Brass Band Arrangements

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Jay, Apr 28, 2007.

  1. Jay

    Jay Member

    Don't some of them just make you shudder?

    For example, I have a recording of Grimethorpe (or it might be Black Dyke...I can't remember) playing a brass band arrangement of Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody no 2. Absolutely incredible playing...but it just made me cringe!! Is it just me or will some things just NEVER work as ensemble arrangements? For me I'll never get the same buzz out of listening to something like the Liszt with a brass band playing as I do whilst playing it myself or listening to piano recording of it.

    Another example would be an arrangement of Rhapsody in Blue that I once played...the piano cadenzas etc just don't work for me when played by brass or wind instruments, and I could name many more...Debussy's La Fille aux Cheveux de Lin and Mussorgsky's Great Gate of Kiev (although the Ravel orchestral arrangement is wonderful) simply don't work with brass bands, no matter how good the playing is!!

    And it's not just piano pieces...I thought that Bohemian Rhapsody was SLAUGHTERED as a brass band arrangement!!!

    Anyone agree/disagree?
  2. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    I feel it really depends on how well you know the original work and performances. Someone who doesn't have that information may not notice anything untoward in the brass band version.
  3. Jacob Larsen

    Jacob Larsen Member

    Well it depends a great deal n the arranger and the conductor & band....
  4. Shaggy

    Shaggy New Member

    The bottom line is some work and some dont. Having said that, I think we all have our predjudices when it comes to Brass Band arrangements, the problem is the brass band repertiore is so diverse, one is spoilt for choice!

    Personally I think any attempt to arrange Mozart for brass should result in summary execution of the guilty party. Its very easy to snobbish about this issue though and I am no exception.

    I have posted previously on the pitfalls of brass bands trying to play swing/jazz type arrangements. Listening to it gives me that same embarrased sinking feeling you get watching your parents disco dancing at weddings.
  5. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    erm, you must have good reason for having such a strong opinion on this one ... tell us why! :rolleyes:
  6. John Brooks

    John Brooks Well-Known Member

    Even when you have well chosen music, arranged by a highly qualified musician, and then performed superbly by a top band, you can't eliminate the subjective response. There are many examples in which all these "essentials" are present and individuals still prefer the "original". Our individual opinions as to what music is "appropriate" and "suitable" music to arrange for band are also extremely subjective. The suggestion that Pictures at an Exhibition is good in the arrangement for orchestra but doesn't work for band is such an example, suggesting "I know what I like and I like what I know".

    Personally I love many of the arrangements and, in addition to the Elgar Howarth "Pictures", the Dean Goffin -Themes from the Italian Symphony and Brian Bowen - Schubert Symphony No. 5 are but two more superb examples.
  7. BeatTheSheep

    BeatTheSheep Member

    You must be some pianist!

    I for one would just press the track forward button if you're annoyed by it. Friedimanns Slavonic Rhapsoody seems to work ok, but then I don't really know the original. Great fun to play though
  8. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    I was going to post this in JonP's "cop-out arrangements" thread, but it's just as applicable here.

    While I entirely agree that some arrangements for brass band are pretty hideous, and bear no resemblance to the original music, I always remember that I first started listening to classical music (when I was 8!) because I'd played a couple of pieces at youth band and really liked the tunes, and my dad happened to have some vinyl of the originals - Pirates of Penzance Overture, and Scheherezade. I was blown away - but I would never have got them out of the cupboard if it wasn't for the cheesy band arrangement that got me interested in the first place.

    That is what bands did in the 19th and early 20th century - brought music to the masses that they wouldn't have otherwise heard - and maybe there's still an element of that in what bands play now. If the cruddy arrangement of Liszt encourages only one person to seek out the original and be blown away by it, isn't it worth it?

    And incidentally, bands can play Mozart (as well as Handel, Bach, etc.) if they're directed by someone who really understands the style. It's just that there aren't many band conductors that have had much in-depth exposure to Mozart.
  9. Shaggy

    Shaggy New Member

    "a good reason" Necky? yes indeed I do. Have a listen to the sublime heavenly trio from Cosi Fan Tutte, you know the one, the old "desert island discs" favourite? Get yourself sat down in a darkened room, open yourself a decent vintage Burgundy put your head phones on and play it about ten times.

