Bass parts may include written passages which should be deviated from only with discretion. Sometimes I provide a separate chord sheet as well as a fully transcribed part. Ellington's original bass parts were written as think-bass lines of notes on the first and third beats, mostly indicating mostly the harmonic roots, without chord symbols.
Guitar parts are provided only if present originally (in recordings before Fred Guy left in 1949). The parts are simple chord sheets with rhythmic figures added when appropriate. Ellington’s guitar parts only featured the underlying harmonies without consideration of the transient harmonies in the ensemble. An unamplified guitar is advisable.
For percussion parts I have avoided writing too much. Percussionists may wish to reproduce the 'military' swing style of Sonny Greer in order to perform earlier Ellington works in a period style. Greer feathered the bass drum on every beat, working on the hi-hat with plenty of articulation, and with less use of ride cymbals than is common today. His up-tempo swing is typified by rim knocks on two and four, or one-handed crush rolls or snare hits anticipating the fourth beat of alternate bars, and an individual style of crashes and splashes. Brushes were often used in up-tempo numbers.
Broadly speaking, solos belong to one of three categories:
Transcribed solos for multiple instruments may derive from different recordings of the pieces, the choice stemming from personal taste and ease of transcription. The solo transcriptions are not annotated in meticulous detail: it is better to refer to the recordings to understand the phrasing and style of the soloist.
An interesting feature of Ellington's scores is how he often chose different musicians to lead their section in different circumstances, changing the colour of the section. An example is the trumpets in . The third trumpet, Rex Stewart, leads the muted background figure instead of Wallace Jones, who later leads the entire brass ensemble. Similarly the lead sax would swap between Otto Hardwick and Johnny Hodges according to the colour and style of the figures in question. In other instances the reordering was solely for practical reasons: when he wanted a bass F in a trombone he had to assign the note to Lawrence Brown because Juan Tizol was using a valve trombone which was not capable of reaching a low F. Throughout the transcriptions I maintain the integrity of the original parts without indications of lead changes. The musicians can no doubt learn these or choose to reassign the parts as appropriate.