Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by peps, Feb 27, 2008.

  1. peps

    peps New Member

    Has anyone been in a band that have changed their seating format to try and get new sounds or more balanced sounds?

    In the pub last week after rehearsal we had a large debate over whether or not the seating arrangements in the band were ideal or not...and decided that the only way to find out is to experiment. Hence, we drew up a list of potential ideas to try out next week to see if it makes any difference to the sound. An example being to get horns, baritones and euphs to sit were the cornets are so that their bells are pointing outward slightly more.

    Just wondering if anyone's band has tried this or not and whether it was successful.
  2. Fazed Song

    Fazed Song New Member

    Mate in my experience, sit a band one of the few usual ways and keep it like that. The players will get better as a result consistancy. The odd piece requires a band to sit differently for various reasons, but in the main, pick a tried and tested formation, and stick with it... no need to tinker.
  3. cornetcheese

    cornetcheese Member

    I've tried a few different formations in the past, but I've only found two that tend to work for me, standard formation with euphs/baris facing cornets and the setup with euphs/baris in front of basses and flugel facing the front row. Every other setup I've experimented with has been fiendishly difficult to balance properly!

    I do remember seeing a 4th section band at the areas up north who had basses turned out to the audience, back row cornets facing out and solo cornets facing the back wall once - the end result was quite interesting!!

    They came last incidentally!
  4. Fazed Song

    Fazed Song New Member

    The only massive change I can remember was when it suddenly occoured to Dick Evans that in order to win at the Albert Hall, apart from generally playing well as a band, you essentially need to blow your nads off.

    The next year he sat his band (BNFL) in a virtual line! Funnily enough, I think they come 6th or something... which was very good for them at the time I seem to recall.

    Sorry a pointless little anecdote.. Keep it standard and consistant
  5. tubafran

    tubafran Active Member

    I think I've played in 3 "standard" band formations but only moving sections were horns, euphs and baris.

    a) flugel and horns in front of troms circling round towards bottom of front row, with euphs and baris behind (current KSB formation)

    b) euphs and baris swoped with horns (current BBSBB formation)

    c) horns at front facing forward with euphs & baris behind and basses behind them (not seen this for many years)

    Non-standard would have been for a big band/swing set with just about all instruments facing forward

    Cornets where basses normally are
    Troms in front facing forward
    Basses where troms would normally be (although only section playing away from audience)
    Horns in front row cornet seats
    Euphs & baris in back row cornet seats
    Kit can be put in centre of band in this formation - ala Buddy Rich
  6. I think the fact that band formations have changed very little over the last 100 years is a sign that 'if it aint broke........'

    But I think as others have said there are a few different variations which are common. As a horn player i've always prefered the solo horn at the cornet end, but I know a lot of bands sit the other way. One thing i've never liked is the flugel sitting on the back row, it can get swamped by the cornet sound. Although if you've got a loud flugel player when sitting in the horns they can become very prominent as the only player 'pointing out'!

    And personally id rather the trombones faced the back wall, but that's another story......................
  7. andywooler

    andywooler Supporting Member

    I have used different formations from time to time - mainly to resolve balance issues between weaker/stronger sections. (Generally this has been around the horn/bari/euph lines).
  8. DaveR

    DaveR Active Member

    As an MD I experimented several times. I've tried putting the solo cornets on the "back row" so that they play down the ears of the less experienced back row and give them a boost of confidence.

    I've also (most drastically!) had the cornets on my right, trombones in front of me, and everyone else on my left, (horns nearest, then euphs baris and basses at the back). That works quite well because there is nowhere to hide (everyone's bells face outwards), and the MD can hear everything! It also means that even the quietest players can be heard. It takes a bit of getting used to from the players point of view, but I rather like that format.
  9. hicks

    hicks Member

    Did you use that in a performance situation? I would have thought trombones blasting straight at the audience is not ideal.
  10. tam-tam2

    tam-tam2 Member

    A few years ago when playing Voyage of Discovery with Graham O'Connor, due various reasons I won't go into now we played with trombones where the back row normally are, horns where solo cornets usually are, euphs and baries in the middle (basses behind) - back row where trombones are normally found and solo cornets in front. It was interesting!
  11. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    Generally I'd agree that the traditional formations work best. Either horns opposite cornets and euphs/baris in the middle, or euphs/baris opposite cornets and horns in the middle.

