Transcribing a Jazz Solo and Creating a 5 Part Sax Arrangement

Transcribing a jazz solo and creating a 5 part sax arrangement

Jonathan Searfoss
[email protected]
West Podunk

TI:ME Technology Areas Addressed:



High School




midi keyboard and computer
variable speed cd player
Finale 2004


120 Minutes

Prior Knowledge and Skills:

Basic knowledge and skill with Finale,
advanced saxophone technique

MENC Standards Addressed:

MENC 2: Performing on instruments, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.
MENC 3: Improvising melodies, harmonies, and accompaniments.
MENC 4: Composing and Arranging Music within specified guidelines.
MENC 5: Reading and notating music.
MENC 6: Listening to, analyzing and describing music.
MENC 7: Evaluating music and music performances.


Recording of Charlie Parker’s “Now’s the Time”
midi keyboard
variable speed cd player
Finale 2004

Charlie Parker Omni Book


Transcribe 32 measures of the Charlie Parker solo in “Now’s The Time” using the correct notation protocols for two instrumental score: one for solo alto sax and the other for 5 saxes for performance.


1. Using the variable speed cd player, the student will transribe and enter the music into a score using either Simple Entry or Speedy Entry. Be sure to check each measure for correct rhythms and pitches. (60 min.)
2. In Finale, format and print the solo alto sax part. The student will then compare their version with the Omni Book version. ( 5 min.)
3. Any errors should be corrected.
4. Enter the chord symbols. (5 min.)
5. Using the “Scoring and Arranging” Plug-In, create a rhythm section accompaniment based on that progression.
6. Student plays along with accompaniment and can vary tempo in Finale to work out the fingerings. (20 min.)
7. Create additional staves for another alto sax, two tenor saxes and baritone sax.
8. Using the “Scoring and Arranging” Plug-In, create a harmonized sax arrangement for 5 saxes. (5 min.)
9. Encourage the student to make any changes in the score if the harmony can be improved upon. (5 min.)
10. Extract and print parts. (5 min.)
11. Rehearse with the other saxophone students and perform at after school jazz ensemble rehearsal. (15 min.)


The student’s (or students’) work is evaluated through correct performance and jazz interpretation, and then assigned a grade based on a performance rubric.

Follow Up:

1. A sax student with a knowledge of jazz harmony can delete the computer generated arrangement and write their own.
2. Other students may be inspired to creat an arrangement for their own instrument based on a song, a solo or an original work.

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