Brass band scores query

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by berkshire_baritone, Mar 7, 2015.

  1. Does anyone know a good musical reason why the euph parts are generally written on the same line of the score, but the baritones, tenor trombones and the tenor horns get a line each? It makes sense to put the base parts together as having the bases playing often out of unison is uncommon in any large musical group, but why the other parts are split as they are?

    I suspect having the euph parts together means a greater tendency to play in unison.

    Also, why have one front row cornet part for 4 good cornet players, but a separate 2nd and 3rd parts for less capable players? Surely it would be better the other way round?

    Do these unwritten rules of composition mean that music gets written in with those rules? Often the first bar and euph are in unison on something complex, whilst the 2nd bar is resting. Why is three players right, four wrong?

  2. bumper-euph

    bumper-euph Member

    The reason for the Euph parts like that is that as the Euphonium is such a quiet , timid instrument you need 2 players to make it heard , but baritones are so noisy you only need 1 player on each part. :clap::D
  3. Coverhead

    Coverhead Member

    I don't have the answer unfortunately, but I'm intrigued to see if anyone knows. I will say, however, that most modern major pieces are now written with 2 seperate euph parts and 2 seperate solo cornet parts... a much better (and more flexible) system imo.
  4. It's good to see these changes, but often they aren't there. certainly you never see a combined baritone part, but a split euph part. why not print combined parts where you tend to have less able players, and split parts for the more able?
  5. midlandman

    midlandman Member

    I think the Euph is on one line as the division of Euphs is rare in early brass band scores. I may be wrong though. Scoring has not remained the same just look at the flug/rep parts it's now standard to score separately. Some scores do have split Euph and some have 4 solo cornet parts.
  6. Even torchbearers has the old fashioned single solo cornet and euph lines. It is becoming more common, but it's not a done thing. The flugelhorn rep split is a good one, because the parts don't play in unison as much as they used to when on one part.
  7. midlandman

    midlandman Member

    Spot on. I also think you a major point about composing within the score.
    It is certainly not the case now but exEuph players 'retired' to baritone then 2nd bar when things became too difficult.
    Do you think the position on the score also has an influence on the composition?
  8. Thats exactly my point. The position on the score dictates the composition. Split lines means more likely to have split parts playing totally different rhythms.

    the cornet split just looks rather silly. You wouldn't design it like that. The rep part is a throw back to the 'with flugelhorn' days. Why not have three parts for three players each? The unwritten rules hamper composition.
  9. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    The short answer is "evolution". The banding layout wasn't designed; rather a large cluster of instrumentally somewhat similar groups converged to a standard - where they met is where we still are.

    Longer answers are (at least on my part) at least somewhat based on assumption and guesswork, but there is some solid knowledge out there.
    - Horns - There were originally separate parts for Eb (solo) and Db horns (1st and 2nd). In 1862 the original Crystal Palace Nationals decreed that only Bb and Eb instruments were to be used for their contests, rather than the then alternatively popular Ab and Db instruments. This change seems to have percolated down quite rapidly.
    - Basses - I suspect you are basically correct with your idea here. Even early bands seem to have commonly doubled bass lines from the available photos. I suspect that the same part was being widely played by multiple people even before the days of standardisation.
    - Euphoniums - Not really sure here. 1860s instrumentations often show only 1 euph, but sometimes more. But the ophicleide was also found. Did ophicleide parts simply get merged into euph parts?
    - Cornet numbers -
    - Front row - The 'tune' part gradually expanded in numbers. I suppose you need a lot of cover to make it sound convincing over long stretches of playing. Wright & Round's 1885 instrumentation list, which looks pretty modern, notes that there were two players on the solo cornet part in a full brass band.
    - Back row - Note that '2nd' and '3rd' should be considered in reference to 'Repiano', not 'Solo'. They are effectively '2nd Repiano' and '3rd Repiano'. 'Repiano' is a corruption of 'Ripieno' (meaning 'filled') - there is an analogue with the already existing string usage in certain musical contexts, where the leader of the section is 'solo' and the rest are 'ripieno'. In the original idea, the principal cornet was the show-off part, with the other cornets making up the musical padding. In time this balance shifted.
    - 2nd Baritone vs Euphs and 1st - This one is I think little mystery. For whatever historical and musical reasons (euph the prestige tenor solo voice; baritone harder to project), this has for a long time been a part that the less technically apt are able to play. No point writing parts that won't be played - or worse, will be played poorly. No reflection from me on the specific qualities of particular 2nd baritone players (I've done it myself!), just a note that this is what is expected on the average while scoring.

    So I think "evolution" is about the most meaningful answer to give. Looking for great sense in it is unlikely to bear perfect fruit.

    As ever with this kind of topic, I've drawn heavily on Roy Newsome's PhD thesis.

    The Torchbearer
    (I assume you mean this, rather than the Torchbearers march it's based on) is deliberate throwback piece of scoring. Touches such as the 3rd cornet part being another trombone are a tribute to Eric Ball. I wouldn't look at it too heavily when thinking about where brass band scoring practice is going.

