Two-Part Writing for Horns with Fred Stickley: Session #3

by | May 12, 2020 | Video


Good morning boys and girls, songwriters, arrangers, music lovers. We are back for our third session learning about how to write for horns for your rock group and jazz ensemble. We had just left off.

In my little jazz group, we have a trumpet and sax so that’s what we’ve been talking about how to write for two horns. My trumpet player doubles on flugelhorn, and my sax player doubles on flute which is very nice. That’s kind of where we had left off the last time talking about flugelhorns and flutes. Let’s continue with that.

Treble clef. So, what I like to do is typically, you know with trumpet in tenor the trumpets on top. With flute and flugelhorn, I like to put my flute on top. If I’ve got something like this and let’s say the chord is F and B flat, okay, there is… that’s my flute line and so my flugelhorn will be down an octave. B flat… And that will sound great. Okay?

Now, B flat, hmmm… That’s pretty good low spot even though the flugelhorn is the same range as the trumpet. Down there he sounds great G. I mean I’ve written as low as G and A and stuff down form. They sound great.

For flugelhorn I try to keep it in the middle of the staff because that’s where his strength is as a flugelhorn. I’ll get up above into F and G for the flugelhorn, but I mainly cover around the staff in the staff. The flute…

Now, if you’re going to do intervals… So, here we are down here, then I will put the flute on top and we’re doing thirds or sixes and things like that. So, let’s say the chord is G, and here’s our flugelhorn and a half note. Okay? So, here’s our… Let’s make a G minor. So, this will be a B flat. To write it up a third, the flute will play a B flat to a C to a D to an E because that is in the key of G minor. Okay? Or he could be an E flat depending. Depends on what chord follows and what else is happening harmonically.

We will get into that later but that could be depending on whether if we’re an F. If this is the two chords in F, then that would be an E natural. If this was the three chords in E flat. And you don’t know until you know what the chord is before and after. It’s like words in a conversation then it would be E flat but that’s for future stuff ahead of us.

That is an example of flute and flugelhorn. What I want to get into too is some passing things that we can play around with. There’s several different passing chords that we can get into. I don’t know whether it’s too early to get into all that, but I do want to…

If we were like let’s say a passing chord would be or a passing note would be if we’re in let’s say we’re an F… Okay. I’ll put a bar line here. Let’s say we’re an F and let’s say the flute is playing A. And so, since we’re in F it’s going to be B flat, right. And C, eight notes. And the flugelhorn is going to play down a third, so he’ll play an F, a G, and an A.

Okay? If our chord is F, A and F is the first and the third degree of an F triad. Right? And here we have A and C. That’s a third and fifth degree. But what about these two notes? They’re not in an F triad but they’re in the key of F. And so, G and the key of F is a two, is a second degree, and B flat. So, if we were to continue this triad and have a D there, what chord is G…


Oops, the timer. We have G, B flat and D. That is a G minor chord which is the two chords in F. So, if we were in the key of C, our two chords would be D minor built up the second degree of the scale. If our key was B flat, our two chords would be C minor.

And so, those are the notes that we would use. This will work beautifully because these notes are in the key of F and everybody’s moving. That’s the important thing you want. You want to have good voice leading.

In the next lesson we will get into writing for three voices – trumpet, tenor, and trombone. That seems to be a pretty common mix. You can interchange your tenor with an alto sax if you want depending on what’s going on but we’re going to get into some three-part writing which opens up a whole other can of worms.

Thanks for dropping by. Don’t forget to shoot me an email I’d love to hear from you. Thanks for stopping by. I’ll see you again.