We specialize in custom arrangements and original shows for marching band. Having music crafted to the strengths of your program is one of the main things that you can do to increase the success of your marching band. This is especially important for small bands with limited instrumentation (see the Small/Limited instrumentation band page).
* Arrangements can be at any level you need
* All scores, parts, and .mp3 files included
* I can also write pit parts, and percussion parts at the easy to moderate level.
* New original compositions include exclusive performance rights and recording rights for 1 year
Pricing is dependent on difficulty level and amount of pit/percussion writing to be done. For complete shows, prices start at $1000 for preexisting shows, and $2000 for completely new shows or extensive rewrites of preexisting shows. Individual song arrangements (2-3 minutes) start at $200 with percussion, $150 with just a single keyboard line.
Information is the key to making this process work. The more information you can give me, the better. A section by section break down of strengths and challenges is essential. Possible soloists, features, or small groups need to be noted. Ideas as to form and timing can also be included. Suitability of selections is something we may have to discuss regarding the ability level of the group.
Arrangements to be taken from recordings and re-arranging existing arrangements will be charged at a higher rate.
All copyright work must be done before any work will be done on arrangements.
Our recent customers;
Adair Co., KY
Woodford Co., KY
Ryle HS, KY
Lee Co., KY
Watertown HS, TN
Flagler Palm Coast HS, FL
Bartram Trail HS, FL
Tattnall Square Academy, GA
Excel HS, AL
N. Laurel HS, KY
Beloved - M
Based on the Edgar Allen Poe poem Annabelle Lee
Written for the 2014 Woodford Co. KY HS Band, John Bowmer, director
Recordings do not include the poem text (it is notated in the scores)
Concerto for Front Ensemble and Marching Band - A
Based on the Howard Hanson Piano Concerto #1
Mozart Sym. No. 1 for Marching Band - MA
1. Sym. No. 25, Mvt.1
2. Serenade in B flat, "Gran Partita", Adagio
3. Overture to the Magic Flute
Transformations - M
Can evil transform into good?
In preparation - Precession of the Equinoxes- MA
1. Pythagoras and Kepler
2. On the Sensations of Tone
3. Mithras Slays the Bull
A Mighty Fortress Reborn
A contemporary setting of "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" by Martin Luther
Written for Tom Case and the John Hardin H.S. Band, Elizabethtown KY
John Cacavas, Arr. Knob
Recordings of any of our works are available firstname.lastname@example.org
SELECTING MUSIC FOR MARCHING BAND (Our ANY ensemble)
With the proper preparation, ANYTHING is possible for the music you choose to put on the field. Keep an open mind. Rule out nothing! No matter what the size of your group, with proper and careful planning, you can play just about any piece of music you wish. Students can and will enjoy playing ANY type of music if it is presented to them in a manner that they can grasp and understand. Remember, selecting good music is the first step to producing good arrangements.
Music should grab your attention on the first hearing. After the second or third listening, good music should start to suggest something - features, drill, guard work, movement ideas, colors, SOMETHING! If you don't start to "see" something in your head fairly early, then the music will not help you in writing the rest of the show. The music must start communicating ideas to you to then communicate to your audience. Make sure it communicates something to YOU, not just some other staff member, friend, or other band director. You are the one who has to deal with the music over the long term. It may speak to someone else, but it has to speak to you for it to work for you.
Be careful of your sources. Just because a tune was published, or was performed by a State Champion, or a Drum and Bugle Corps, doesn't mean it's a great tune, or a great tune for you or your group. Pick music that YOU and your students like. If you do, you'll work harder and create a better product. Dare to be different. Be the only band in you area to play all classical music. Make your band stand out from the crowd, play something completely different from everybody else!
Broaden your musical horizons and listen to some “different” music, you never know what you might find. Some of the “different” music used by the author includes;
-A Ravel String Quartet used as a percussion feature.
-Choral and orchestral literature (mostly unknown to “band” people) by some very gifted composers – John Rutter, William Mathias, and Leos Janacek.
-“Band” composers that have a hidden (to us) side of writing great choral literature – Ron Nelson, Vaclav Nehlybel, and Eric Whitacre (if you have never heard the original vocal versions of Cloudburst, Water Night, or Lux Aurumque, you are missing a rare musical treat!).
-20th century organ music. Listen to some French impressionistic organ music from the early 1900’s! You won’t believe your ears. Check out the Boelmann Toccata for Organ, or the organ works of Paul Creston. Some other modern organ composers are Colin Mawby, Marcel Dupre, Paul Muller, and Samuel Ducommun.
