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Topic: JABB Jazz Guitar Orchestration & Range question

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  1. #1

    JABB Jazz Guitar Orchestration & Range question

    I am orchestrating a piece that I originally composed on the piano. I have an ostinato bass that's a bit of a problem. It's a little too high for the normal range of a Bass and a little too low for the guitar. It goes from the 2nd C below Middle C to the B below Middle C.

    Transposing isn't viable, because that would put the vocals outside of the range that is comfortable for the singer. A cello fits nicely in this range, but I have tried every cello library I own and it always sounds much too heavy when played arco, and has a bit too much color when played pizz. Either one would completely change the character of the piece. The least resonant Harp in GPO is the best that I have been able to do so far ... but what I'd really like is a soft, nylon string guitar (with the string Bass doubling on the chorus and coda).

    Of course, all my guitar samples (including Real Guitar, which is what I wanted to use) have the E below Middle C as the lowest note. Looking at the manual for JABB, I found an Oribe accoustic guitar with 10 strings, which goes down to the A. So the range would be fine. I'm just wondering how common this type of instument is. I'd never heard of a 10-string guitar before. Is it something that is easily obtainable if this piece is performed live? Also, I am wondering about how high its upper range goes. There are a lot more shaded keys on the display in JABB than actually make a sound when I play them.

    Finally, I have an old gig sample library - God knows where I got it - of a Washburn acoustic bass guitar. I was thinking of using it as a substitute for the Oribe, or uisng it with the Oribe in place of the upright string bass. Here's the problem: this sample appears to be stretched to cover way too many keys, and it appears to be mapped an octave lower than the pitch I am actually playing. I can remedy the latter problem easily enough by transposing. But I'd like to know the true range of the real instrument. Even if this is never played live, I think it will only sound right if it's in the actual ranges. Everything I've read about the bass guitar advises against making the bass line go higher than the G or A below Middle C. Since I need to do that, I don't want to use the Washburn sample unless this something that could be - or is - playable by most musicians on this instrument.

  2. #2

    Re: JABB Jazz Guitar Orchestration & Range question

    a 10 string guitar is more or less known as a classical guitar, not so common in pop oriented music.

    Karl Garrett is a well known member here, and he sampled the ten string for the Garritan JABB library. Send Karl a PM (personal message) if you like.

    Dan

  3. #3

    Re: JABB Jazz Guitar Orchestration & Range question

    The range you describe is within the capabilities of a professional bassist, although you are pushing things a little. I'd leave it as is for the bass or possibly reconsider my ostinato pattern. Is it fixed in stone or do you have some leeway to alter it to a more compact range? IMHO, using a guitar to replace the bass isn't going to work very well. It'll just sound like you used a guitar to replace the bass ;-) Another option would be to use the 10-string to double the bass line throughout the ostinato, or to have the bass and guitar trade off halves of the ostinato with some interplay between the two.
    Paul Baker
    Baker's Jazz And More
    Austin, Texas, USA
    www.bakersjazzandmore.com

  4. #4

    Re: JABB Jazz Guitar Orchestration & Range question

    I wrote the piece on the piano (because it is the only instrument I play) but it was originally intended for guitar, string section and vocal. Someone played it for me on a 12-string guitar, years ago, and I don't remember him having a problem with it. I transposed it down a step since then, to make the range easier for vocalists, but I realize now that he still would have had to transpose it up another step not to loose the lowest note.

    Anyway, the guitar is the instrument I want. The bass guitar would be my second choice - it does make everything sound heavier, and it really is better with a very light ostinato under the very small string section. Just another gap in my very sporatic music education: I didn't know that jazz guitars had a lower range. I've read and re-read several books on contemporary orchestration and arranging and none of them mentioned it. I'm just glad to have found it, as it solves this problem for me.

  5. #5

    Re: JABB Jazz Guitar Orchestration & Range question

    FWIW, In 30 years of jazz gigs, I've never seen anything other than a 6 string guitar, so I would NOT assume you'll get anything but a 6 string unless you specifically request that particular instrument. I've seen plenty of 12 string guitars with the standard doubled tunings, but I don't know that I've ever seen a 10 string guitar anywhere. However, my experience in the world of classical guitar is practically non-existent, so I'm speaking from very limited knowledge in that area.
    Paul Baker
    Baker's Jazz And More
    Austin, Texas, USA
    www.bakersjazzandmore.com

  6. #6

    Re: JABB Jazz Guitar Orchestration & Range question

    One further note - guitarists will occasionally tune their instruments down a whole step when the need arises, but you'd have to discuss that with them beforehand as well.
    Paul Baker
    Baker's Jazz And More
    Austin, Texas, USA
    www.bakersjazzandmore.com

  7. #7

    Re: JABB Jazz Guitar Orchestration & Range question

    Regarding the comment from the brother about knowing nothing other than 6 string guitars in jazz....there are actually several 7-string players in jazz; most notably Bucky Pizarelli, whom I've seen live playing a 7. I myself am a gigging jazz cat, albeit only a paltry 5 years, but I play a 7-string nylon-stringed tuned AEADGBE. The usual low B is tuned down to an A. With this tuning, I don't have to re-learn chord voicings hardly at all. Beautiful sound, nice extension to the range of the instrument.

  8. #8

    Re: JABB Jazz Guitar Orchestration & Range question

    There's also the NS Stick, which is typically tuned BEADGCEA with the low B string an octave and a fourth below a guitar's low E string (i.e. a fourth below the low E of a double bass) and the high A a fifth below a guitar's high E string.

  9. #9

    Re: JABB Jazz Guitar Orchestration & Range question

    Quote Originally Posted by ejr
    Everything I've read about the bass guitar advises against making the bass line go higher than the G or A below Middle C. Since I need to do that, I don't want to use the Washburn sample unless this something that could be - or is - playable by most musicians on this instrument.
    Basses with extraordinary numbers of strings are becoming more popular in recent years, but that's not to say that every bassist has one lying around.

    Baritone guitars (longer scale than ordinary) have also been around for a long time, but never really took off. I've never acutally seen one in a live performance situation. Seven-string guitars of ordinary scale have been around for ages (thinking of George Van Eps in particular), but again, they're not too common. So it looks to me like your musical idea surely is feasible from either direction, but you'd just have to find the right person with the right tool for the job. Not an uncommon problem, eh? :>)

  10. #10
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Salisbury, UK
    Posts
    312

    Re: JABB Jazz Guitar Orchestration & Range question

    Not forgetting of course that the guitar sounds one octave lower than written. Therefore, the bottom E string notated as E below middle C actually sounds as E an octave plus a sixth below middle C.

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