Entertainment contests?

Discussion in 'The Adjudicators' Comments' started by Toxophile, Feb 25, 2009.

  1. Toxophile

    Toxophile Member

    I returned to banding a few years ago after quite a long break and was a little surprised at some of the chages in the format of Entertainment contests.

    Bear with me on this one please; I am sure this will court controversy. What exactly is being judged in entertainment contests these days? One band I am involved with are playing a piece of music which is quite entertaining to listen to and play but are "improving the entertainment content" by standing up, sitting down and turning like Victorian Automata and are further "enhancing" this performance with juggling and plate spinning.

    I am sure this is all very entertaining, but what is being marked in these contests. Does a poor or average band score better in an entertainment contest because a few of the players can juggle or dance? Does a very good band who play a selection of pieces that form a diverse and entertaining programme get marked down for not having their bass section swinging from a trapeze?

    At the end of the day I play because I like making music. If I had wanted to be a juggler or a comedian, I would have joined a circus not a Brass Band. I just wonder where the line will eventually be drawn and whether the music and quality of the playing has gone by the board.
  2. Accidental

    Accidental Supporting Member

    That's a bit of a how long's a piece of string question!

    Some ents contests have the marks broken down - eg at the SCABA contest different marks are awarded for Music (60%), Content/Entertainment (30%) and Presentation/Deportment (10%). The scoring makes sure musical quality is the most important factor, and generally the band that plays best does win, but there have been occasions when bands have played brilliantly but they were beaten because their programmes were so dull or the 'entertainment' was cringeworthy.

    Others (eg, Wychavon, Yeovil) just have a total mark so its up to the individual adjudicator how much weight s/he gives to the so-called entertainment value.

    I don't know how BIC is marked - anyone?
  3. peterg

    peterg Member

    Hi All,

    Regarding what and how this is marked is usually set out in the contest rules. I am the contest sec. for Brass in Ripon and it is clearly stated: 80% music by a recognised brass band adjudicator. 20% entertainment by a separate two person panel drawn from the general public. In the event of a tie then the band with the higher music mark is the winner. No problem there then.

    As regards what and how the programme should be PERFORMED or acted or juggled??? is a different question altogether. I suppose it depends whether you set your stall out to entertain a group of the general public or a group of die hard brass fanatics. Neither will appreciate the others programme I would suggest. We have found that a light balanced programme that appeals to the general public and also visually entertains without going OTT usually does well.

    Peter Gilby
  4. Toxophile

    Toxophile Member

    I sat and watched an entertainments contest this afternoon and I did feel that the non-musical part of this affected the performance of the band in question. Some of the jokes went a little too far IMHO and I do feel this was an area the band playing lost marks.

    Some years ago I played in a contest where the Sop and Principal cornet players at Thoresby band played the valves on each other's cornet while blowing their own cornet. I found this very entertaining as well as very impressive and would happily see more of that in an entertainment contest.

    I must confess I did not take part in the performance as I have moved bands since first posting this, but I did go along and watch to support my old band. The juggling and plate spinning added little to the performance, in fact the dropped juggling balls actually detracted from the performance.

    I feel line I'm ranting now :) There is a point in this somewhere, just when does sonething cease to be entertaining?
  5. DublinBass

    DublinBass Supporting Member

    I think as has been mentioned by most others, the most entertaining thing is good playing.

    However, IMHO part of an entertainment contest is making a connection with the audience and really grabbing them. Good playing will always help reach the audience, but showing a personality a bit of humour, can also help.

    Plate spinning and juggling are neat effects, but how long until it wears off. I'd say an average plate spinner or juggler can really grab my attention for about 15 seconds. Now if the juggler is really choreographed to the music and starts juggling cornets only to play the last note...that could be a great and stunning ending to something like Entry of the Gladiators.

    I guess I'm saying that I think if a gimmick is worth doing in an entertainment contest it has to be no more than a 1-2 sec gag for a quick laugh or done full bifta...to the furthest possible extent that can fit within the piece (and it ought to be a short piece) and still fit within a concert rather than being something else.

