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Topic: Piece for Brass Sextet and Orchestra

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  1. #1
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    Piece for Brass Sextet and Orchestra

    It’s been a while since I’ve posted music here, but I just finished this and want some thoughts… Here’s the story:

    So, I got to play with the Yankee Brass Band this past summer as a humble drummer amongst the “brassers”… It was a great experience playing on an 1830’s bass drum (that had actually been to the Civil War) and hearing Coronets, Alto horns, Tenor Horns, and tubas from the 1860’s and that era. During the concerts, there was a piece performed by a brass sextet and I feel in love with the sound. It was also explained during the concerts how brass bands were part of Regiments during the American Civil War and played as the troops marched into battle, and, for many, into certain death.

    I thought this was fascinating and was inspired to work on this piece using a brass sextet playing some of the old pieces played by civil war brass bands and juxtapose it against a “modern orchestra”. Based on this concept, it is entitled “Walk Through The Valley”.

    The piece opens with a variation of “Dixie”, followed by a piece as performed by the Manchester Brass Band of New Hampshire called “Wake Up Mose”. This goes briefly into “Tenting Tonight On the Old Campground” and moves quickly into the beautiful Civil War Era Ballad “Thou Art Gone From My Gaze”. From there the piece goes into and finishes with Henry Clay Works’ “Kingdom Coming / The Year of Jubilo”. I tried to stick as close to original style for the sextet, but the orchestra, is more 20th Century (I think).

    For this piece, I envision the brass sextet out in front of the Orchestra, and wow – taking away any intonation issues, wouldn’t it be nice to actually have it performed with REAL period instruments (Eb Coronet, Bb Coronet, Alto Horns, Tenor Horn and Tuba). Currently, the sextet is scored for 2 Trumpets, 2 French Horns, Baritone (can’t WAIT for GPOA!) and Tuba. The piece is all GPO and Overture 4 and uses Garritan Ambience for reverb.

    It is a bit lengthy at around 7:32, but if you find time, please give it a listen and help me with any ideas on mix / sound, should it be a Suite instead of an Overture to better expand on the variations?, etc. It would be greatly appreciated.

    Regards,

    Tim
    http://www.mydocsonline.com/pub/tcoh...im%20Cohen.mp3
    Last edited by tcohen; 02-02-2006 at 06:49 PM. Reason: Messed up URL

  2. #2

    Re: Piece for Brass Sextet and Orchestra

    An absolutely superb arrangement and orchestration, Tim!

    I'm going to make two very minor comments on the mix.

    One, I think perhaps the overall dynamic range may be a bit broad... the softer sections seemed perhaps too far down, to me; as I had to fiddle the volume to hear them well. A caution on this -- my ears aren't the best.

    Two, may I suggest listening on headphones. Not an extreme case, but there are a few small instances where the mix might be (slightly!) too wide. The one that "hit" me was the violin pizzicato entry at 1:14. Mind you, this mix is excellent, so I'm only suggesting very, very minor tweaking.

    Listened through this several times, Tim. Impressively fine job on this!

    My applause!

    David
    www.DavidSosnowski.com
    .

  3. #3
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    Re: Piece for Brass Sextet and Orchestra

    One, I think perhaps the overall dynamic range may be a bit broad... the softer sections seemed perhaps too far down, to me; as I had to fiddle the volume to hear them well. A caution on this -- my ears aren't the best.

    Two, may I suggest listening on headphones. Not an extreme case, but there are a few small instances where the mix might be (slightly!) too wide. The one that "hit" me was the harp entry at 1:14. Mind you, this mix is excellent, so I'm only suggesting very, very minor tweaking.
    David,

    Thanks for the listen, and yeah, I know what you mean about the "width" of the dynamics. I wrote it trying to use proper dynamics, but even in the car, it can be difficult hearing the softer passages and then contending with the louder ones. Do you think using a limiter or some sort of light compression would be beeter for this?

    Also, at 1:14, it is a loud hit, and probably needs more work because it's actually a violin pizzicato hit, not a harp. I'll revisit those after my ears have a rest from the piece.

    Thanks SOOO much for taking the time to listen and provide me with your comments. It really helps having other ears to help with ideas.

