A common voicing technique in big band music is to have the 4th trumpet play an octave below the lead trumpet. Is there a limit to how low this can go and still be effective, other than the hard limit of the 4th trumpet's lowest note?

2 Answers 2


Low range limit of the trumpet is pretty much the limit, but you'll want to listen to the pitches of the 3rd and 2nd above it if it's a closed voicing. It shouldn't be too muddy, even in a closed voicing, but a cluster chord at the trumpet's low range can sound a little...flubby.

If you're coming up against that low-end limit, consider doubling lead, trying a different voicing type (if you're doing Drop 2+4 or quartal, try 4-way close), or just use lead trumpet as a melodic lead, and leave the harmonic voicings to saxes and bones using a sort of tutti spread rather than 4- or 5-part soli.

"The lead range, related balance considerations, and the need for variety in spacing (close versus open) should help you determine which voicings to choose and for how long." - Modern Jazz Voicings, Ted Pease & Ken Pullig

  • There's so much great arranging advice in this answer!
    – jdjazz
    Dec 20, 2017 at 16:45

I wouldn't go below written A. And if you find yourself in this area too much, consider another voicing strategy.

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