My name is Eric Richards and I’m the assistant professor of composition and jazz studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Prior to beginning my 2nd career as a college professor, I spent 20 years as composer/arranger with the US Army Field Band based near Washington, DC. I’ve had the good fortune of having my music played in world-wide venues and jazz festivals by groups such as the US Army Jazz Ambassadors, the USAF Airmen of Note, the National Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Pops Orchestra and many others. As a professional writer and an educator of composer-arrangers, I’ve seen the importance of what I call “global planning” (I’m not talking about carbon footprints here) with regard to a clear, compelling structure for a composition or arrangement.
Many new writers have already developed a solid basic vocabulary of harmony, melodic concepts and the most important component in jazz composition or improvisation, RHYTHM. The challenge is assembling these components into a musical “story” with an effective arc that unfolds in the time allotted for the piece. I think the challenge is very similar to the one faced by improvisers: “I’ve spent all of this time working on ii–V patterns, bebop scales, hip licks, and learning the changes, now how do I put this all of this vocabulary and technique together to tell a story?"
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