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Topic: Brass Band

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  1. #1

    Brass Band

    While we're asking random questions about GPO-A... will it contain Brass Band instrumentation?

    By "Brass Band," I'm referring to the British concept of brass band, which has been a steadilly growing movement in the USA. "Standard" instrumentation is:

    One E flat Soprano Cornet
    Four B flat Solo Cornets
    Two B flat Second Cornets
    Two B flat Third Cornets
    One B flat Repiano Cornet
    One B flat Flugelhorn
    Three E flat Tenor Horns (Solo, First and Second)
    Two B flat Baritones
    Two B flat Euphoniums
    Two B flat Tenor Trombones
    One Bass Trombone
    Two E flat Tubas
    Two B flat Tubas
    Three Percussionists -- Timpani, battery, and mallets are standard for almost all compositions.

    I've experienced a lot of frustration trying to mimick the sound of Brass Band instrumentation with GPO. SOmetimes I can get close, but usually not.

    A good Brass Band library would be a good thing.

    D.
    "He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds"
    --Psalm 147:3

  2. #2

    Re: Brass Band

    And lets not forget the Gb Obligato Stritch and the Profundo Retro-Clarinetto with the F extension.



    Personally, I'd rather see this and some of the other (Marching Band) suggestions in another product more suited for them. And, for that matter, I'd like to see GPO-A before 2015 which is where it'd be headed if all this got added in. And you have to understand where Gary is as well. I'm sure there has to be a good idea on his end that the product will be marketable. So I don't know even as an extension, would this be something worthwhile for him. But, Brass Band Lovers Unite, and who knows? Maybe as another module later. I'd still hate to see GPO-A bloated up with Marching Band and Brass Band stuff. I think it should follow more traditional orchestral fare and there's still many articulations and things that GPO could benefit from and I'd like to see that sort of thing covered first.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Styxx's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Re: Brass Band

    Yeah, what J.B. said but as long as it includes Large and Small Flexitone!
    Styxx

  4. #4

    Re: Brass Band

    I heard a military marching band play yesterday at the big local Fourth of July celebration. Yuk! The pieces they chose were simplistic in every way... The textures were simple, the rhythms were simple, the dynamics were simple, the chord progressions were simple. And they played without soul. There was this undercurrent of fearful restraint in their playing.

    The thing was, the performers weren't all that bad. But what a waste of musicians! The band director seemed to have the imagination of a pea.

    Here's the thing... The band was seated. The audience was on the lawn. No one was marching anywhere. So why did they only play marches?

    I don't mean to insult the brass band people here. But please, don't go so narrow with your music as these guys did. One more measure of cymbals playing straight quarter notes might just send me over the edge!

    -JF

  5. #5
    Senior Member Styxx's Avatar
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    Re: Brass Band

    One more measure of cymbals playing straight quarter notes might just send me over the edge!
    And to think, most of us percussionist paid through the nose for lessons and have experienced this very exact execution! Like waiting through a whole symphony to play one strike on a triangle!
    Styxx

  6. #6

    Re: Brass Band

    Quote Originally Posted by JonFairhurst
    Here's the thing... The band was seated. The audience was on the lawn. No one was marching anywhere. So why did they only play marches?
    Because that's what military bands do. They play in a lot of situations where they're background -- they deliberately don't call attention to themselves. I recall listening to the military band that played at Ronald Reagan's funeral as hundreds (or perhaps thousands) of dignitaries, family, and friends filed past the gravesite following the service. I developed a profound respectfor that band as musicians after I heard them play the hymn "Abide With Me" for about the 15th time (they had a list of hymns that they rotated through). The 15th time sounded just like the first -- precise, controlled, respectful and dignified -- setting an atmosphere without calling attention to themselves or diverting attention from the primary event. My Brass Band plays Abide With Me -- the very same arrangement, actually -- as a warm-up and disciplinary excercise. It takes an incredible amount of focus and discipline to play so consistently in the background. It's the same kind of discipline that's the backbone of all strong military outfits.

    I don't mean to insult the brass band people here. But please, don't go so narrow with your music as these guys did. One more measure of cymbals playing straight quarter notes might just send me over the edge!

    -JF
    No insult taken. But, perhaps you don't fully understand and appreciate the Brass Band medium.

    Marches are part of the standard, traditional fare of the 4th of July. Our band played a concert on Sunday the 3rd, in Hot Springs, Arkansas. We included many of the traditional marches, like Semper Fidelis, Hail to the Spirit of Liberty, and The Stars ands Stripes Forever. We opened with March Patriotica, with a smooth, seamless segue to William Hines' stirring arrangement of The Star Spangled Banner. Trust me, it was NOT bland, flatline, or boring!!

    We did, however, play more than marches. Like, for example, Harry James' Trumpet Blues and Cantabile, arranged for 4 Bb cornets and one Eb Soprano cornet. Duke Ellington's Do Nothing Til You Hear From Me. Gershwin's Summertime, featuring our Solo Horn player. And a lot more.

    But, you'd be surprised how much passion and energy can be found in something as seemingly ordinary as a march. Really!

    D.
    "He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds"
    --Psalm 147:3

  7. #7

    Re: Brass Band

    Quote Originally Posted by dancase
    No insult taken. But, perhaps you don't fully understand and appreciate the Brass Band medium.
    It's safe to say that I don't really appreciate the medium. I played in marching bands as a kid, and my own kids have played in school brass bands. It all comes down to the quality of the composition, orchestration, and the energy/style of the director and musicians. Unfortunately, I just don't resonate with much of the canon. I'm not sure why. Possibly, because I find it too predictable and regimented.

