Photo by Charlie Grosso

Key differences between Adaptable and Flex:


Adaptable arrangements (the more flexible of the two types) require only 4 instruments—moreover, these can be any four instruments. Thus, each adaptable arrangement becomes a collection of quartets for any 4 (or more) instruments. This means, for example, a sectional rehearsal can play the entire work with only flutes, or only trumpets, and so on. You can also "mix and match," e.g., flute and clarinet on voice 1, alto sax and trumpet on voice 2, tenor sax on voice 3, trombone and/or tuba on voice 4. The number of possibilities is virtually endless. Adaptable arrangements are especially useful if your instrumentation varies or is uncertain, or if you just want to have fun playing a familiar work with only 4 (or many more) players, and for creating virtual ensembles. And, hard to believe but true: every instrument has at its disposal all 4 voices. (Percussion is  optional and included.) But:


Flex arrangements require a range of at least 5 or 6 instruments, starting (for example) with flute, or clarinet, or trumpet, etc., at the treble end -- down to (for example) bass clarinet, or trombone, or euphonium, or tuba, at the bass end. This can result in a fuller sound that is closer to an original arrangement for full band. Flex might be less useful for sectional rehearsals than adaptable. If you have a small band with, let's say, a weird assortment of instruments (e.g., 10 clarinets, 1 trombone, and so on), you may find adaptable gives you greater freedom to balance the sound. But if your small band is more reasonably arrayed, flex will get you to a full band sound quicker and with less experimentation. And if you are an orchestra, flex is the only way to go. (Again, percussion is optional and included.)

11. All right now, I don’t want to be mean, but, could I put, say, Horn in the soprano voice (the melody) and three clarinets under the Horn?

Answer: Well, yes, you could. It would sound different, with the melody under the harmony, but, yes, Ticheli has structured the music so that it would still work even if the melody is lower than the accompaniment. That’s where the creativity of the director comes to play.


12. So I can get creative then?

Answer: Let’s say you have 8 instruments in the room. You can experiment and try different combinations of which instrument or instruments plays which voice.


13. So, everybody plays all the time then?

Answer: If there are only 4 players, then, generally yes. But say you have more than 4, then you can vary the orchestration of the work by having certain players rest while others play.


14. And my percussionists — is there something for them to do?

Answer: The original percussion parts are provided for Joy for Adaptable Band (that’s Timpani plus 3 players); Simple Gifts will vary movement by movement.


15. But I have eight percussionists in my band. How do I keep them occupied?

Answer, there’s no reason you couldn’t put your extra percussionists on mallets playing any of the Voices for instruments in C. Said another way, you could have mallets doubling all four of the Flute/Oboe voices.


16. Can I post my performances online, say on YouTube and and my school’s site?

Answer: Yes, there is no licensing fee to do so (synchronization license is gratis and automatic).

17. We’re meeting only virtually, so can I do this with a virtual ensemble (where the players are at home, all in “boxes” on-screen)?

Answer: Ditto that — Yes you can do this, there is no licensing fee to do so (synchronization license is gratis and automatic).


18. And I can email the parts to the players, and they can print them out; or I can print them out and mail them?

Answer: Yes, all of that is fine — the music is supplied as pdf files, and not on paper.


19. Where can I find the adaptable band music?

Answer: It’s for sale as immediately-downloadable pdfs on the Manhattan Beach Music website and from you music retailer.


20. And I see you also have works for flex band. Is that different?

Yes. The Adaptable Band music requires a minimum of ANY four players (plus optional percussion).

The Flex Band/Flex Orchestra music requires a minimum of 5 – 6 players, which must include both treble and bass instruments (plus optional percussion).

Want learn how other composers are creating such works? Visit the creative repertoire


21. What about conductor scores for contest?

Answer: Print as many as you like for the judges. No extra charge. You can print them for your friends too, that's fine!

Adaptable and Flex Band FAQ:


1. What is Adaptable Band — and why now?

Answer: As bands re-form this Summer and Fall (this is referring to 2021), many schools may, for social distancing reasons, dramatically limit the number of players. Frank Ticheli is arranging certain of his works so they can be played by any number of players, starting with four. And now (this is referring to 2024) there are still many smaller programs that can hugely benefit from these settings for reduced forces.


2. How can that be?

Answer: Ticheli has kept the original music of his works, but orchestrated the music into just 4 voices.


3. You mean Joy is now a quartet? Simple Gifts?

Answer: Not exactly. Joy and the other adaptable works can be performed as quartet, or any number of instruments greater than a quartet.


4. So, then, the treble instruments are taking the higher voices, and the lower winds and brass have the lower music?

Answer: Not necessarily. It’s more versatile than that. Read on.


5. OK then, how does this work?

Answer: Every instrument has four possible parts from which to play, from Voice 1 (“soprano”) down to Voice 4 (“bass”).


6. So that means I can perform one of Ticheli's adaptable works as a flute quartet, you’ve provided the parts for that?

Answer: Yes, that would work fine.


7. How about as a sax quartet, or a trumpet quartet?

Answer: Yes, those too. Parts are provided to perform the work in those ways. You can perform the work with any four instruments


8. So it’s fair to say, then, that each instrument can perform the work in a “sectional” meeting of, say, all clarinets, or all winds, or all horns, or all brass?

Answer: Yes, you can do that.


9. OK OK. I get it. Or, do I? How about if I want to mix the winds and brass, say: Clarinet, Alto Sax, Trumpet, Trombone. Would that work?

Answer: Absolutely. (And you don’t necessarily need to have Clarinet playing the top voice — you could have Alto Sax there instead.) How about: Tenor Sax, Horn, Euphonium, Tuba? I can do that? Answer: Yes, that too.


10. So, any combination of any instruments?

Answer: Yes, any combination of any instruments. 4 Tubas. 2 Trombones and 2 Tubas. 2 Flutes and 2 Clarinets. 2 Horns and 2 Trombones. You name it, the parts are there to do that.








Announcing Frank Ticheli’s

Adaptable & Flex Band & Orchestra Series

Exclusively available as Instant PDF downloads






AMAZING GRACE - for flex band or flex orchestra with optional vocals

IN C-DORIAN - for 3 to 300 players, or singers

CAJUN FOLK SONGS: BELLE - for adaptable band

EARTH SONG - for flex band or flex orchestra

JOY - for adaptable band

LOCH LOMOND - for flex band or flex orchestra, arr. Robert J. Ambrose

PORTRAIT OF A CLOWN - for adaptable band

SIMPLE GIFTS: FOUR SHAKER SONGS - for adaptable band

VESUVIUS - for flex band or flex orchestra





Some ways to use Adaptable music:




• Just 4 players? Assign the 4 parts, and then vary the assignment of parts so that each player tries out playing the melody, an inner line, and bass.


• More than 4 players? Have fun varying the orchestration: Who doubles? Who tacets — when do players drop out & in?


• Fewer than 4 players? Experiment with duets and trios.


• Players insecure? Have all play the same voice, together.




• Phone apps are available to create a virtual ensemble of any number of voices.


• 4 people can play 4 parts and then multitrack more parts (record more voices).


• For only 2 players, try voice 1 (melody) and voice 4 (bass line). A single player could multitrack all 4 parts (or two players could record two parts each).