hey guys, hopefully i'll be starting a ska band this summer that will include two horns, a trombone and a trumpet. anyone have any tips on arranging for them? i suppose they could play in unison, octaves, and/or thirds, and also the trombone can double the bassline while the trumpet solos. oh and they can play upbeats in thirds with the guitar. all of these are standard ska horn arrangements, but does anyone do anything else with their horn sections? what are the names of some of those dynamic instructions for horns, like when they play a staccato note, drop to piano, and swell to forte?

disclaimer: yes, i know they're in different keys, no i don't know a sax player or any more trumpeters.

its called a forte piano or fp where they hit the note hard then drop down and swell back up to a forte
I really like it when the horns drive the melody. RX Bandits do that alot. So do many other ska bands. When you get this thing going I want to hear it. I really haven't heard horns do much of just playing on the upbeats with the guitar. I usually hear them take over the melody all together or just follow bass lines and layer into chords, more drawn out though. Maybe I'm just not listening to the same songs as you though

Oh, dynamic instruction for horns is the same for everything. If you know them then you got it down. I'd say if you have horn players they are going to know a bit more about reading music and musical instructions along with using theory than the average guitarist so they will probably know what to do. If it is you solely writing and arranging the songs you may want to look up certain things you want to explain to them or just explain in lamen's terms and maybe they will teach you one of those spiffy Italian phrases.
Last edited by myvaliantleap at Jun 10, 2006,
awesome dude ill be glad to help you but i don't know anything about horns :-( i know i suck im sorry...good luck with the band
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A trumpet player myself, just make sure that what you have the horns play is in there range. Usually most trumpet players are comfortable within the staff, but if you start going way above it things can start to get ugly. Thats just my advice for you if you are writing a part for an instrumetn you dont play.

Sorry if this doesn't answer your question exactly.
Like myvalientleap said, I would expect the horns to be more melodic than just playing on upbeats. And like take it t said, since your horns probably won't be the most experienced guys, try to stay within their range.
Quote by SilentDeftone
The accent you're describing is sforzato, abbreviated with sfz.

http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9003473 if you want to check.


ah i thought it was something like that i just didnt know the spelling. yeah, i imagine the horn players will already know a lot of those dynamic techniques and help me arrange. good point about the ranges. my composition teacher (i'm not a music major, i just took the class) says trumpets can go from the first Bb below the staff to the first C above it, and trombone goes from E below the bass clef to E above it (though he might have meant Eb as trombone is in Eb). yeah and as for the horns playing the upbeats i only heard it like once or twice, but it's useful if you're just playing a verse and you want it to be quieter than a chorus or something.
Slightly off topic, but the trombone player in my teacher's band knows a little trick. He plays one note, then sings a fifth higher while playing. Somehow, with these two notes, I guess the overtones also form a third and another root and he ends up making a chord. I don't know exactly why it works, its pretty cool though.
Quote by SilentDeftone
Good trombone players will have a slightly higher range than that, and if they have a trigger then they'll be able to play a bit lower as well.


hehe this guy's still in highschool and is apparently last chair in the trombone section, so i better not push him too hard...
Hmm I used to have at least a high Bb down, if I remember correctly (by which I mean above the staff). And my upper range wasn't that great either.

The F should be a given, though.
Keep in mind that horns are in different keys, most saxes are in Eb, and most trumpets are in Bb, meaning that your C is their Bb (*cough.. I think*). So be sure to transpose when you write for them.

Edit: Sorry, I didnt see your disclaimer... =/
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Last edited by Garou at Jun 11, 2006,
Keep in mind that horns are in different keys, most trumpets are in Bb, and most saxes are in Eb, meaning that your C is their Bb (*cough.. I think*). So be sure to transpose when you write for them.

Soprano sax = Bb
Alto sax = Eb
Tenor sax = Bb
Bari Sax = Eb.
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