    On the other hand, play some of the passages from The Planets with the same instrumentation used in a Brass Band (written with no or minimal strings), and I can be enthralled. Then again, the local high school brass band played Vivaldi's Spring at graduation, and I was physically nauseated. Some things are best left for their original instruments!

    We did, however, play more than marches. Like, for example, Harry James' Trumpet Blues and Cantabile, arranged for 4 Bb cornets and one Eb Soprano cornet. Duke Ellington's Do Nothing Til You Hear From Me. Gershwin's Summertime, featuring our Solo Horn player. And a lot more.

    But, you'd be surprised how much passion and energy can be found in something as seemingly ordinary as a march. Really!
    Sounds like a great program. And there's no doubt that a good march can be played with passion - especially a slow, funeral march.

    It's unfortunate that the band I heard yesterday sounded like they were playing in straight jackets. For whatever reason, I find bad or uninspired brass band music to be oppressive. It's literally a physical response for me.

    I wish I had heard your band's performance instead. I'd probably be in a totally different frame of mind today!

    -JF

  8. #8
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    Re: Brass Band

    Quote Originally Posted by dancase
    By "Brass Band," I'm referring to the British concept of brass band, which has been a steadilly growing movement in the USA. A good Brass Band library would be a good thing.

    D.
    Glad to hear that the British style brass band is on the up in the US. Here in the UK (and especially in the north-west where I live) brass bands of the type you refer to are part of the fabric of society.
    The musicianship and skills of the players in the top bands (and there are LOTS of them) is second to none. And I mean absolutely second to none. Many of the top orchestral brass players began life in brass bands (some retain their membership too). You can take a full time degree at music college or some universites on band instruments, conducting, composing etc.
    Of course brass bands play marches but there are marches and Marches. The skill required to play some of the contest marches is unbelievably high, and the thrill of hearing a top quality band playing a top quality march can be awe-inspiring. Much orchestral music has been transcribed for the brass band and again the skill and interpretation can match that of anything heard at a traditional orchestral concert. Indeed many established serious composers have written and still do for the medium.
    Of course the tonal variations which a brass band has in it's palette can't begin to rival a full blown orchestra, but all the more reason to marvel at the sounds a good band can make.
    I appreciate that Gary can't cater for everyone's tastes or needs and I'm more than grateful for what he's provided us with. I do wish though that someone would do a library of brass band sounds - I'd buy it tomorrow - along with thousands of others in this neck of the woods!
    For those that don't know what a brass band (of the UK variety) sounds like, here's a link to some snippets by a decent band - WilliamsFairey Band - there's a variety of stuff - some better than others according to your taste but at least you'll get an idea of the sound produced and some of the capabilities of this wonderful medium. Don't forget too that the vast majority of (if not all) the players are amateur men and women of all ages.

    http://www.williamsfaireyband.co.uk/...downloads.html
    Hope it tickles your fancy,
    John

  9. #9

    Re: Brass Band

    Quote Originally Posted by JonFairhurst
    It's unfortunate that the band I heard yesterday sounded like they were playing in straight jackets.
    That's the traditional nature of a military band -- very controlled and disciplined -- one reason why I would never cut it in the military.

    My wife, who was a Navy wife in her first marriage, says that if I had joined the Navy as a young man there would be a brig somewhere named after me!!

    D.
    "He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds"
    --Psalm 147:3

  10. #10

    Re: Brass Band

    Quote Originally Posted by mistersynth
    Glad to hear that the British style brass band is on the up in the US. Here in the UK (and especially in the north-west where I live) brass bands of the type you refer to are part of the fabric of society.
    When I first started playing with NSBB, I did quite a bit of study on the history and tradition of the British Brass Band. It is, indeed, a part of the fabric of society in much of the UK. The fascinating thing is that it's a very "blue collar" sort of tradition -- just as sons followed in their fathers' footsteps to work in the coal mines, they followed then to the band room to play in the Colliery Band. The concept of such masterful musicianship eminating from the working class is one that I'd love to stuff into the upturned noses of a lot of snooty classical-music people that I've worked with over the years (I just don't "do" snooty!). NSBB (the band I'm in) follows in the tradition of a fully-volunteer band. Our personnel are from as varied a background as can be -- including a judge, the Dean of a law school, several teachers, several construction workers, a couple of engineers, a welder, and a high school student. When we're in the band, what we do "out there" becomes trivial, as we share our passion for the music and grow together into better musicians.

    One of the things that's fascinated me about the medium is the incredible range of sound that's possible with the Brass Band's instrumentation. With the proper application of dynamics and the right blend of horns, I've heard sounds that you wouldn't think possible. One thing that we're constantly being taught is the importance of dynamics in brass band music... it can literally be the difference between a top Chamionship band and a band that's painful to listen to. The more I listen to and play in brass bands, the more I appreciate the medium and the more vision I have for it's possibilities.

    And yes, Brass Bands are growing here in the states. NABBA (North American Brass Band Association) has around 50 bands in its membership, and there are several that I know of that aren't NABBA members. NABBA has been sponsoring annual Championships (competitions) since 1983. Two of our member bands will be representing us overseas this year -- The Chicago Brass Band will be competing in July at the World Brass Band Competition in Kerkrade, Holland and the Brass Band of Central Florida will be competing at The British Open in September. Meanwhile, back here in the states, bands will be playing for high school band camps and school band director's organizations, trying to stir up more interest in the medium. Once they hear what a collection of brass players can do, the excitement is contagious!

    D.
    "He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds"
    --Psalm 147:3

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