    Look at The Cuckoo by Grimethorpe that was the BB video of the day a few days back...the whole piece was comic, building up with a comic crescendo until the end. I thought it was brilliant. It was only about 1:30, but had the piece gone 2:00 or 2:30 it would have been too long.

    I've seen some bands have characters running around on stage (e.g. Indiana Jones and the temple of Doom)...it loses the effect, but having the guy with the whip come out solely for the final reprise and snatch the cigarette from an "audience" members mouth was great.
  6. BigHorn

    BigHorn Active Member

    I have seen some bizarre decisions at contests in the past where poor 4th section performances have beaten competent 1st section performances. This happens when some local civic dignitry is employed as 'entertainment' judge who has 30% of the marks and thinks it a hoot when a band for example runs about with water pistols or wears silly hats in an embarrassing non-funny comedy sketch.
    All I would say on the subject is that any entertainment judge should at least have some knowledge about the brass band movement and its music. If a top class band plays serious opera overtures at an entertainment contest then they deseve to be marked down, but a well played, easily accessible but difficult piece should always win over some noddy tat played by a poor outfit wearing tu-tus for a cheap laugh.
  7. Nuke

    Nuke Active Member

    the word Cowbell springs to mind for that one pat.

    With reference to entertainment contest though as has been said above most are clearly defined as one part playing one part entertaining choreography and the such.

    For an example at butlins not so long ago Wire Brass took the Most Entertaining Band prize yet when the results came out overall they didn't finish so high up.

    It can be difficult to get a good balance I agree but if you know the rules of a contest and how it is graded then hopefully you will be able to pitch it just right.
  8. tuba90

    tuba90 Member

    York Railway Istitiute played in the first otley entertainment contest today. and personally i am glad as a brass bander that music ability took priority over entertainment value. it comes to show taht no matter how entertaining a band are, the standard of playing should always be the main priority in marking a programme. However well done to all bands today and lets hope for the contest to kick up and go for the forseeable future.
  9. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    What the brass band movement find entertaining ISN'T neccesarily what Joe Public, who doesn't give two hoots whether it's Black Dyke or Mugglethorpe B Band on stage, finds entertaining. The question is, what should an entertainment contest be judging?

    As Nuke said^^, Wire Brass won the 2008 Entertainment Prize at Butlins, judged by the Redcoats - who, after all, can be expected to have a reasonable idea what constitutes an entertaining stage show from the general public's point of view, it's their job. They were placed way down the pecking order by the music judges, however - which kind of indicates that what banders find entertaining, and what paying customers find entertaining, are NOT neccesarily the same thing. The occasional "bizarre decision" does no harm if it reminds us that there's an audience outside the bandroom and their opinion matters.
  10. MrB

    MrB New Member

    Morning All,
    I have to agree, entertainment concerts are definantly focused on the music, but (as has been said frequently) the audience are there to be entertained, not educated.
    If we wanted to perform contest to educate then roll out Swoard Jewel and Mirror.
    At the end of the day if the band plays well and the 'entertainment' factor doesn't detract or is OTT then why not bring some merriment into it?

    (Oh.. and yesterdays juggling was to a 12bar refrain from the circus tune (di di didididi di di deeee di) that lasted all of 10 seconds with a carefully choreographed drop (that's my excuse anyway).. but it did get a chuckle from the audience!! )

    But I must agree with PeterG, entertaining to brass bander's (players and hardcore) could be, and is completely different to entertaining to the general public. so what do you go for... the majority which tends to be general non-playing public or the smaller number of brass enphusiasts who come along.
    I know what I'd prefer!
  11. Toxophile

    Toxophile Member

    I agree to an extent with what you say MrB, I am not saying that the entertainment content should not be there, what I am wondering is when does it start to detract from the performance. As a player I find the standing up and sitting down a bit pointless, as a spectator I find it looks very dated.

    The clip on the net of John Doyle and Richard Marshall dancing across the stage at the Europeans is amusing the first time you see it but loses its shine after a few viewings. I suspect that audiences presented with the same act again would feel a little cheated or bored; "we've seen that before". If we see something like this going down well, then there is a temptation to see it as a way forward; we all follow trends of what we think is successful. The danger then lies in taking things too far and coming out with something that comes across as artificial and unfunny; the band playing for laughs and not quite pulling it off and the audience feeling uncomfortable.

