How do you like your regional test piece?

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by julian, Jan 6, 2018.

  1. Euphonium Lite

    Euphonium Lite Active Member

    Not sure I totally agree that there is no technical challenge here. Maybe not the same sort of test as Rhapsody or Maccabeus, but the breath control required in the 2nd movement along with being able to play at ppp is just as much of a test in its own way - if not more so (I know plenty of players that can play fast and loud, but cant play uber quietly). The solos should be playable enough for the solo cornet and euph, but the syncopated rhythms in cornets horns and trombones in the 3rd movement has the ability to trip an unwary band up. And how many bands will get the opening quaver chord (after the semi run up) together and bang in tune? Beyond that, there are a lot of repeated phrases and rhythms going on across the band - are they going to be consistent? All of these are "technical" aspects - I agree that a decent 2nd section band should have little problem with them, but then a decent 2nd section band shouldnt have too many issues with any test pieces at this level - even Maccabeus and Rhapsody.
    One other point - you mention that if the bands can play "the notes" it makes results more of a lottery - surely having a testpiece where some bands cant play the notes defeats the object of a graded test? Its like setting the 3rd movement of the Haydn or Hummel trumpet concertos for a grade 3 student - you may get the odd one that can make a reasonable fist of it, but for others it will be purely an exercise in demoralising. And I dont think there is much mileage in doing that
    mikelyons likes this.
  2. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    In my observation, the least quibbled with result tables occur when a piece is set that roughly one third of the bands can nail, one third can bluff, and the other third struggle with.

    Technically hard pieces might be potentially demoralising for those at the bottom of a section, but they leave everybody feeling fairly treated. In contrast, less technically hard pieces often result in eye-catchingly unexpected placings (good band seemingly played well, came down the bottom, that kind of thing), and at the Area unsuitable promotions and relegations.
    stevetrom, Tom-King and 4th Cornet like this.
  3. 4th Cornet

    4th Cornet Active Member

    I agree.

    On the point of difficult pieces demoralising the less capable bands, from my experience even when a piece does stretch beyond the abilities of a band initially, they bluff it to the point where they are blind to the fact that they can't play sections properly. I've been in that situation and it's not until you hear a recording a few years later that you realise how low standard it was.
  4. Tom-King

    Tom-King Well-Known Member

    I agree that there's skill and technique involved in what you describe...

    However, experience tells me that such tests don't lead to results that can be generally agreed upon in the hall - it becomes much more subjective... And personally I'm not keen on that.

    The point isn't to be demoralising - an exam paper set for school kids isn't supposed to be demoralising, but it consists of various levels of difficulty and some of it will be beyond some of the kids, it's the only way the most able (and/or best prepared) can be distinguished from the rest... It's the only fair way.

    I agree with you completely that quiet playing is incredibly difficult - it is at any level... But there's more to it than just putting out a piece with PPP markings and seeing who survives it - you'll find more often than not that bands that play way too loudly in quiet passages can quite often do well (minimal punishment for it) whilst those that try and don't quite manage it are often penalised.
    mikelyons, Mesmerist and 4th Cornet like this.
  5. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    From what I heard at Butlins, something like that happened! My main gripe with Ex terra is incorrect use of musical terms - tutti (after a divisi passage - not even after a solo) instead of a2. I know it's a small thing, but it enrages my OCD! :)

    With apologies for the late edit, I forgot to quote what I was referring to in this post!
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2018
    Euphonium Lite likes this.
  6. Queeg2000

    Queeg2000 Active Member

    My OCD picked up on a section with a cup mute in Napoleon, with the 'open' mark, followed a few bars later with another 'open' on the 3rd cornet part.
    Euphonium Lite and mikelyons like this.
  7. 4th Cornet

    4th Cornet Active Member

    That's lazy engraving which is sadly all too prevalent these days.
    Slider1 likes this.
  8. Euphonium Lite

    Euphonium Lite Active Member

    I think its something that is way too prevalent nowadays, not just from an OCD point of view but even getting notation right. I know Andrew Baker does a guarantee where if parts are not right they will reprint for free but unfortunately it seems to be all too common for many publishers to get the music out as quickly and cheaply as follows, which means typesetting and proof reading go out of the window. I won a free copy of an arrangement at Leicester contest - the typesetting on there is horrendous, even down to dynamics and metronome markings getting mixed up (one of the simpler ones had a dynamic of "fm"). Its an otherwise very good arrangement and the corrections are simple enough to make but had I paid money for it I'm not sure I would have been quite so accepting
    Slider1 likes this.
  9. John Brooks

