Date of Award

Spring 5-10-2012

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis



First Advisor

Lawrence Panella

Advisor Department



This study will attempt to de-mystify some of the techniques utilized in contemporary large ensemble jazz arranging. Large ensemble writing has morphed drastically from its earlier, more well-known inceptions, and yet there is no academic literature out there to explain exactly what this change entails. Through this study, I will attempt to break down the components of this music in order to provide insight for the non-musician and inspiration for the aspiring jazz composer. There is a wealth of knowledge to be found in the large ensemble music of the past decade, and I will attempt to systematically break this up into digestible bits.

Rather than presenting entire scores for analysis, I will analyze the scores on my own and then organize the information based on eight sub-categories that I believe are inherent in all big band music: harmony, melody, voicings, form, counterpoint, texture, orchestration, and unifying components. This way, each of these components can be compared and contrasted, which will hopefully offer new angles on writing for composers and composer-performers alike. Large ensemble writing is truly an artform, and it is vital that this information be disseminated among younger writers, which is why a study such as this serves a very important purpose. There are gaps in the traditional jazz education materials with regard to more contemporary forms of arranging, and hopefully this study will help to bridge some of these.

Included in

Music Commons