I am composing a Jazz Quintet. Never learned jazz theory but I know uneven rhythms are key to jazz. And saxophones are most commonly used in jazz. So I decided to compose a piece for 5 saxophones.
Train of thought
At first I thought of composing a piano sonata out of just 5 notes per octave(in other words, one based on the Pentatonic scale). Then I thought "Why not add a saxophone?" This lead to me not basing it off of the Pentatonic scale but rather the Bb major scale and adding 4 more saxophones and getting rid of the piano staves.
But now I have a problem. The saxophones blend so well that it is like listening to a single instrument almost instead of 5. Here they are in staff order:
- Soprano saxophone
- Alto saxophone
- Tenor saxophone
- Baritone saxophone
- Bass saxophone
I can think of 3 ways to make an individual saxophone stand out:
SoloThis is the most obvious way. If 1 of the saxophones goes solo, than of course it is going to stand out because it is the only instrument playing.
This is another obvious solution. If I have 1 saxophone at forte and the others at mezzo piano, the one at forte is going to stand out while the others will still be heard but in the background.
And this is the third way I can think of making 1 saxophone stand out. If only 1 is playing legato while the others are playing staccato, the legato is going to stand out over the staccato, even if the staccato is louder.
But I can't think of any other ways. I thought rhythm and melody alone would be enough, since it is, even for a group of flutes. But apparently, saxophones are even better at blending than flutes are because each one of the saxophones has a different line and a different rhythm and yet they still blend into an almost homogeneous sound.
With flutes, I could tell, even with the best blending, which flute is playing which line. But I can't with the saxophones. I wasn't at all aiming for it to be homogeneous and yet, that is how it sounds.
By the way, I'm using Musescore and have no idea if it is possible to mute all except 1 instrument in Musescore. Not that it is important, just figured I would mention that.
So how can I make a single saxophone stand out without having it go solo, be louder than the other saxophones, or be the only one playing legato?