The Book Of Jazz - online reference book

Its Nature, Instruments, Sources, Sounds, Development & Performers

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*It all starts with the soloist. What he plays today the arranger writes tomorrow."                                                  -Tony Scott
Once the premise is accepted that jazz can be composed and arranged, a postulate once rejected by experts but now accepted by most, it becomes necessary to assess the similarities and dis­tinctions between composition and arrangement. These are two of the most misunderstood terms in jazz; the layman is aware of the first and vaguely conscious of the second, while even the musician at times tends to confuse the terms.
The composer (etymologically, together-putter) assembles a group of notes horizontally on the manuscript paper, or interprets them with voice or instrument, to form a melodic line pleasing to the ear. The arranger's task clearly is more complex, since he is charged with the orchestration (scoring) of a composition in such a manner that the voicing of the instruments, vertically, is no less attractive than the melodic line; in many instances the arranger himself devises the melody and orchestrates it more or less simultaneously. Even when he is scoring a melody created by another writer, he may invest it with all the qualities of har­monic and rhythmic subtlety, of variations on the theme, that lead to the creation of a successful jazz performance. Thus, in effect, whether he wrote the original line or not, the arranger always is also a composer. The converse is not true. Some writers of melodies have no laiowledge of orchestration or, even if they