    Having done that, just think to yourself, did Mozart decide not to write a tuba part for a good reason?
  10. Shaggy

    Shaggy New Member

    "Exposure to Mozart" blimey, you make it sound like a venerial desease!
  11. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    Necky? :clap: If Mozart had resources as we have now, I'm sure he would have considered the tuba for some pieces. He did write rather a lot in his short lifetime.
  12. Shaggy

    Shaggy New Member

    A cautionary tale.

    Many years ago, I found myself obliged to play a test piece arrangement of Brahms "Academic festival overture". One night in the pub after another evenings slog through the test piece I decided to adorn those gathered around with what I considered a highly amusing, sardonic joke about the test piece.

    I asked the other players present if they had heard the ghastly rumours currently circulating about the possibility that an orchestral arrangement had recently been unearthed of the test piece? I sat back and waited for my sophisticated and urbane colleagues to shower me with gaggling brooks of merry laughter and compliment me on my gift for ironic repartee.

    Sadly, my rapier like wit was met with startled, disbelieving gasps, and indignant tut tutting. The silence was broken by one of those gathered saying "my god! really? it must sound awful" the others all concurred most heartily.
  13. Shaggy

    Shaggy New Member

    U think so necky? sounds a bit like the old addage " I have a horse in my back garden, but if it had a hump it would be a camel"
  14. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    - it must have been Haydn who liked the tuba then ... :rolleyes:
  15. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    In the case of Eine Kleine Nachtmusik and the Musical Joke, I'd rather have a venereal disease.

    And Wolfie didn't decide not to write a tuba part, because the tuba wasn't invented until about 1835. He did choose not to use a serpent, the contemporary military band bass instrument of choice, because no professional opera house would have had a serpent player.

    If he'd had the option, he may well have used extra low brass in the Requiem and Don Giovanni. He was keen on unusual instruments, including the janissary percussion in Die Entfuhrung and bassethorns in Figaro.
  16. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    - darn-it, that's blown my run-in for the tuba miram then ... :(
  17. Shaggy

    Shaggy New Member

    dear oh dear, Dracky boy! do try and keep up. Its irrelevant as to when the tuba was invented. My point is that in my opinion this particular piece of music would not sound good arranged for brass band and I choose to mention the tuba for comic effect in order to demostrate the point.

    Dont know why I bother sometimes!
  18. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    Sorry Shagster, old bean.;)

    I wouldn't dream of disputing your wisdom - I quite agree that the particular piece of music you mentioned would suck fat ones as a band arrangement. I look forward to hearing Frank's transription on Obrasso very soon.:eek:

    But there are some bits of Mozart that would, and do, work as brass band arrangements, if conducted well. Much as I admire Nicholas Childs' achievements as a musician, I heard Dyke play the overture to The Marriage of Figaro at the RNCM in January and it stank, because it was conducted as though it was a Philip Wilby testpiece.

    It's a shame that quartet playing seems to be a bit of a dying art, because that's a format that does suit Mozart transcriptions quite well.

    In any case, here's a hypothetical question for you: If someone did transcribe the Cosi trio, and that transcription (although a pile of cack in itself) inspired some people to seek out and enjoy the sublime original, doesn't that in some way justify the cack arrangement?

    Oh don't be like that. Where would we be without the Shagmeister to keep us all honest?
  19. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    Erm... that may be the point YOU were trying to make,but certainly not the point anno draconis was trying to make. If you actually read the post in stead of just sniping from the wings, you'll surely get a better picture of the argument being made.

    Correct me if I'm wrong Anno Draconis, but I think you were pointing out that if mozart HAD access to these instruments, he'd very probably have used them as he was (in his day) very avant garde and experimental.

    And I find it highly relavent to the point when the Tuba was invented. I'm sure that the unintentionally comic aspects of a tuba could have added a great deal to the likes of The Magic Flute, or the Marriage of Figaro.
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2007
  20. Will the Sec

    Will the Sec Active Member

    Well, Jay, I think you should arrange for the purchase of three copies of "The Fairytale of New York" when it's out in a few weeks, and let your bands decide...

Share This Page