Composing/Arranging for bands - Teaching material

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Gorgie boy, Feb 16, 2004.

  1. Gorgie boy

    Gorgie boy Member

    I was away helping with a Salvation Army band at the weekend and I met a young guy who brought me some of his scores to look over. They were of a pretty decent standard for a starter and he was really keen for feedback and for help in his future efforts. I directed him to this website as a good source of information and information sharing.

    Can I ask the question for him then: Where would he go for good written material about composition, but more crucially, scoring for band? I gave him some pointers as I compose and arrange myself, but didn't feel able to impart that much as I am self taught as a composer/arranger and as such my work is largely trial and error!

    Thanks in anticipation

    Paul Drury
    Eb Bass
    Edinburgh Gorgie Band
    Composer/Arranger of Ill Repute!
  2. Active Member

    Stephen Cobb is very keen to encourage young Salvationist composers as no doubt you are aware already. He has Ken Downie working as a consultant to the Music Ministries Unit at THQ and Ken is seen quite regularly giving tutorials to young and aspiring composers.
  3. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    Ray Steadman-Allen wrote an excellent textbook on brass band scoring; I think it was called something like "Colour and texture in the brass band" (or similar). I believe it was originally published by SP&S, but I'm not 100% certain. Don't know if it's still in print. I used to have a copy, but foolishly loaned it to someone (don't remember who!) and never got it back, so if anyone does know where I can get a copy ........ ?


  4. Active Member

    Published by SP&S in the early 1980's and long since out of print, I'm afraid. There would be a case of getting RSA to update it as I think brass band scoring has moved on in the last 20 years or so. Worth getting hold of a copy if you can find one. I guard my copy jealously!
  5. davidsait

    davidsait Member

  6. MartinT

    MartinT Member

    The original guide, I think, was Denis Wright's "Scoring for Brass Band" (?), which I have a feeling was originally published in nineteen thirty-something. I bought a reprint somewhere around 1990 but lent it to someone - possibly it will be reprinted again sometime. It centres largely around translating piano, woodwind, string and orchestral scores into BB terms, if I recall correctly.

    I have the RS-A book as well. It would need some updating for today, but not very much, I think, certainly not as much as the DW book.
  7. Gorgie boy

    Gorgie boy Member

    Thanks for all the ongoing help. I have already encouraged this young man to send his scores off to Stephen Cobb in the hope they would find their way to Ken Downie or RSA. I had also forgotten about RSA's book and now I recall it may have been called 'Colour and Texture in the Brass Band Score'.

    Why are all those great books always out of print?! (World of Brass please help!)
  8. segarden

    segarden New Member

    I am very keen on doing arrangements for brass band but not sure how to go about it legally. Can anyone tell me how to go about getting the right permissions and then who I can send them to, to try and get them published?

    Many thanks in advance
  9. davidsait

    davidsait Member

    The new released tMP Copyright FAQ has some excellent information: [removed broken url]
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 17, 2015
  10. sparkling_quavers

    sparkling_quavers Active Member

    thanks for the plug david :p
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 17, 2015
  11. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    Although it was orignally issued in the 1930s, I still think there's a lot of useful and valuable information relevant to arranging for bands today in the Denis Wright book, Scoring for Brass Band. I haven't seen the others mentioned so can't comment about them!

  12. Naomi McFadyen

    Naomi McFadyen New Member

    remember it well do you?

  13. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    What are you implying, Ms Cornish?! ;-) I'm not that old (but to quote from a Goon Show - my eyes aren't what they used to be......they used to be me ears!)

    I only knew it was originally issued from reading Roy Newsome's excellent book about Denis Wright. DW's book on scoring is still on sale even today! ;-)
  14. Naomi McFadyen

    Naomi McFadyen New Member

    i couldnt resist...

  15. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

  16. James McFadyen

    James McFadyen New Member

    here are too many boks to mention!

    The first thing to do is differenciate between the art of composition and the art of writing for brass band.

    A good composition with bog-standard scoring techniques wil always sound better than excelnt scoring but not-quite-so-good compositional skills.

    If anybody is serious about composition, one should IMMEDIETLY study harmony and counterpoint. Without this skill or education u'll be lost. R.O Morris wrote a fantasic one!!!

    It's no good just to know what notes feature in certain chords, you must know how to apply them in any given situation, again there is nothing you can do but study harmony and counterpoint.

    The art of orchehstration/instrumentation is largely about problem solving!

    One must study long and hard for years. There is NO shortcut, unfortuately, again remeber the basics about composition: melody, harmony and counterpoint, inversion, retrograde, pitch classes and note row's, 20th century notation techniques. There are so many books on these subjects that it's impossible to reccomend a few, go to ur uni library, or serach the web;

    Scorew writing/instrumentation is a skill on it's own and requires a technical knowlage of sound. You must know how instruments produce sound and how it's overtones effect it's sound at different volumes. Books and above all experence are imperative.

    I get numerous email very often about advice on creating chords, etc, one must remember that to fully understand how harmony works in music, one must study it for himself through books and experience and experementation.

    Don't be afraid to be wild - don't feel you must conform to tonal rules or even atonal! Composition is about expression, it's not about creating music that sounds good.

    I teach composition regulary and always start them off by giving them a break from making music, I get them to think about what moves them, what turns them on, what do they hate, what is it that pushes thier buttons: if you can answer these questions you are ready to start the art of composition, I would not reccomend you start until you have thought about these as you'll be wandering the dark - you're compostion must have a purpose.

    Recommended books:

    Orchestration: Cecil Forsyth
    Scoring for Brass Band: Dennis Wright
    Harmony and Counterpoint: R.O Morris

    The brass band scoring book will get you started but personally I found it very very bland, very uninventive, but a good starting point for an absolute beginner - I would not reccomend any brass band scoring books/online info for those seeking to get exciting sounds out of the Brass Band, so far I have found them all to be useful for beginners only who seek to create 'generic' sounds and not for an expereienced composer looking to create better and unique sounds.

    I teach all my pupils to be individual and experement, most opf my pupils are wring better stuff than some of the 'names' of today - good on them!!!!

    The most important thing: experement, remember the technicalities but at ALL COSTS GET YOUR OWN SOUND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    ps: i aplogise for my spelling, I have just got back from a funeral and had few Jack D's! :wink:
  17. segarden

    segarden New Member

    ok thanks for that, I'll have a look.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 17, 2015
  18. shedophone

    shedophone Member


  19. James McFadyen

    James McFadyen New Member

    Change good to nice ;)


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