I just wrote a chart / lead sheet for a jazz ensemble tonight. Before I hand things out, I often eyeball the parts to make sure the notes are not too high or low, I try not to have B# or Fb or double sharps or flats, and I keep the chart on one page with four bars to a line.
What I often forget to do is do a breathing check. Now if we/I score electronically, we can do most anything we want to make things sound good. And if we write a chart for a keyboard or even strings, we have a lot of variability. But if the score is for a woodwind or horn, we need to remember to give them places to 'breathe'. I put out a chart last night and one of the trumpet players immediately emailed me back saying they couldn't play it because there was little place to breathe - not enough 'space' between 'phrases'. Now 'one' could say that the musician was just not enough of an advanced player and that at a fast tempo, they should be able to blow for 6 beats, a short rest and then two more groups of 6 beats and rests. Maybe yes or maybe no. The trumpet player asked me to experiment by humming the tune or blowing with my mouth to see how it 'feels'.
Well that brought up a couple of things for me since my teacher/mentor constantly tells me to not be married to my notes and to be willing to delete notes. The question becomes are all the notes in the melody 'necessary'. I am very happy to delete unnecessary notes but some notes being deleted could change the 'character' of the melody.
Attached is the chart. Notice the first phrase starts with the pickup in bar 0 and goes 6 beats through beat two of bar 2 followed by a 3/8 rest. This happens 3 times in the "A" section. So the question which we will address tonight is can a trumpet player (this is the piano chart but the trumpet/horn player gets a similar transposed chart) play each of the three phrases of the "A" section with a 3/8 rest OR do we need to pull out say the quarter note at beat 4 of bar 1, 3, and 5. I am not a big fan of that delete since it impacts the melody but we'll see tonight.
But here is something simpler/more obvious - take a look at bar 14 in the bridge which has a tied 1/8 to a 1/4. Non-woodwinds and strings can play it just fine but it's extra blowing for horns and woodwinds and pulling out the tied note in bar 14, 17, and 18 give them more time to breath without significantly affecting the sound of the melody in the bridge.
So remember for live or more 'realistic' electronic scores, give your blowing musicians time to breathe!