Band Formation

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by MickM, Apr 3, 2006.

  1. MickM

    MickM Member

    Just pondering, How does your band sit? We sit in a what i would call a "standard" set up, give or take which way round the horn/flugel section sits.

    Who decided that the cornets should be on the (conductors)left, trombones on the right etc?
    Has anybody tried any radical set ups?
  2. DaveR

    DaveR Active Member

    When I was at Pangbourne I used to have the cornets on my right, trombones in front of me, and everybody else on my left. That way, I could hear everyone clearly and even the shy and retiring players could be heard by the audience because all bells were facing outwards.....
  3. MickM

    MickM Member

    I think Dyke used a similar set up for part of their programme at a recent concert at Bridgewater Hall???
  4. tam-tam2

    tam-tam2 Member

    When we played at Regionals at the Brangwyn a few weeks ago (Voyage of Discovery-First Section) we played with front and back row cornets on the right with horns where the front row normally are and trombones where you normally have the back row felt really odd!!
  5. Rapier

    Rapier Supporting Member

    As a horn player I must protest on your bands horn players behalf!! It is illegal to have Trombones anywhere near a Horn Section! The Horn Players Protection Act of 1905 (sub section B, ammended 1907) clearly states, that there must always be at least one row of other instrumentation placed between the Horn section and the Trombone section, peferably two.
  6. Hornblower RN

    Hornblower RN Member

    ......and looked odd as well! Many years ago I recollect Cory playing a concert or a number in a big band formation...this was when the Major was at the helm. Personally I prefer the traditional set up.
  7. midwalesman

    midwalesman Member

    Dodgy positions

    Interesting topic. I can't remember radically altering our set-up at all. Perhaps placing the Euphs behind the horns and in front of the Basses.

    As for the original set-up there is a clear comparison with that of the symphony orchestra and its respective organisation. 19th century brass bands performed music/transcriptions from the orchestral or opera and since the classic orchestral set up has the leader, principal violinist and the principal tenor voice, the Cello on both the left and right side it would explain the reason why they appear like that in the brass band. The trombones are usually placed in an orchestra at the right hand rear as you look at them and the double basses are sometimes placed at the rear of the cellos. The main middle of filling in parts in band (no offence intended!) are the tenor horns and baritoners and in the orchestra the filling parts appear in the violas and second violins, who frequently appear in the middle two sections of the orchestra.

    Personally I think bands should be more flexible with their set ups when playing specific pieces, for example when playing Wilby's Jazz why not set up like a big band or when playing older harmonic stuff play with the euphs behind horns. Instead I think too much is made or traditional layouts, "we must play like this because if we change the seating it won't sound like a proper brass band!" kind of views! Much like with anything in banding.
  8. Liz Courts

    Liz Courts Active Member

    Lympstone and St Agnes both use the "standard" set-up, although St Agnes have altered the postioning of the horns, euph, and flugal a few times before.

    Lympstone went for a unique approach at the areas though! Having the front row cornets and horns in the usual place, the back row cornets opposite the front row cornets, and moving the euphs and baris to inbetween the trombones and basses. Apparrently this made the front and back row cornets play together better, and also "made more sense of the piece!" The only problem was the fact that we moved the percussion to behind the front row cornets to "balance it out a bit", and apparently it was too loud on the day...!! :rolleyes:

    Still came 2nd though, so it must've worked for us! :biggrin: :clap:
  9. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    I recall seeing Grimethorpe at Birmingham Town Hall some time in the 70s and they used several different formations during the concert quite effectively. There are certainly arguments for changing the set-up according to the music being played: if you've got a piece with antiphonal writing between the cornets, it makes more sense to place them either side of the band. Equally, placing the baritones and euphoniums in front of the basses can make them seem more of a unit, although the euphonium may need to project a little more for the sound to come across.

    I personally like to have the horns in front of the trombones, with the flugel on the end, as I feel it stops their sound being swamped as much, and allows for any interplay between flugel and solo cornet to have some spatial separation. That is more or less the formation we use at Hadleigh, although the shape of the hall and the size of the band means that we are more or less in extended arcs, with the solo cornets, horns and flugel in front, back row cornets, baritones & euphs in the middle, percussion behing the cornets, basses at the back and trombones behing the euphs.