    Regards,

    Tim

  4. #4

    Re: Piece for Brass Sextet and Orchestra

    Harp, violin pizzicato -- see, told you my ears weren't the greatest... lol. Swore that was a harp.

    Know what you mean about resting your ears... and so do most, here. You really get deaf to your own work from hearing it over and over and over.

    On dynamics... "proper" isn't necessarily "right" when you're working with software-based sounds and, I presume, notation software -- in that you're working from a different point of reference than you would be with a live orchestra.

    In software libraries, the dynamic is relative to the individual instrument.

    In a live orchestra, the dynamic is relative to the orchestra as a whole.

    For instance, any conductor or orchestral player readily knows that an oboe is no competition for a trumpet, dynamically. They adjust for that, compensate.

    But in software, you may, for example, need two different forte markings for the oboe and the trumpet, reflective of the difference in their relative strength within an ensemble.

    Best,

    David.
    .

  5. #5

    Re: Piece for Brass Sextet and Orchestra

    Tim,

    This is just wonderful. What an excellent brass rendering. You certainly succeeded in juxtaposing the brass band and the orchestra. It has the fullness, richness, and excitement of the period.

    Bravo,

    Karl

  6. #6

    Re: Piece for Brass Sextet and Orchestra

    Hi Tim
    Just had a listen to your piece and really enjoyed it from all angles. Like all the rhythmic ideas a lot and the orchestration is terrific. In particular, the brass sextet writing is very effective and the lower brass really shine in the latter part of the piece. Very enjoyable! Congrats.
    Paul
    Mac Pro 2X2.8 Ghz Quad-Core Intel Xenon, 10Gb 800 MHz DDR2 FB-DIMM, OS10.6.4, Finale 2011, Digital Performer 7.1, Altiverb 6, Yamaha S90, Built-in audio, GPO, JABB, Garritan Authorized Steinway (Pro), Reason 3, M-Audio Ozone, Giovani, Symphonic Choirs, Kontakt 2, Vienna Symphonic Library. Website:http://www.paulread.ca

  7. #7
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    Re: Piece for Brass Sextet and Orchestra

    In software libraries, the dynamic is relative to the individual instrument.

    In a live orchestra, the dynamic is relative to the orchestra as a whole.

    For instance, any conductor or orchestral player readily knows that an oboe is no competition for a trumpet, dynamically. They adjust for that, compensate.

    But in software, you may, for example, need two different forte markings for the oboe and the trumpet, reflective of the difference in their relative strength within an ensemble
    David very true and an excellent observation - I have noticed that "normal" dynamics (that may work for concert band or orchestra) are not necessarily the best for the software settings. I just had a march I wrote performed by a concert band - and I had to re-do all the dynamics during rehearsals because the setttings I did using GPO and Overture did not translate correctly into the "real" band. Thanks again!

    Karl -

    Yes it was an exciting period and brass was king. Thanks very much for listening and your comments!

    Regards,

    Tim

    Paul -
    When I was writing this, I have a friend who is a tuba player who really wanted some exciting playing - I was thinking of him when I wrote those latter brass sections. Thanks so much for the comments!

    Regards,

    Tim

  8. #8

    Re: Piece for Brass Sextet and Orchestra

    Excellent writing, Mr. Tim!

    I love brass groups. I was an instrumentalist (baritone)/composer/arranger for groups like this in my younger days. This brings back pleasant memories.

    Thanks for letting us hear this.

    LGA
    Larry G. Alexander
    www.alexandermusic.com

  9. #9
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    Re: Piece for Brass Sextet and Orchestra

    Tim,
    This is wonderful. You have done a great job with your concept. The melding of sextet and orchestra is seamless and your orchestra part complimented the period pieces quite well. I'm on a second listen as I write this and I really like it.
    Quote Originally Posted by tcohen
    (can’t WAIT for GPOA!)
    Amen!


    Bill
    Never look at the trombones. It only encourages them. Richard Strauss

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  10. #10
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    Re: Piece for Brass Sextet and Orchestra

    Larry - the guru of the listening room - thanks so much for taking the time to listen and comment - brass bands are wonderful! Baritone players are usually whacky (as are most lower brass and percussionists!)


    Bill,Thanks for listening and your comments - I hope GPOA is not delayed too much - I am SO looking forward to it.

    Regards,

    Tim

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