Tips for using Explode to quick-arrange?

I need to knock out some brass charts, basic punchy stuff. Are there some tools or tips for this? How do others use this successfully?

Just record onto one staff, then explode? I have 3 tpts, horn, 2 trombones (actually 1 tbn and 1 euphonium), and tuba. Not a standard section, I know, but that’s what I have…

@FredGUnn? Others? TIA.

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For writing, I’d probably configure the brass to be high to low, even if that won’t be the final score layout. Writing in concert key, just extend the input cursor down through the staves you want to write into for any that are consecutive. It makes it easy to input an entire trumpet section at once for example. You do sometimes get some odd harmonics this way as Dorico is considering the other notes too I think, so switch to transposed and proofread horizontally after inputting to make sure the lines are what the player will want to see. That’s probably how I would work anyway.


The problem is that I get everything stacked towards the bottom. This is entered as octaves. Only the top part gets the upper octave:

Still the fastest way? Just fix it after?

For something that’s unison or octaves, I usually just input it once then alt-click around using ctrl+alt+ arrow to change the octave as needed. Extending the input caret I really only use for harmonized passages.

You know the score, Dan. Don’t like a setting? Change it. (This applies to midi input as well as exploding, btw.)


I didn’t know about this setting, thanks!

A follow-up for @FredGUnn and anyone else who is experienced with brass charts. I know this is a bit unusual of a request, and I don’t want to take up much forum space, but I could use some advice.

I’m working on arranging a chorus for children’s choir, adult choir, rhythm band, and brass. This is going to be a processional for Palm Sunday. I have no clue what I’m doing with the brass, to be honest. If anyone would be willing to take a quick look and let me know if there are any problems, or something I could do better, I would be most appreciative. I’m out of my element!

PS: the piano is only partially done, mostly sketched in via recording.

Hi Dan – Good brass writing! The ranges are fine, and of course the lines are great. You may find when you get to rehearsal that some of the long notes need to be softer to avoid covering the words.

This recent thread applies to your first figure.

The additional 16ths in bar 26 may be too fast for a slide trombone, but they’re doubled by everybody so it’s fine.

The blue note in bar 69 is not working IMO. Normally instruments play the major and singers go ahead and sing a minor or blue 3rd of the chord. Going the other way around will probably sound like a big wrong note. On beat 2 I would put the root in Tpt 1 (voice the whole triad down for Tpts) and give the Horn the major 3rd too. Also beat 4 has a couple of notes that don’t fit. Make it D♭ for Tpt 3 and octave-B♭ with Tuba for Euph.

The first brass cue in m. 16 is not very informative because those words repeat often. I would omit the first bar and start it at the last “rejoice” because that’s the unique bit, and it’s early enough before the entrance. (I notice that shortening the cue to start mid-beam draws a partial beam. I might just break that original beam and ignore the inconsistency.) I don’t think the later cues are really necessary. Very few bars to count.

Not much to criticize! This is a good example of how basic musicianship goes a long way toward good writing, even for unfamiliar instruments.


Sorry, I was recording all day yesterday so just getting caught up here. For the brass stuff, I guess it depends a bit on what sort of feel you want. I would probably be inclined to introduce some more blues-based harmony to get a more gospel-y feel. A few random comments:

m22 - NP plays the 16th on 4 short, but real brass players will not unless you add a staccato. You obviously may know this, but wasn’t sure if you were going off the audio or the notation.

I generally would put articulations on any quarter that isn’t under a slur. At this tempo, there are too many options of how to phrase them, and you’re likely going to waste rehearsal time with the lead player dictating phrasing and everyone else penciling it in.

m39-40 - Could be a nice moment to feature the brass with even more interesting harmony, or more interesting melodic line leading into 41. Some more blues-based harmony could be nice on the blue note. Odd voice crossing with the Horn playing a Bb over the A in Tpt 1. If keeping this phrase and the Hn is col Tbn 1 for beats 3 & 4, I’d go ahead and double on beat 2 as well.

m47-48 - cues probably unnecessary (as Mark said above)

m49-56 - Long notes like these are physically taxing for the brass. Obviously fine for this piece, but if they are playing an hour long service or something, it might not be worth wearing them out with “footballs” unnecessarily, so they still have chops for the end of the gig. Just something to consider based on what else they have to play.

m60 - Could possibly make the modulation a little less abrupt by going from Cm to Ab7 on beat 3, then Cb/Db in m61.

m69 - Echoing Mark’s comments here. I agree that the blue note isn’t quite working, but I think it’s the voicing you have. Using a Gb7+9 there in the brass will give you both the blue note and the 3rd, which will then work fine with the vocalists. (You’ll need to put an Fb in there somewhere too.) Beat 4 isn’t working for me either. Fb triad over Bb? Minor 9th crunch between Tuba and Euph seems strange without any intervening notes.

m69-77ish - I kept wanting to hear some sort of deceptive cadence in here for at least one of the Gb chords. Maybe go to Ebm or something for one of them. (And a preceding Bb7 could be a nice harmonic change)

m79 - Could be nice to have a resolution on the last 2 chords instead of just repeated. E9 to Gb could be one option.

Overall, pretty nice writing though!!!


Wow, thanks to you both. I will make some changes.

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Sorry, another basic question. What sort of articulations?

It really depends on how you’re hearing the phrasing. In m19 for example, you didn’t have an articulation on beat 4, but either of these could be perfectly fine, depending on what you want.

In m30, you could continue the “fat” quarters of the previous bar, or maybe you want those three long for contrast, or 2 long 1 short.

Any of those could be fine, it’s just what you want to hear. Lots of similar examples sorta throughout. If you don’t put anything, generally the players will listen to how the lead trumpet plays it and will follow accordingly, often penciling the articulations into the part. Of course, the lead trumpet might not initially play it the way you’re hearing it either. You can avoid ambiguity and save rehearsal time by simply marking “longs” and “shorts” with the quarters, as they aren’t necessarily obvious at this tempo.

Great, thank you!

I took pretty much all of yours and Mark’s suggestions, except I didn’t have time to work in a deceptive cadence before handing it out to them tonight. I did end up doing E9–Gb resolution on the last two chords and I love it…