How To Compose Big Band Music – Step By Step Guide

Posted by Mike Schumacher

This article will discuss how to compose big band music and give some tips for composing big band music. Also known as marching band music, big band music can be utilized in any form of musical performance.

You might be interested in knowing how to play your favorite music using your non-electric instrument. Here is a step by step guide to playing scales and arpeggios with various electronic music software.

How to compose a big band piece

One of the most important things to consider when composing a big band piece is your theme. If you do not have a specific theme or a main idea, you will never find success with writing big band music.

Some people find it easier to begin their big band music with an introduction.

Some examples of an introduction would be an introduction to the big band genre, such as The Glenn Miller Orchestra’s hit What a Wonderful World, written by Burton Cummings and Jack Blatt for their 1972 album, Right Time.

In other words, just get the big band melody flowing and then let the others develop the rest of the music.

You will also find inspiration in the other music you’re playing with in the band.

This might be one of the most important parts of composing big band music, because if you aren’t inspired you will never have a great big band piece to play or listen to.

However, an idea is not enough to compose great big band music. It’s also important to learn about big band instruments such as the tuba.

Why? Well, you might have played the tuba at some point in your life, but do you know how to compose big band music with it?

No? Well, you’re in for a treat.

Types of big band music

Music band performing in front of building

There are four different categories of big band music, that will help you know which type of music to write for your band. There is novelty, jazz, swing, and standard.

Noteworthy things to keep in mind:

The melody

As mentioned earlier, it is very important that the melody has a basic structure. In order for this to be effective, it should be short and it should be simple.

Because the whole idea of a big band is to get your audience to have a good time, the melody shouldn’t be too long and too boring to listen to.

Let’s take a more simple example, an introduction. If you want your audience to be ready for a good time, it is best to begin with a nice easy introduction.

It might be beneficial to create a musical outline for your big band, because it will help you decide how you should start your band with your melody.

Key signature

One of the most important things to keep in mind is the key signature of your big band music. This will help you decide how fast or slow to play your big band melody.

If you play with the root of your melody on C, it will play like a country or traditional American big band.

If, however, you begin with the root of your melody on C, it will play like a jazz big band.

You can follow your musical idea with other notes that will fit with the melody you have.

MIDI tuning

Another thing that you must keep in mind is whether your big band melody is in key. We all know the difference between Major and Minor keys and are aware of the common modes of music.

The key of C is tuned to the Minor key of E flat major.

In order for you to play your big band music, it is important that the melody is in tune with the key signature of your band.

In other words, if the melody you are writing for your big band is written in C, it would be incorrect to use the Dmaj7 chord because this would be out of key.

Major and Minor scales

Now that you’ve learned all about the four categories of big band music, it’s time to learn how to tune your big band band.

Learning major and minor scales is an important step that will take you a long way with big band music. If you know how to transpose chords from one key to another, you will be ready to start writing big band music.

It’s important to note, however, that each big band genre has their own scale, so you should not use the scale that is used in your genre, but use a scale that is close to it.

This might seem complicated, but once you get the hang of it, it will be second nature.


man playing guitar solo

In order for you to become a big band composer, you must make an effort to learn and understand all of the information I’ve discussed here.

Although it might seem complicated at first, I promise you that once you master it, it will become easy to make big band music for your band.

One of the best ways to become a big band composer is to start writing your own music. Just write something simple and make the piece all about you.

Once you feel confident, you can start putting that music out for other people to hear.

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