Understanding the jazz language
If you are interested in becoming an orchestrator, there is no better teacher than the music itself. Find an orchestral score and recording of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker: listen, read, and learn! In so doing, you are making a connection between the written page and how it translates into sound.
1. The introduction makes use of the melodic motif found in the fifth measure of the original tune. This introductory motif then becomes important material for the transition and key change in measures 13-16.
2. The first four bars of the melody (measures 5-8) use a harmonic device called pedal point. In pedal point, the harmony moves over a static bass (in this case, "e"). Pedal point is found in many types of music, from baroque to rock, and it serves many a jazz musician well.
3. Note the descending alto line in measures 9-12. An inner chromatic part such as this provides "glue" to jazz progressions, creating stability as other parts move around it.
4. The harmonic progression in measures 17-18 (I-vi-ii-V) is a pop "cliche" and can be found in countless songs.
5. Pedal point appears again in measures 21-22.
6. Measures 28-36 feature a minor key variation. Swing the eighth note and keep the articulations crisp. The descending bass line in measures 32-33 imitates a jazz "walking bass." '"
The music for Frere Jacques appears on page 30.