I'm thinking of composing pieces for small ensembles with varied instrumentation.

Typically I compose on a keyboard. How do I determine if the musician can easily play on brass instruments such as trumpet, cornet and trombone the parts I write for them?

  • You could have put this with your woodwind question. See my answer there, this is a duplicate. Commented Jan 17, 2018 at 2:42
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    See also my answer to your other question. But for brass you should keep in mind that if you're working with amateur players, the range can be significantly smaller than what professional players are trained to deal with (especially high notes). Consult with your performers if in doubt.
    – Remy
    Commented Jan 17, 2018 at 4:02
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    @jjmusicnotes My previous "playable" question asking about strings, brass and woodwinds was closed for being too broad. Hence the separate questions about brass and woodwinds.
    – empty
    Commented Jan 17, 2018 at 15:19
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    @jjmusicnotes Wait a second. We can't close as a duplicate to a closed question. Especially if this question is specifically written to avoid the problem of the closed duplicate. Commented Jan 17, 2018 at 22:14

2 Answers 2


If you can sing it (or could have, if your vocal pitch range matched that of the instrument) It's a fair bet the brass player can manage it. Brass instruments, even trombone with its slide, are much more agile than many composers give them credit for.


A good rule of thumb is to look up the range of the instrument for which you're trying to write (of course, be sure to determine whether you're looking at concert range, or the range that is transposed to the instrument's key), and then write your music within that range, avoiding notes that are on the high or low end of that range. Notes on the high or low end of ranges tend to be difficult to play because they require more air, or physical finesse, and are harder to keep in tune.

Ultimately, even while keeping these things in mind, you have to know for whom you're writing. You will write differently for seasoned musicians at Fox's scoring stage than you will for a local student ensemble. Something else to keep in mind is that some of the best sounding music isn't overly difficult to play, so writing something that sounds "easy" doesn't necessarily mean the audience won't enjoy it, or that the piece of music is bad.

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