Brian Lewis - Jazz Arranging

Brian Lewis - Jazz Arranging digital download.

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Brian Lewis - Jazz Arranging

Type: Digital download

Brian Lewis - Jazz Arranging

Brian Lewis - Jazz Arranging

Whether breathing new life into a standard, or making a newly written tune truly unique, the jazz arranger’s vision influences every aspect of the listener’s experience. Jazz Arranging explores techniques that will allow you to write effective jazz arrangements for all types of instrumental combinations.

Throughout this music arrangement course, you will learn to write complete arrangements in a variety of formats and styles while addressing the melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic challenges faced by every jazz arranger. The course examines the techniques behind writing introductions, harmonizing melodies, working with rhythm sections, creating interludes, developing secondary and tertiary focus, and understanding instrument ranges. Through analysis and discussion of methods used by the finest arrangers in jazz, you will learn how to develop a compelling jazz arrangement and how to bring the arrangement to a successful conclusion. The course provides the foundation for constructing arrangements in any jazz style, including the bop and hard-bop style of Horace Silver, Clifford Brown, and John Coltrane; the classic two-horn frontline with vocalist lineup, as popularized by Cannonball Adderly with Nancy Wilson, Marty Paich, and contemporary artists such as Michael Buble and Harry Connick Jr.; the smooth jazz stylings of Fourplay and Spyro Gyra; and arrangements for a big band jazz ensemble with five saxophones, four trumpets, four trombones, and full rhythm section, in the style pioneered by Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Bob Brookmeyer, Maria Schneider, and others.

By the end of this music arrangement course, you will not only have had the experience of writing many complete arrangements, but you will have resources that you can turn to for further inspiration, as well as access to a growing network of colleagues in the field of jazz writing. Course author Brian Lewis has written jazz arrangements for over thirty years, with works commissioned and recorded on a yearly basis since 1990. The course brings together all of his knowledge and experience, with the goal of imparting thorough and practical methods for becoming a versatile and sought-after jazz arranger.

By the end of the course, you will be able to:

  • Apply proven arranging concepts in all the major jazz styles
  • Understand voicing and harmonization techniques and use them to create specific musical moods
  • Write for the characteristics of individual instruments and sections of instruments
  • Analyze the work of the greatest jazz arrangers
  • “Role model” in order to stimulate the writing process
  • Identify the characteristic functions of the rhythm section when constructing grooves and comping patterns
  • Demonstrate how to reshape melodies from lead sheet formats into stylistic, personalized melodic treatments
  • Write complete, original arrangements (seven will be completed during the term)


Lesson 1 Rhythm Section and One Solo Instrument: Smooth Jazz

Lesson 2 Bebop and Hard Bop

Lesson 3 Solis and Working with Vocalists

Lesson 4 Big Band

Lesson 5 Writing for Large Jazz Ensemble

Lesson 6 Writing for Large Jazz Ensemble (Part 2)

Lesson 7 Writing for Three Horns and Rhythm Section

Lesson 8 Three Horns and Rhythm Section; Funk and Fusion

Lesson 9 Writing for Five Horns

Lesson 10 Final Project: Large Ensemble Arrangement

Lesson 11 Final Project: Large Ensemble Arrangement (Part 2)

Lesson 12 Large Ensemble Arrangement (Part 3)


Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements

Completion of Arranging: Advanced Horn Writing or equivalent knowledge and experience in basic arranging concepts, such as instrument ranges, chord spelling, voicing, and harmonization is required. You should also know modes and related chord scales. Knowledge of basic reharmonization techniques is helpful, but not required. Recommended experience in a digital audio workstation (DAW) of choice.

Required Textbook(s)

  • The New Real Book: Vol. 1 by Chuck Sher, Sher Music Co.

Software Requirements

  • Finale (full version, 2009 or higher) or Sibelius (full version, 4 or higher); alternatively, you can opt to hand write your notation and scan it for submission

Hardware Requirements

  • A printer is recommended, so that you can print out music examples used in the course
  • A scanner may be required if you are going to hand-write your assignments


Brian Lewis - Jazz Arranging
Brian Lewis

Author & Instructor

Composer, arranger, and trumpet player Brian Lewis is a professor in the Ear Training department at Berklee College of Music. His jazz ensemble compositions/arrangements are regularly performed and recorded by many universities and colleges nationally and internationally. His transcriptions have been published by Keyboard magazine. As a performer, Brian has worked with the Mel Lewis Orchestra, David Clayton-Thomas, Donna Summer, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Phil Woods, Don Menza, the O’Jays, the Spinners, the Four Tops, the Temptations, Paul Anka, and others. He holds a bachelor’s degree in music from State University of New York and a master’s degree in jazz writing from the University of Miami.

What’s Next?

When taken for credit, Jazz Arranging can be applied towards these associated programs:

Associated Certificate Programs

  • General Music Studies Professional Certificate
  • General Music Studies Advanced Professional Certificate
  • Jazz Composition and Arranging Professional Certificate

Associated Degree Majors

  • Bachelor’s Degree in Music Production
  • Bachelor’s Degree in Music Business
  • Bachelor’s Degree in Electronic Music Production and Sound Design
  • Bachelor’s Degree in Interdisciplinary Music Studies (Create Your Own Major)