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JAZZ ENSEMBLE COMPOSITION CONTEST RULES

Please read this complete set of rules before submitting your piece. (Instructions for submission are found on the previous page, in the section "How to enter.")

1. Entries must be original, unpublished compositions for instrumental jazz ensemble, utilizing the following instrumentation:

  • A solo part for guest artist Camille Thurman. This solo part can be written for soprano sax, tenor sax, flute or vocals, or could mix them. If you write for Ms. Thurman to sing, her vocal range is: Full voice ranges from F3 (F below middle C) up to C5 (C one octave above middle C); head voice starts above C5, with the highest pitch of Bb5 (see photo).
  • 5 saxophones AATTB. Utilizing soprano sax or other woodwind doubles may be possible, but any/all doubling parts must be optional, and the chart must be playable without the doubles. If the winning piece contains woodwind doubles, the winning composer may be asked to rework and re-send saxophone parts with a different configuration, depending on the strengths of the section this year.
  • 4 trombones (3 tenor + 1 bass trombone). Common mutes are usable.
  • 4 Bb trumpets. Common mutes are usable. The range and endurance of college and high school honor band trumpeters should be considered thoughtfully. Flugelhorn is possible, although it is unlikely the entire section can play flugels simultaneously.
  • Rhythm section of piano, guitar, bass and drum set. A part for vibes or other auxiliary percussion is also possible. Piano can be written in one staff or two, depending on what’s needed for the music.

2. Judges will use the following primary criteria to assess submissions:

  • Quality: The overall musical quality of the piece.
  • Suitability: The piece must be conceived to effectively feature the guest artist, Camille Thuman. Composers are encouraged to listen to Ms. Thurman’s recordings and performances to get an idea of her musical persona.
  • Tradition: Compositions should be steeped in the traditions of jazz. Creativity and originality are certainly necessary, but the music must have a fundamental connection to jazz.
  • Accessibility: Compositions should be musically accessible to both the audience and the performers.
  • Difficulty: The difficulty level of the compositions should be such that they are playable by high school honor jazz bands, college bands, and professionals alike. Brass range should be carefully considered in terms of the related aspects of (1) not being too high or loud, and (2) allowing enough time for players to rest. All aspects should be considered for brass playability.
  • Professional notation: See below for details.

3. Professional notation: Submissions must be professionally notated and clear. Composers are encouraged to read Darcy James Argue’s article “Music Preparation Basics” for guidelines on professional music notation. Professional notation includes (but is not limited to) aspects such as:

  • Scores must be full, with each instrument on its own staff.
  • Transposed scores are preferred, but concert key scores are permitted as long as clefs are chosen to eliminate excessive/confusing ledger lines. 
  • Scores should be setup so they can be bound properly when printed, and parts should have well-considered page turns.
  • Roadmap, including such elements as repeats, D.S., D.C., coda, etc. should be easy for conductor and players to follow. These aspects must match between the score and parts.
  • Commonly known/used chord symbols.
  • Well-considered music spacing, number of bars per system, etc., in both the score and parts.
  • Sufficient rehearsal letters/numbers (at least every 8 bars, or 12 bars for a blues, etc.)
  • Correct instrumental transpositions.
  • Clear style indicated, with sufficient articulations and dynamics throughout.
  • Elements should not overlap, in neither the score nor parts.

4. No transcriptions or arrangements will be eligible, except arrangements or re-workings of the composer’s own pieces/tunes.

5. The contest is open to all composers, regardless of age, race, religion, country of residence, national origin, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, or any other category. However, current Ithaca College students, faculty or staff are not eligible to enter the contest. Students, faculty and staff composers are encouraged to submit pieces/arrangements to Professor Titlebaum for consideration for performance at any time (including for this concert) but not to enter the contest itself. This rule is in place to ensure complete anonymity of the composers.

6. The submitted composition may already have been performed but should have been written recently (in the past few years) The purpose of this contest is to encourage the creation of new music, but no exact time period is mandated.

7. No commercial recordings of the piece should be released or are easily/readily available. If the recording has been released, it is possible that the judges have already heard it, which would breach confidentiality and necessitate disqualifying the piece.

8. The purpose of the prize is to encourage the composition and performance of the highest possible quality of jazz ensemble literature for a wide range of experience levels. Therefore, the composition should be conceived and constructed for effective performance by high school honors jazz, university and professional ensembles alike. It is our hope that in addition to our concert, the piece could be programmed with high school honor bands, and that professional players would also enjoy playing it.

9. Submitted pieces should be no longer than 8 minutes in length.

10. Improvised solos for students should be notated in such a way such that the ensemble could easily decide to have a different player improvise the solo.  

11. Compositions must be submitted with a full score and full set of parts in PDF form. The score must be in one PDF, and all the parts combined into a single, additional PDF. Compositions without a full score or complete set parts will not be considered.

12. A demo audio recording of the piece must be submitted along with the online entry form. It is the composer’s responsibility to ensure that the demo recording is high quality and is as close as possible to the final, performable version of the piece. High-quality computer renditions or MIDI-based audio recordings are acceptable, but a recording of a live reading, rehearsal, performance, or an overdubbed/virtual band recording with live instruments may convey the piece better. 

13. The contest must remain completely anonymous to be fair. Neither the demo recording nor PDF files submitted to the contest can reveal any identifying information about the composer. In addition to the audio contained in the mp3 and the music in the PDFs themselves, you must ensure that all embedded mp3 fields and metadata (artist, album, comments, etc.) and PDF fields (title, author, subject, keywords, etc.) contain nothing that could identify you. Any identifying information within the attached files or metadata will immediately disqualify your piece.

14. The Jazz Ensemble reserves the right to withhold awarding the prize if no piece is deemed suitable.

15. Composers may only submit one piece per year.

16. Entries must be submitted through the online form no later than 5pm EST on January 7th 2022 to be eligible.