PDA

View Full Version : Marching Piccolos



cptexas
03-23-2006, 03:54 PM
Marches often have that fluttering, playful piccolo part on top of the more serious march melody, and I'm seeking to learn more about these parts.

How do you write one? OK, vague question, I know, but do you just throw together a bunch of trills and arpegios and scales that match the chords of the march theme, or is there some kind of formula, or technique? How do you do it?

-Chris

GDG
03-23-2006, 04:14 PM
Marches often have that fluttering, playful piccolo part on top of the more serious march melody, and I'm seeking to learn more about these parts.

How do you write one? OK, vague question, I know, but do you just throw together a bunch of trills and arpegios and scales that match the chords of the march theme, or is there some kind of formula, or technique? How do you do it?

-Chris

Consider the piccolo obligato as just another melody: write it to fit the chords, and to fit with the main melody (and countermelodies) below it. To have it ring out over the rest of the band, keep the written range above the treble staff (the low register will disappear into the flute & clarinet timbre).

And remember to write only for piccolo in C - the Db piccolo is an antique that is not widely used.

Enjoy,

Grant

cptexas
03-24-2006, 06:47 AM
So it's just like any other counterpoint melody but usually with trills and stuff and is really fluttery and playful?
Because of this curiosity of mine I've had the Stars and Stripes Forever stuck in my head, with the piccolo part really sticking out. :p Getting a little annoying now... :D

-Chris

GDG
04-17-2006, 05:40 PM
So it's just like any other counterpoint melody but usually with trills and stuff and is really fluttery and playful?
Because of this curiosity of mine I've had the Stars and Stripes Forever stuck in my head, with the piccolo part really sticking out. :p Getting a little annoying now... :D

-Chris

Yep, depending, of course, on the mood you want. By the time the piccolo obbligato usually comes in, you're usually looking to increase the energy of the piece. Lots of rapid motion is good for that :D

Speaking of the S&SF, I have a recording of our band (the San Jose Wind Symphony (http://www.sjws.org)) playing the S&SF with Patrick Sheridan playing the piccolo part - on TUBA! :eek:

CallMeZoot
04-17-2006, 06:07 PM
A trick I learned from a composition teacher when I was in high school. To write a descant, just take the alto part up an octave or two, and make some embellishments.

The marching piccolo thing is very similar to a descant, so if you're writing tonal music, this might be a good starting point. Take whatever line is right below the main melody--especially if it's a harmonizing line, like the melody doubled in 3rds or 6ths, and pop it way up into the piccolo range, add some fluffy trills and runs and fast arpeggios to taste, and voila, there you have it.

Eventually you'll probably want to be a little less formulaic, but I bet this would be a quick and dirty way to practice getting the results you're looking for.

let me know how this works out,
chris.

cptexas
04-19-2006, 05:48 AM
Piccolo part on TUBA??? Geez... reminds me of an organ concert at Radio City where the organist played that part on the pedals, but had it set up so that the pedals were in the piccolo range. :eek:

Thanks, Chris, for your reply. I've played with taking up the alto and tenor lines, but never thought of them as a piccolo obligato. Thanks for the info. I'll have to try it.

-Chris

Dargason
04-19-2006, 12:32 PM
A piccolo obbligato is also a great place to have some fun with your thematic material - borrow from themes and motifs that occur elsewhere in the piece!

cptexas
04-19-2006, 03:02 PM
A piccolo obbligato is also a great place to have some fun with your thematic material - borrow from themes and motifs that occur elsewhere in the piece!
Good idea!
Thanks for adding to the thoughts here.
-Chris

Dargason
04-20-2006, 12:45 AM
Or even better, borrow from the themes and motifs of other pieces! :rolleyes:

cptexas
04-20-2006, 05:47 AM
Or even better, borrow from the themes and motifs of other pieces! :rolleyes:
Uhhh... wouldn't that seem a bit random and out of place? :confused:

CallMeZoot
04-20-2006, 02:24 PM
Nothing sounds out of place if you do it right!

chris.

dpajalic
04-24-2006, 08:31 PM
You will have to note a few things:

1. piccolo (written) sounds one octave higher than the flute and most likely will be two octaves or more above the other material.
Having a crisp and very distinctive coulour, plus playing above the other instrument(s) it will be well recognised. Piccolo is the most acute of all the instruments epmployed in the modern orchestra and attains the extreme limits of the highest register.. Its medium register - very commonly used - lies two octaves abouve the good notes of the normal female voice (such as Mezzo-Soprano).
Piano dynamics and piccolo don't go togheter! Someone said - "whoever invents the mute for piccolo will do a great favor to this esquisite instrument!".

2. Piccollo is a virtuoso isntrument - anything on flute will work on piccollo.
3. Passing notes are very rewarding (in exaple melody CEG - piccollo CD EF G - respective rhythm!)
4. Diatonic and chromatic runs very effective - Trills - very efective

5. Great classics will treat piccolo as an accessory - mostly for special effects.
Some classical examples:
Beethoven - C minor Symphony Finale, Pastoral Symphony, the last movement of the 9th Symphony.
Haydn - The Seasons
(THese are avaialbel in puboic libnraries if you don't have them), but also see Shostakovich, Meyerbeer (Les Hugenotes) etc.

Yours

Dubravko

Frodo
06-07-2006, 04:44 PM
CPTexas, just wondering how your piccolo writing is coming along. It so happens I am a flautist/piccolo player and would be happy to look over your piccolo part if you would like and/or answer any questions you may have regarding the mechanics of the instrument, what is possible or not, etc. from a performer's point of view.

GDG
06-07-2006, 04:58 PM
So it's just like any other counterpoint melody but usually with trills and stuff and is really fluttery and playful?
Because of this curiosity of mine I've had the Stars and Stripes Forever stuck in my head, with the piccolo part really sticking out. :p Getting a little annoying now... :D

-Chris
The S&SF is probably the best-known work on piccolo. If I remember right, the high notes in the obligato go up to the 2nd Ab above the staff. The high Ab trill is very awkward - the part was originally written for the (now extinct) Db piccolo, and trilling high G is much easier.

Because the piccolo timbre is so distinctive (and because there won't be anything else playing near its range), you can get away with wide skips too.

Enjoy,

Grant