    I would hazard a guess that the majority of attendees at Brass Band events are actually Brass Band fans and members of the players families. Your average member of the general public is unlikely to simply decide to go to a band concert unless they have an interest in brass bands, many of them want to go along and hear a march, an overture, a solo, something popular and modern and finishing off with an old favourite like the Floral Dance.

    It is possible to be entertaining and humourous without going too far. Grimethorpe playing the Cuckoo is a case in question. I'm not suggesting the concert or entertainment contest programme should be serious and learned, there are plenty entertaining musical pieces out there. Can I turn the question round, should we be educating the Brass Band listener into a new definition of what is entertaining? There is a place for going OTT, the Mnozil Brass are a case in question. What I am saying is if you are going to do it, make sure it adds to the performance.

    BTW. Do I detect the spreading of the influence of StuartW in the di di didididi di di deeee di? Not a case of the roll roll bash roll roll bash is it :)
  12. MrB

    MrB New Member

    Hahaha.. maybe.. the roll roll BASH I think is firmly implanted in the subconscious mind after that week!

    I agree with what you say though... but surely.. How do you know when OTT is reached until you exceed that point?

    I remember going to a fairly high class band many years ago, they played the Bass trom solo 'Wandering Star'. at the cadenza when the soloist goe off on one with old school tunz (with a Z!!) they had people reading papers.. even the uphopnium section came out , unrolled sleeping bags and had a kip!!! went down well in the spirit intended but when the same gag went off at the second concert it got less appreciative.

    I think the best thing to do is knowing where the limit is.. Indeed you don't want to get into cringeworthy teritory, but similally you want to get at least a couple of laughs if it's supposed to be funny.

    At the end of the day though it all comes down to the music and how it's played. You play good music well, then you have to be happy with that.
  13. DublinBass

    DublinBass Supporting Member

    After reading through some more of the posts on this thread, some widsdom has come to mind.

    Why do people go to live performances...

    1) To hear pieces they know and like. If people went to a Coldplay concert and there was no Viva La Vida, there would be outrage.

    2) Spontaneity (or at least perceived spontaneity) is what makes a alive performance ...live. If the act has been done exactly the same before (or even appears that way) things don't go as well. Look at Spike Jones, Ronnie & Ronnie, Monty Python, or the Muppets. Some was made up on the spot, and what wasn't felt like it was.

    3) People like to hear amazing virtuosity...they want to hear people do things they couldn't do.

    I worry that if brass banders try to entertain brass banders (and not Joe Public) at entertainment contests, we will continue to alienate the general public and reduce our potential audience for years to come leading us into more obscurity
  14. ploughboy

    ploughboy Active Member

    I throughly agree with the above comments about standing up - unless something is gained by it.
    At the Otley contest the Otley band finished with a march medley (Sousa and Co.), lots of marches crushed together by David Lancaster. Different sections stood to play their feature, no problem with this but, there were bandsmen raising their stands to see the music, or bending right over, by the end you couldn't see the band sat down for the highered stands. If you're standing up, learn your 5 bars, it looks so much classier! York RI also did a cornet feature with 6/7 stood across the front of the band, but again all you could see was 6 stands.

    I didn't mind the juggling It kinda fitted, wasn't so keen on the cornet section squabbling at the start of one of the pieces, came across as scripted and a bit stiff. But again this is just my opinion.

    As Roy Sparkes said at Whychavon last year, "find the entertainment in the music", don't wear a hat for the sake of wearing a hat!

    While i'm on the subject, I was dissapointed with some of the entertainment at Butlins Top Section contest this year, so much was copied straight from the last two Brass in Concert's, Are the very top bands the only ones capable of coming up with something new and different. With reference to the Wire Brass win of most entertaining prize, speaking to one of there players on the day, they knew they didn't have a realistic chance on the music, but went all out for the entertainment prize (£1000 too!!) and didn't worry about the music, it was good, but they did only play 4 pieces in their slot!

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