Addin’ Down for Big Band and Pros and Cons of Music Software

One of the reasons I’ve been quiet here lately is because I’ve been spending a lot of time composing a new big band chart, called Addin’ Down.  Here is a MIDI realization of it.

[audio:https://www.wilktone.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/Addin-Down.mp3|titles=Addin’ Down]

In case anyone is curious, I use Finale 2010 to do my arranging and copy work, and the playback is also done in Finale, with a little help from an old version of Band-in-a-Box to create some of the rhythm section parts and improvised solos.  It’s sort of stiff sounding because of this, and I never bothered to get the drum playback to play more like the street beat feel I want on this one.

Of course, you have to use your imagination when listening to a computer play back your composition anyway.  It’s tempting to feel that just because somethings sounds cool on the computer that live musicians playing it are going to sound like it does on the computer. The opposite is also true, sometimes it’s easy to get frustrated and waste your time trying to get the computer playback to sound more natural.  When composing I try to strike a balance, but ultimately I’m writing for acoustic musicians, not a computer.  I frequently make minor (or sometimes even major) corrections to a piece of music after I hear it played by live musicians.

The use of the computer to playback your composition is a frequent topic that comes up with my composition students.  I think one of the most important things any acoustic composer should do is get at least a read through, if not a performance, of every composition they write.  The feedback of live musicians about things like idiomatic writing for particular instruments and how to lay out their parts is essential for becoming a better composer.

I’ve still got to complete all the copy work before I can get a read through of this new chart.  Although I will probably continue to tweak a few things here and there as I take a close look at individual parts, the composing part of it is essentially complete.  If I manage to get the parts printed out before tomorrow night I should be able to get the Asheville Jazz Orchestra to read it down once.

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