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30. September 2021

A Salsa Situation – One Finger Big Band Voicing


In this video Peter is playing a short piece using the SWAM Big Band Template. Throughout the whole performance only a single Divisimate Orchestration Preset ist used. In the left hand Peter is playing the bass line through voice 1, while in the right hand he is playing the full big band with 4 trumpets, 5 saxophones and 4 trombones in the melody range. He is only playing single notes here, but through a combination of different transposers on the instruments a full big band voicing is created.

You can download the preset used here:


Each instrument of the brass and saxophones has a transposer which is locked to the scale of A harmonic minor. The transpositions for the individual instruments are as follows:

Instruments Transpositions
Trumpet 1, Alto Sax 1 0 (Original Pitch)
Trumpet 2 -2 scale degrees (down a third)
Trumpet 3, Alto Sax 2 -3 scale degrees (down a fourth)
Trumpet 4, Tenor Sax 1 -5 scale degrees (down a sixth)
Trombone 1, Tenor Sax 2 -7 (down an octave)
Trombone 2, Baritone Sax -9 (down a third and an octave)
Trombone 3 -10 (down a fourth and an octave)
Bass Trombone -12 (down a sixth and an octave)

When we look at the the three sections individually, we get a better idea of the relationship of the resulting voicings. Here are the resulting chords within the sections with the top note A.

The trumpets are playing an A-6 chord as a closed voicing in first inversion, and the trombones are doubling the exact same chord one octave lower. The saxophones however are voiced slightly different.
The F# which is present in the trumpets in the close voicing is dropped down an octave into the Baritone Sax – while the Tenor Sax is additionally doubling the top voice an octave lower. Compared to a closed voicing, the second note in the chord (counting from the top) is dropped an octave here – which is why in isolation, this kind of voicing is called “Drop-2 Voicing”.
In combination with the trumpets and trombones, the saxes build a connection between the two brass instrument sections. This way the whole band blends together into one homogenous chorus.

Want to learn more about these kinds of voicings? Check out this article:

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