Do we deserve audiences if we don't entertain ?

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by iancwilx, Jan 20, 2005.

  1. iancwilx

    iancwilx Active Member

    Do we really deserve audiences when you consider the hackneyed boring often repeated and predictable items that many 1/2/3/4th Section Bands churn out year in year out.
    At Kippax we have to present a brand new programme every month in our band club which certainly keeps us on our toes, but a lot of bands have one programme in the pad all year which consists, in the main, of the same items that 90% of other bands are playing that year - only the uniforms are different !!!
    I'm not suggesting that we should replace "Cheesy" audience pleasing items with technical modern items that please us but doesn't entertain them (us).
    I just think that a lot of bands could be a little more adventurous and rummage around a bit deeper in the library cupboard, or, (God forbid), spend a bit of hard earned dosh on some well chosen items from the publishers catalogue.
    We could even change the format of concerts away from the standard formula, and perhaps introduce a bit more wit and repartee from the MD/Compere.
    What about some interactive audience items, and I don't mean silly, cretinous, amateurish clowning that patronises the audience ?
    We cannot, in all honesty, expect our loyal supporters to consistently turn up and pay at the door (Or sit in the park) and hear the same items that they heard from last weeks band and the one the week before that et al.
    Let's really earn the meagre fees we receive for turning out on a Sunday afternoon or Saturday night, and give value for money by putting a bit of thought into how we can entertain the audience so they will enjoy the performance and look forward to hearing us again.
    A lot of bands need money from engagements to survive, and the bottom line is that if we don't entertain, we won't get jobs and we will struggle or fold - deservedly so !!!
  2. hellraiser

    hellraiser Member

    I agree with this.

    Just out of interest- have you seen an improvement in the sight reading abilities of your band due to the fact you play new pieces all the time?
  3. 2nd man down

    2nd man down Moderator Staff Member

    I agree with this in principle but the problem is bands have concerts all year round to keep the much needed coffers topped up, and at lower level the music that is currently played at those concerts has to be rehe***** to keep it at concert where does the time come from to rehearse more difficult or obscure music to be able to turn out something different?
    With the best will in the world a lower section band can only change a couple of pieces at a time and by the time the repertoire has been fully changed, all that "new" music has become the stuff that the band trots out all the time.

    It would be a wonderful situation if we were all good enough to sight read anything out of the cupboard at concert standard...but it just aint gonna happen.

    *edit* why on earth does "r e h e a r s e d" still get bleeped?!?!? :-?
  4. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

  5. AndyCat

    AndyCat Active Member

    I agree with the sentiment,


    the fullest orchestral concerts are the same old, same old. How many new pieces, on average, does an Orchestra concert feature? Not many! People want to hear the stuff they already know in general, with perhaps a small new piece now or then. This is, obviously, for a GENERAL audience, not an audience of musicians!

    I do agree that bands should be a bit less predictable, but I'm not sure it greatly affects audience numbers in general. Many of the brass band audience would turn up regardless of what was being played if my experiences are anything to go by. Musicians, on the other hand, would need a good reason to attend!
  6. jpbray

    jpbray Member

    We should always try and entertain and vary music wherever possible, but the biggest sacrilege is to go into a concert under rehe*****, then you are sure not to entertain.;)
  7. johnmartin

    johnmartin Active Member

    I too agree with the main thrust of your argument. In my role as band librarian I have purchased lots of new works over the past couple of years. The intention is to keep the band on their toes by introducing new stuff every so often. Most of the stuff I have bought recently has been either new compositions or arrangements which have been released in the last five years or so. This policy has resulted in a better atmosphere an increased interest because the band like playing the new stuff. It has also improved our sight reading capacity. The only downside is that it is costing me a packet.
  8. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

  9. davidquinlan

    davidquinlan Member

    I'm not sure that Orchestral concerts is a fair comparison (especially professional orchestras). I would pay to hear Beethoven 9th or Mahler 5 many times, i.e. you pay to hear the conductors interpretation at the helm of a top orchestra

    e.g. Berlin Phil playing Mahler conducted by Rattle, LSO playing Beethoven conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas etc.. or the other way round!!