-Older film music can be a treasure trove of great techniques and ideas. The way these older composers could hit an emotion or idea with just a few notes or colors, and then change to something else so quickly, and so logically, is a fantastic example of how we have to work in the marching idiom.
There is also an entire, almost “undiscovered”, treasure trove of music from the early and middle 20th century; orchestral works by William Schuman, Paul Creston, Samuel Barber, William Walton, and Ralph Vaughan Williams (listen to the 4th or 6th Symphonies!); band symphonies by Jerry Bilik and John Barnes Chance; ballet and opera music by Benjamin Britten and Leonard Bernstein; the band music of Cesar Gioviannini, written in the 60’s and early 70’s, which still sounds “new” today.
Another exciting, but still rarely used idea, is to write an original show. With music rights becoming more difficult and expensive to obtain, many bands are exploring writing their own music. It is a huge leap of faith, but the rewards for you and your students can be huge. The two most attractive points to this are, 1. It’s new, original, fresh, and no one else is playing it, and 2. You have complete control over everything. You control the content, pacing, and emotional elements, and also the technical aspects of writing EXACTLY to your band’s strengths. You can feature exactly who you want, when you want, even including the visual elements of your band. Many less known (but not less talented) composers do a brisk business in writing original marching band shows. Seek out these people in your area and see what you can create. One caution about this approach is that you must make sure that the person writing the show understands the marching band idiom. You may still need to have the music “arranged” for your marching band.
How many times have you gone to a band show and heard the same popular movie music over and over? Or even the same current drum corps “hit” over and over. By giving your band its own musical identity you get noticed more by everyone, including the audience and judges.
Thoughts on music selection;
1. General considerations
a. Past history of band (tradition)
b. Current trends (innovation)
c. Musical & educational goals for the coming year
d. Does it fit your teaching style and philosophy?
e. Technical level vs. preparation time (demand vs. ability, both playing and marching)
f. Availability and quality of support staff and equipment
g. Will you be able to acquire/afford the rights to arrange?
h. and most importantly - START EARLY
2. Sources (Great music leads to great arrangements!)
a. Personal experience
b. Recordings – listen, listen, listen!
The internet is an invaluable resource. Surprisingly, iTunes has a large amount of classical and band music in it. You can at least get a 30 second free sample of most of the music. ArkivMusic (http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/main.jsp) is a tremendous resource for classical and band recordings.
c. TV, movies, videos (Can be overdone)
d. Concert band, Orchestral, Choral works
(PLEASE listen to music from genres other than band music. You will be surprised at all the great music out there.)
e. Jazz band charts
f. Solo & Ensemble music
g. Other bands (what works and what doesn't)
h. Drum and bugle corps (what works and what doesn't)
i. Summer workshops
3. Physical, technical, and instrumentation limits
c. Endurance (for most bands, shorter is better)
d. Ear training (can your students hear and tune complex chordal structures?)
e. Strengths and weaknesses of specific sections
f. Equipment available (especially percussion)
g. Marching ability (if you play a fast 7/8 piece, remember you have to march it too!)
4. Specific musical ideas
a. Variety and contrast of musical content
1. Tempos (tempo is the key to musicality) Also, faster does not mean better.
4. Timbers (leads)
5. Keys - major, minor, or modal
6. Varied harmonic vocabulary
7. Rhythmic variation (meter changes)
b. Entertaining to audience, students, director, judges (in that order!)
c. Function of music: competition, parade, stands, homecoming, Jr. Hi. band day.
d. Emotional designs of show (highs and lows, tension and release)
1. high, hard, fast, technical, hard impacts
2. down, soft, slow, expressive, down endings
e. Time allotted per tune
f. Tutti vs. soloists and small ensembles (90% vs. 10%)
g. All sections make musical contributions (woodwinds, brass, and percussion)
h. Places to feature a variety of colors and voicing (leads)
One final note on music (and all program part) selections - While you want to challenge and grow your students, you must also make sure they can be successful. We’ve all be there – “If we just had one more week, we’d be great!” Pick your material, and then have a plan to get all the technical performance issues sorted out at least a month before your “big” show so you can spend time on the aesthetic performance issues – musicality, performing confidently, portraying the emotions and character, etc. - the things you want your audience to get from your program. As stated many other times in this book, you are the only one who truly knows what your students are capable of. Choose wisely! How much rehearsal time have we all wasted on that idea that looked good on paper (even though we probably had doubts in our minds), only to finally get out the “fire hose”, and then spend a bunch more time fixing it. And as also said elsewhere – easier and well performed always beats “hard” and poorly performed, no matter how good the “harder” version looked on paper. “The road to you know where…”