulless because it appears that they're happy to just play what's written on the score that they spend the entire show staring at.
 
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