This book is a masterpiece. Nothing in its field has come close since it first appeared in 1979. None of the written content has dated because it deals in depth with the big principles of all ensemble writing regardless of style. The attention to detail is meticulous, as are the beautifully copied written examples of score. Re-arranging for ensembles of different sizes is very usefully discussed. If you're a novice don't be daunted by this big book - the beauty of it is that you can read it and take in as much detail as your current know-how allows, and then take in a bigger dose on your next sweep though a few months later - it replaces fear with enthusiasm. It is of far greater value if you can track down the version which contains a CD of top session players demonstrating the content, many from Don's work on the famous CTI recordings (see bottom left of front cover - "available with" means no CD in that version, so don't get caught out). Inevitably some of the recorded examples now sound rather dated, but this is irrevelant - their function is to illustrate, not to entertain. The pages usefully have intentionally wide margins so that you can add your own jottings from other texts (so it becomes an increasingly valuable encyclopaedia over the years!). The only knowledge you need first is to read music, and to know some basic jazz harmony, i.e. four/five-note chords and how they are notated. This book is a wonderful stepping stone to writing for full orchestra for those who want to learn that big task (there are other texts for that, the best probably being Sam Adler's, with its own recorded examples). Perhaps the most telling sign of this book's quality is the author's clear love of his subject - it jumps off every page, and I defy anyone having feasted on the contents to read the touching final paragraph without a lump in the throat! A must.
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This is one of those reviews that don't review much yet, because I only just received the book, but I was inspired to buy this book (including the CD) going by the passionately written and excellent review of the customer who called it a masterpiece. I believe you can trust that person's words ! The book is slimmer than I anticipated, but appears very clearly laid out and to the point. A really professional, no-nonsense layout to make it easy for those who want to study from it the craft of arranging modern/popular music. I do believe that if you're looking for such information, perhaps coming to the whole subject more as a novice like me, you'll be well-served with this book. So, go with that excellent "masterpiece"-review, you can trust what it says.
This book is inspiring, but also pretty advanced. It assumes you have an "academic" background in the theory of harmony - not too useful for an aspiring hobbyist such as myself, except, one does get a look at the manuscripts of real-world examples of commercial orchestration, and that is both daunting and inspiring. And, yes, it delivers the goods, but a bit over my head for the time being - something to aspire to :-)