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Topic: Marching Piccolos

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  1. #1

    Marching Piccolos

    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

  2. #2

    Lightbulb Re: Marching Piccolos

    Quote Originally Posted by cptexas
    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
    ==============================
    Grant Green ||| www.contrabass.com
    Sarrusophones and other seismic devices

  3. #3

    Re: Marching Piccolos

    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. Getting a little annoying now...

    -Chris

  4. #4

    Smile Re: Marching Piccolos

    Quote Originally Posted by cptexas
    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. Getting a little annoying now...

    -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

    Speaking of the S&SF, I have a recording of our band (the San Jose Wind Symphony) playing the S&SF with Patrick Sheridan playing the piccolo part - on TUBA!
    ==============================
    Grant Green ||| www.contrabass.com
    Sarrusophones and other seismic devices

  5. #5

    Re: Marching Piccolos

    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.

  6. #6

    Re: Marching Piccolos

    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.

    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

  7. #7

    Re: Marching Piccolos

    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!

  8. #8

    Thumbs up Re: Marching Piccolos

    Quote Originally Posted by Dargason
    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

  9. #9

    Re: Marching Piccolos

    Or even better, borrow from the themes and motifs of other pieces!

  10. #10

    Re: Marching Piccolos

    Quote Originally Posted by Dargason
    Or even better, borrow from the themes and motifs of other pieces!
    Uhhh... wouldn't that seem a bit random and out of place?

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