Divided bands?

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Brass Band Drummer, Jun 17, 2013.

  1. I won’t mention names; it’s the principle that matters here, I think. Yesterday I attended a brass band concert. It was a Championship Section band. There were euphonium, flugelhorn and cornet solos. Each soloist was introduced by name, and the audience was invited to express its acclaim to each after the piece ended. Then, there was a fine xylophone solo. There was no introduction of the player and it was followed by...

    ... an uninvited round of applause for the band – and no mention of the soloist.

    It has been said before that percussionists are, too often, regarded as somehow on the stage with the band but not of the band. Could this be another manifestation of the problem.
  2. Ianroberts

    Ianroberts Well-Known Member

    he / she should think himself / herself lucky the band let him play with them !! :sup:sup (putting me tin hat on)
  3. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Weird priorities. Should think that that band will find itself needing a xylophone player shortly.
  4. DRW

    DRW New Member

    It could be possible that the player requested none of that type of activity. When compering, I have been sincerely asked / pleaded by soloists not to make a 'big thing' of their solo. However, if this was not the case here, I agree that it is a shame that the percussionist was treated differently.
    However, again in defense of the compere, it is very easy whilst thinking about everything else you have to say / do to forget even important things such as this. It could be unfair to draw only one conclusion from what you saw.
  5. You make a very good point. It is easy, but probably wrong, to assume, as I have just done, that a player in the Championship Section will be completely at ease in all situations onstage. Unfortunately, however, although, as you have shown, my point does not prove it, too many do seem to believe that percussion players are somehow inferior, not entirely necessary, etc.
  6. DRW

    DRW New Member

    It's a while since I've met anyone other than percussionists themselves that seriously think that.

    Following your logic, it seems that in the concert you attended the percussionist was considered more important that the basses, trombones, baritones and horns who didn't even get to showcase their instrument via a solo.

    My money is on the compere being preoccupied with other things on his / her mind and nothing at all to do with being anti-percussion.
  7. Morghoven

    Morghoven Member

    In that case, you're lucky. Quite obviously there is nowhere near the level of open hostility as there was "back in the day", but I've met plenty of people who regard the percussion section as something to be tolerated at best...and even worse, I've seen some adjudications that bear out that attitude.

    That might be true and without other information it's fair to give the benefit of the doubt. It might also be true (as others have mentioned) that the soloist didn't want a big fuss, though I would say that having your name given as a soloist does not really constitute a fuss! However, if a compere is so preoccupied with other things that they can't even introduce a soloist by name then they are not concentrating on their role hard enough and should not expect to compere again.
  8. I don’t want to be too picky about what follows from what, but although, yes, this percussionist did get to play solo while others did not, it seems at least as likely that the xylophone happened to feature in a piece that the MD wanted to play.
  9. DRW

    DRW New Member

    Really? I don't know if you've ever compered, but when I do my mind is a whirr of all the things I need to say / should have said / might need to say and that is on top of trying to keep thoughts on the next piece that I'm about to play or conduct.
    Compering is a thankless task - in fact, the compere is normally the one giving all the thanks and seldom gets it reciprocated. Have we stumbled across a role even more unappreciated than percussionists :)
  10. Morghoven

    Morghoven Member

    I have compered on a regular basis, almost always when conducting the programme as well. Yes it isn't easy, and yes it's often a thankless task. But just because it's difficult and thankless doesn't mean it should be done badly and while we all make mistakes I would class not introducing a soloist as a fundamental error rather than a slip-up.

    If one can't be sure of holding all the necessary info in the memory and recalling it accurately on cue then make notes - if conducting as well, then make them in the score. That's what we do as players and conductors, so there's no reason not to do it as a compere too.
  11. DRW

    DRW New Member

    *sucking eggs now* :)
  12. pedaller

    pedaller Member

    I think you may have inadvertently stumbled upon the reason that the xylophonist was uncredited. Perhaps the piece was not a "xylophone solo" , but a piece "featuring" xylophone, amongst other "featured" instruments, in which case, although reprehensible for not naming the xylophone soloist, if other featured players in the piece were not named, the oversight is understandable.
  13. Your thought is a fair one, but I don't think that it explains why the xylophone soloist was not credited.

    As your inverted commas around "solo" indicate, “what is a soloist?" cannot be answered as easily as one might expect. Since a solo is, literally, a passage that is played by an unaccompanied player, some might insist that a soloist is simply someone who plays unaccompanied. If that is simply that, then we have to ask whether a player is a soloist if s/he plays alone for, say, two bars and is barely heard for the rest of the piece. I suggest that a soloist is, to brass bands, frequently, and probably mostly, the player of a lead-part, whether accompanied or otherwise.

    It is pointless to continue this debate without naming the piece and arrangement. I am not going to list all of the solos, mainly because I don’t want to identify the concert and the band in question, but also because, frankly, I cannot remember some of the names of the pieces. However, the following is a video of another band playing the same piece, and, more or less, to the same arrangement.


    If that piece did not feature a xylophone soloist, and no other soloist, then most "soloists" that I hear introduced as such are not soloists. At the concert in question, one of the three brass-instrument solos was wholly accompanied, while another was accompanied apart from a very short cadenza.
  14. marc71178

    marc71178 Member

    Oh, so in fact the piece you refer to is not actually a Xylophone solo in any case so it's all a non-event.
  15. I take it, then that you have a different definition of a soloist from the one in use that night and around UK brass bands.
  16. marc71178

    marc71178 Member

    No, but knowing the piece very well and that the piece can be (and frequently is) played without a Xylophone, I don't see how it can be deemed a Xylophone solo.
  17. I expect that most people have heard the piece played by several types of ensemble. If I'm not mistaken, it was originally written for organ, so it seems unlikely that anyone thought of using a xylophone at that time. when it was written. Surely, however often however many people have heard a tune, and whether it can be, is sometimes is or even is mostly, played without a xylophone, either the player was or was not a soloist according to the standards adopted on the night, especially, and generally in brass bands.
  18. marc71178

    marc71178 Member

    But if the piece isn't a solo item, why should the so called soloist be singled out? You don't see a principal cornet player named and stood up after every piece in a program which they play the tune in unless it's a true solo item and this piece isn't a solo item.

    It seems to me this is a complete storm in a teacup thread set up by a percussionist with a chip on their shoulder.
  19. I can see that we shall not agree on this, Marc. I can also see that you like the barrackroom psychology stuff. All in all, then, there no point discussing anything with you.
  20. DRW

    DRW New Member

    To be fair, Marc does have a point. The alternative reasons that have been offered seem to be more likely explanations than a prejudice against percussionists, yet you don't seem to want one of them to be the answer.

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