    At Cambridge Heath at one stage Stewart experimented with a formation placing the basses at the side, largely because of the acoustics of the hall and the location of the band meaning the basses were otherwise directly beneath quite a low balcony, but it wasn't very satisfactory.
  10. Rapier

    Rapier Supporting Member

    Phil Harper likes to move Polysteel around for his more 'showy' pieces, with great effect.
  11. tinytimp

    tinytimp Member

    Burry Port sit in what you'd call the 'traditional' set-up. A fourth section band I played for a few years ago sat in quite a strange formation - horns in front of trombones with the flugel on the end and euphs/baris in front of the conductor where you'd normally expect to see the horns. Not quite sure why they did this, seems to be "the way it was done since the band started in 1847" or something...
  12. impycornet

    impycornet Member

    We've tried to get the percussion to set up in a separate room

    But it was no good - we could still hear them !
  13. Liz Courts

    Liz Courts Active Member

    That's the formation I like too. Especially having the flugal on the end - I've listened to some bands sitting the "traditional" way, with the flugal next to the solo horn, and sometimes the flugal can be a bit overpowering with the bell facing out towards the audience.

    St Agnes did this for a's a lot like the formation I prefer, but keeping the euphs and baris at the front...not sure why they did it, just to experiment I suppose!!
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2006
  14. persins

    persins Member

    Torbay always used to set up like that when I was playing for them.
    Lympstone also had a bizarre one a couple of time when I played for them too. We had an inner circle of just front row and horns, with flugel opposite Principal Cornet. Then had back row, baris, eups and Troms on the next cirle with Basses at the back with Percussion on each side. I seem to remember playing Royal Parks like that and winning by a Devon Mile at Weston!!

    In my other bands, the only real formation issue is where to sit the flugel and whether the solo horn sits to the right or left of the section!!!
  15. Rebel Tuba

    Rebel Tuba Member

    With Torbay we once played the basses down the right behind the trombones. Its just so difficult to get people to accept that sometimes a different formation.
  16. tubafran

    tubafran Active Member

    Killamarsh have euphs & baris in front of basses with flugel/horns in front of trombones then curving round to bottom of front row cornets in front of baris- cornets and troms in usual position.

    We used to have the euphs/baris in front of the troms and horns in front of basses but I much prefer the euphs in front. Only other change would be "swing/big band" concerts when we get basses and troms to swop, move all cornets behind troms, horns & flugel where front cornets would normally be and euph/baris where back row cornets where.

    A few years ago we had horns then euphs/baris then basses all in front of conductor and troms and cornets either side as per normal.

    BBSBB have horns in front of basses and euphs/baris in front of troms.
  17. barrytone

    barrytone Member

    Some of the top bands have changed positions during test pieces at contests, it's enough having to play the part for me without having to remember where I should me moving to! A friend of mine who plays in the championship section, tells me that they adopt the standard seating plan,ie. cornets to the left, horns/flugel in front with basses behind and euphs/baris to right with troms behind, for most concerts.

    However come to contests and different test pieces and they shuffle seats in the band until they get the balance and sounds the conductor wants. Bit of flexibility can't do any harm, but wouldn't like to be changing places during a contest.
  18. honey bun

    honey bun Active Member

    We did something similar - horns & flug on the back row - front & back row in semicircle in front of MD-euphs & baris behind them-basses & troms normal - it does feel really odd and you hear different sounds from where you normally sit.
  19. ian perks

    ian perks Active Member

    We sit with horns in front of trombs and flug just in front of solo trom
    Euphs &Baris:biggrin: in front of Basses

    The traditional set up with Euphs &Baris in front of trombs i cant stand and never been able to either :mad:
  20. Mrs Fruity

    Mrs Fruity Member

    I think we play in what's generally known as the "Grimethorpe Formation". I'm used to sitting like that now, although at first I missed the sound of the 2nd bari in my left ear, and find it very strange to sit any other way now. Our formation at Brass in Concert felt strange at first too - separate mellows and brights- but felt right by the time of the contest (just thank goodness I wasn't one of those standing for the whole programme ;) ). Having sat in many, many different formations over the years (Atlantic at the Masters being the strangest!) I think a player's ear can get used to anything. An audience's ear may be a different matter.

    PS. Is the standard formation but with the euphs/baris in front of the basses and behind the horns known as the Australian formation, or has someone sold me a dummy at some time in the past?????
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2006

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