The Biggest Big Band is a project began in lockdown. Commissioned by Dark Peak Music, in my home town of Glossop, it is a musical project aimed to keep young musicians engaged in music making whilst in lockdown.
The first project began in April 2020 and was taken up by 20 students in the area. I created 10 instructional videos, each focussing on one strong musical idea. The student then is required to create a video of themselves playing/singing the results of the instructions. No sheet music was required, all the materials were on screen and explained. They involved
1. Playing by ear
2. Rhythmic patterns to be repeated to create a groove
3. Improvisation using specified rhythmic ideas
4. Improvisation using specified pitches
5. Creating their own musical part to fit with others
6. Understanding comping and basic jazz chords
The videos were sent to the music administrator, organised into folders and then I created a final piece with the material gathered. This is a musical arrangement with video windows on screen. The final piece was shared as a live streamed event for Dark Peak Music summer concert.
The project was taken up by 6 other music centres in Derbyshire and Cheshire. Some combined forces. I made 4 arrangements in the end.
Biggest Big Band 2 is a similar project, again commissioned by Dark Peak Music with 10 instructional videos. This project involves students actually playing along with Tito Puente’s 1957 band in the tune ‘El Cayuco’.
I have broken the track into sections, looped them and created backing tracks to introduce and practise different rhythmic, melodic and harmonic ideas. Again, it introduces basic ideas on improvisation, playing by ear and accompaniment, as well as singing the melody (in Spanish!) As we were leaving lockdown, I have introduced a live element to this project where small groups of musicians can get together and record videos. Also, it is possible to use the ideas from the videos to create a live performance if we get to a stage where everyone can play together. The final video includes a track combining all the elements learned, in a 3 minute track.