    John Brooks Well-Known Member

    Isn't fm the acronym for "Faulty Manuscript"?
    Suzi Q likes this.
  10. Slider1

    Slider1 Active Member

    More to do with Cut & Paste nowadays
  11. 4th Cornet

    4th Cornet Active Member

    That's one example, yes.
  12. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    Well, it may not be "engraving" in the traditional sense (punches and metal plates), but it's still justifiable to refer to "lazy computerised typesetting" ...
  13. Suzi Q

    Suzi Q Member

    A lot of stuff seems to be done on Sibelius or Finale too, which can lead to some weird things, like getting louder markings (the arrow things) getting much wider and therefore suggesting much louder than the composer probably intends, or weird accidental like d#s when the keysignature and line of music suggests it should be written as Eb. I hate unchecked Sibelius.
  14. John Brooks

    John Brooks Well-Known Member

    I guess it doesn't come with "spell check" or the musical equivalent? Maybe with Sibelius version 99.9!
    Slider1 and Suzi Q like this.
  15. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    A tool's only as good as the user of it. If the composer never learned musical grammar to the needed extent, then Sibelius (other music notation programs are available...) is going to let them produce ungrammatical stuff beautifully.

    Plug-ins are available to check various things (e.g. for parallel fifths in part-writing). I suspect it's only a matter of (not much) time until these tools will automatically highlight dodgy-looking enharmonic spellings for you. They may already - I haven't checked...
    mikelyons and Suzi Q like this.
  16. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    Sibelius certainly has a feature than can mimimise (but not entirely eradicate) incorrect spellings of accidentals. As Moomin says, a tool is only as good as its user.
  17. justonecornet

    justonecornet New Member

    I'm enjoying World Tour, and completely agree with the comments above about challenges being physical as well as technical. It's really forcing me (as a 3rd cornet player) to think about and develop fundamentals surrounding breathing technique, which can only be a good thing ...
    Repman likes this.
  18. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    Yep - partly because of my own frustration as a player and a conductor with everything from dodgy page turns to incorrect transpositions. I can think of at least two recent area pieces where I've gone through them before starting to work on them and found dozens and dozens of errors. I'm by no means immune to cocking up, and one customer HAS taken advantage of the guarantee to get a replacement BBb bass part, but so far I think that's all.

    I love a good parallel fifth.

    It's very easy to blame "modern software" for a perceived lack of quality in typesetting, but it's worth noting that Vinter's works, all engraved in the 60s allegedly by old school craftsmen, are notoriously often riddled with errors. As Dave says, the software is a tool. If your nail is in the wrong place, it's a bit harsh to blame those damned new-fangled hammers. And if you need a plug-in to identify poorly-spelled accidentals then a little more time with harmony theory books is going to be more help in the long run!

    I also find it a bit frustrating when people use "cut and paste" pejoratively. Composers have ALWAYS done that - that's what ternary form, sonata form, rondo form and fugue (to name but a few) rely on, and I'll bet Bach and Mozart would have grabbed your hand off if you offered them a way to write out lengthy recapitulations with a few mouse clicks. That doesn't lessen the quaility of their work. Again, blaming the tool for the perceived quality of the workmanship is to miss the point. Typesetting software just makes the production of printed music easier, and therefore more accessible to the amateur, just as Microsoft Publisher does for design work and Word does for writing. Modern software isn't responsible for content, it has merely democratised the ability to create that content. Whether that democratisation has been a universally good thing is a big socio-political question ...
    mikelyons, PeterBale and MoominDave like this.
  19. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Well, that's the nub of it, right enough. I don't believe there's a Sibelius plug-in that distinguishes bad parallel fifths from good ones...
  20. sop@55

    sop@55 Member

    This thread has definitely gotten tangled! Has anyone started a specific thread on Napoleon? It's just a repeated comment in the band room that the piece is particularly demanding on stamina for some. Yup, me on flug in particular "I" to "N". Or am I being a wimp? Buy 10pm after 2 hours on it (plus a few hymns and The Contestor) I am struggling with the 2 bar ff top f !!!!!! any thoughts ..besides another hour a day on Arban pages 20/21 ex 46 !!!!!!