    I pulled the score of Hubert Bath's 1922 Nationals work Freedom out of the library the other day. It looks strangely laid out to modern eyes, with the trombones at the very bottom, the solo cornet above the soprano, and no flugel line. But the real oddity with the cornets is that the 4 Bb cornet lines are labelled Solo, Rep, 2nd, 3rd+4th. Now I'd never seen a brass band score refer to 4th cornets before, although I know that it is (or has been? I'm not very clear) used in military band music. More strangely, the scoring (3rd and 4th written on the same score line and score part, but often divisi in a way that matched the 2nd, making three equal parts) made it clear that equal weight should be attached to 2nd, 3rd, and 4th.

    So - does that mean 2 2nds, 2 3rds, 2 4ths? Then flugel doubling rep to make 2 also. Which leaves a grand total of 2 solos left over. I'm genuinely rather puzzled by this, and would appreciate any knowledge that might be out there on the subject. Maybe banders in 1922 were puzzled by it too! Certainly Wright & Round's 1885 scoring list looks more like a modern band than that does.
  10. Thanks for the detailed reply. Fascinating. it would be good to see composers looking to be more original, why follow rules from 1885 just out of tradition?
  11. Didn't bands used to have fewer cornets? If so I'd expect your cornet query above was 1 4th, 1 3rd, 1 2nd, 1 rep and then four on the front plus one sop? Old photos of the top bands always have 9 cornets.
  12. Coverhead

    Coverhead Member

    Philip Wilby is rather well-known for doing this. A lot of his major works have very original scoring - 'Revelation', 'Dove Descending', and 'Vienna Nights' are all written with one to a part, also in different score orders to create innovative groupings. As far as I know, McCabe's 'Cloudcatcher Fells' was the first brass band piece to include 4 seperate bass parts (as well as 2 euphs), I believe it caused quite a stir at the time... or so I've heard, I wasn't born until 1989! ;)
  13. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    I forget where I read this now, but it used to be one of the 3rds that was omitted for contest purposes, to make a total of 9. There's no reason why that couldn't square with your idea. However, there is a strong pragmatic argument against it:
    The scoring at the opening of the 3rd mvmt of Freedom suggests that it can't be sop+4+1(+flug?)+1+1+1 - solo cornet has the tune for a few bars, then it dovetails to rep cornet. Tune in one line of the score becomes tune in another line of the score. 4 versus 1 would sound terribly unbalanced - would just be terrible scoring if so.
  14. Thanks for making me feel old! Seriously though Wilby broke the mold, and obviously 25 brass lines is great. For lower end banding your unlikely to have 25 players so you want some doubling up with coverable splits.
  15. Pauli Walnuts

    Pauli Walnuts Moderator Staff Member

    Whilst not related to contest pieces, Mark Freeh often uses one of the baritones as the 4th trombone in his excellent big band charts for brass band.
  16. GordonH

    GordonH Active Member

    The reason for having the four solo cornet parts printed on one physical part is presumably so they can see how their parts fit together. Something like Essence of Time would be more difficult if you could not see the other front row parts.
  17. Euphonium Lite

    Euphonium Lite Active Member

    Its also probably worth remembering that a lot of SA music often has a slightly different layout – no 3[SUP]rd[/SUP] cornets, rep becomes “1[SUP]st[/SUP] cornet” and an extra trombone part – indeed the layout caused some problems with Maccabeus having to be re-scored

    Moonin – Ive seen 4[SUP]th[/SUP] cornet parts – a lot of old marches have them as well. I guess it may have been in a response to try and develop band scoring and – over time – rejected?

    Berkshire – re: Euph/Baris. Euph has often been a single part, however a lot of modern writing will split them – as indeed the front row cornet part is often split. Keeping them on a single line is probably more down to keeping ink costs and paper size manageable….? 2[SUP]nd[/SUP] Bari is a strange part, and one that Ive had the pleasure of playing when I returned to banding. It is very much a part on its own – a link part if you like, akin to 2[SUP]nd[/SUP] horn (look at a lot of music and Solo & 1[SUP]st[/SUP] will have stuff together, 2[SUP]nd[/SUP] will have more with Euph/baris – and 2[SUP]nd[/SUP] Bari links between the Euph Bari line and the trombones (and even the basses at times). Hence why it rests when the others play – and vice versa sometimes. As Moomin mentions, I think a lot of lower section scoring is carried out with the composer mindful that 2[SUP]nd[/SUP] Baris are often amongst the weaker players in the band, along with 2[SUP]nd[/SUP] horn and 3[SUP]rd[/SUP] cornets.

    Can we/should we change instrumentation? A lot of bands in the contest field are set up with standard instrumentation and changing them potentially means changing your personnel. Dropping a couple of cornets in favour of another bari and tenor horn may seem like a good idea – but would almost certainly result in a shortage on the increased instruments and a lot of unemployed cornet players. Whether there is a mood for such a change – I don’t know
  18. Euphonium Lite

    Euphonium Lite Active Member

    Not too sure on that Gordon - a lot of concert stuff seems to have split SC parts - 1 & 2 on one part, 3 & 4 on the other. I would suggest its more an issue of cost rather than any particular desire to group things
  19. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    I wonder if these were from editions that also covered military band parts? I know various old Alford marches for military band had 4th cornet parts.
  20. Accidental

    Accidental Supporting Member

    Interesting generalisation..... I don't know many bands where at least one of the baritone players isn't more able than at least one of the euphoniums :rolleyes:

    I don't think the score layout really matters if the composer/arranger has any knowledge of what different instruments/parts should be capable of, and the imagination and skills to use them.

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