    If there was a similar kind of band concert ..... Big name conductors, top band playing major works for brass band ?

    As for run of the mill concerts, each band is different, there are many factors that influence concert programming, e.g. attendance at rehearsals, mixed playing/reading ability, concert venues etc determine the content of a concert.
  10. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    .. you've hit on another good point there! A lot has been said on the marketing of brass bands but little on the product itself. Can the general brass band image (as seen by Joe public) be enough in itself to sell to a diverse entertainment market? Would a concert geared towards hip-hop music bring a younger audience? If Eninem was the guest in such a band concert, tickets would sell as a result of his appearance. Take him away and what would you generate in terms of audience? Would the association of his participation increase future ticket sales? More publicity would result (... remember the Acid Brass promotion?) but would it be only short-term relief? Is the gala-day band image set too much in people's minds and now becoming a negative influence? More questions than answers! :-?
  11. jpbray

    jpbray Member

    My wife plays violin with the City Cardiff Symphony Orchestra and they play a conert about every three to four months, but the audience they get is usually small and made up of friends and family. However, their format may be worth looking at, they don't have the ubiquitous raffle, presentations, or refreshments at half time, all they usually have is a guest soloist for one piece, a simple programme giving blurb about the pieces being played, and the concert advertising also lists the peices being played. It seems in the brass band world we have got to have all the trappings which makes eveything a toil of a pleasure. Hence few concerts.
  12. davidquinlan

    davidquinlan Member

    I wouldn't buy one!! :)
  13. iancwilx

    iancwilx Active Member

    The band have been doing this for years and I would say that our sight reading is well above average.
    The downside is that if we have a Contest piece to get up as well as a new prog every 4 weeks + other engagements - sometimes one or the other, in my opinion, is not as good as it could have been due to lack of rehearsal time.
    Personally, I find it stimulating, but sometimes wonder whether it's a musical burden.
    Must say though it's a "Nice little Earner" for the Band Fund.
  14. Chunky

    Chunky Active Member

    What you have to realise is that what entertains one person may not entertain another. Therefore you need to produce a varied and a constantaly evolving programme.
  15. iancwilx

    iancwilx Active Member

    Exactly - you have put your finger right on the button !!
  16. jpbray

    jpbray Member

    However, the constantaly evolving programme is always tempered by the need to work up contest peices (here we go again):p.
  17. Chunky

    Chunky Active Member

    Indeed. However with proper planning it can be done. Most contest pieces are known well in advance.

    Our MD choses his programmes with one eye on forthcoming contest pieces. ie picks concert pieces which have resemblances to the forthcoming test piece.

    Also the person booking engagements should liase with the MD, asking them how clear a gap do they want before contests.
  18. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    Some very good points made here, and echoes of previous discussions regarding what sort of audiences we are/should be playing to. Whilst there may be an audience at the moment for the sort of "pot-boiler" programme referred to, it does not do much to build up audiences for the future.

    As has been said in other threads, you wouldn't dream of attending an orchestral concert without at least some idea of the repertoire on the programme, even if it simply outlines a genre such as "A Viennese Evening". Another point regarding the need to rotate programe items is to provide some much-needed variety for the players: we've done a long series of "Last Night of the Proms" evenings, where the core items have to be present, or the audience is disappointed, but it is very hard to present them fresh every time when you yourselves wished they could be consigned to Room 101 - not because of any poor musical value, but simply on the grounds over over-familiarity.
  19. skweeky

    skweeky Member

    I would say, or am saying, that although the bandspeople playing the pieces may get bored of playing the same programme over and over again, the audiences in general like listening to songs that they like.

    A simple compasiron to this is that if you like a certain pop song you keep on listening to it; just because its good and you have heard it before doesnt mean that you cant hear it again.

    Audiences attend band concerts to be entertained, and variety is not always the factor that entertains people: some people like repeats of favourite tunes; some people prefer one style of music. Overall, Mr A in the front row may love the variety of band X's concerts but MrB in the back seat will always love to hear his own favourites. It is up to the MD to gain a happy medium, there is no right or wrong answer.

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