    If I had to chose myself, I'd pick the former, with the flugel on the end of the line, as it puts the whole horn/baritone section as one line, and allows the low brass to hear each other better.

    If using the latter formation, from my experience it seems to work best with the solo horn and flugel together at the bottom of the cornet line, and the 2nd horn and 2nd bari together. This does make it difficult for the lower horns to hear the solo horn, but easier for them to hear the baritones, so either way is a trade-off.

    Sometimes for a really old-school piece it might be worth sitting rep and flugel together as they play off the same part in a lot of old pieces, but that depends what each has to play.

    In fact a lot would depend on how any particular piece was scored as to which formation would work best, but I'd say the largely standard two formations probably work the best overall.

    They're like the 4-4-2 and 4-3-3 of brass banding. Solid, versatile and adaptable.
  12. millie6589

    millie6589 Member

    we keep changing the format but it is usually a case of just swapping the horns and (when we have one) the flugel around.we used to have flugel following on from front row cornets then solo, 1st, 2nd horn but then we changed to the (proper) arrangement and now no one can make up their minds as to where they want to/should be!

  13. yeah i've played in a band where we horns used to switch around on an almost weekly basis!

    even in the top bands there are a few different line ups around so its whats suits the individual band i suppose
  14. JesTperfect!

    JesTperfect! Member

    If it ain't broke, don't fix it!!

    I'm always saying that we need a bit of innovation in banding, otherwise, how will it survive? None of they coming younger generations will want to play for something past its sell-by date.


    Traditional formations work. Don't mess! : )
  15. on_castors

    on_castors Member

    Now he wouldn't have been a one time Bass player by any chance, would he?

    Having played both Bass and Back Row Cornet myself, it's saying something I would be far too shy to say! ;-)
  16. Owen S

    Owen S Member

    We usually play with horns in the middle (2nd horn next to 4th man) and euphs and baris facing the cornets. We have played with flugel next to rep, particularly for Carnival at last year's area, which has a shared part plus a couple of duets between the two. We won, so it can't have been that bad an idea.

    We also changed at short notice for Butlins this year, swapping our horns with the euphs and baris, as our first horn currently has serious eye problems and it gave her the best chance of being able to follow the beat. Sometimes musicality isn't the only consideration for band formation.
  17. bbg

    bbg Member

    We use the fairly traditional horns-in-middle formation (flugel nearest cornets, 2nd tenor next to 2nd bari) but our individuality is that our sop sits as "5th man" on the front row cornets, next to the flugel. As in Owen's band's case, it's a personal issue - he has restricted hearing in his left ear so sitting on the end of the back row isn't particularly logical. There is an added effect of having the rep sitting in the "sop seat" - as a band we woud now fnd it quite strange to sit any other way.
  18. DaveR

    DaveR Active Member

    Yes I did - but I should probably say that this was a 4th section / ungraded band that was far from being at full strength and I'd quite often only have one trombone anyway! In fact, although they were facing the front, the trombones would quite often have the end of the horn line in front of them anyway due to the fact I had a lot of horns at the time!

    I see what you're saying, but in fact it wasn't too bad.
  19. Bayerd

    Bayerd Active Member

    We regularly do numbers pointing straight from the 'horn' position. You just need to remember where you're sat and adjust accordingly. Besides, the bone sections in most orchestras also point straight out.
  20. andyp

    andyp Active Member

    I think iirc Kirkintilloch used a "four lines all facing forward" kind of formation at the RAH one year (1999?) - test piece was Derek Bourgeouis' Concerto No.1 for Brass Band, anyway. Not sure why unless to get "more noise" as Fazed Song mentioned. They didn't win iirc either.

    Unless it suits a specific piece I'd leave well alone.
    Only other one I can remember, doing big band stuff with troms centre and cornets in a semicircle right around the back, sop in the centre. Basses don't like that one, not used to sound that loud (and high!) coming from behind them!

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