How Long is a Test Piece?

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by DublinBass, Nov 5, 2004.

  1. DublinBass

    DublinBass Supporting Member

    Does anybody know what are the either actual limits or generally accepted limits for a test piece. There seem to be so many own choice contests that surely there must be some official limit?

    I'm guessing 11-14 minutes, but not sure.
  2. Naomi McFadyen

    Naomi McFadyen New Member

    Don't know about any "official limit" as such... but I'd say anything between 9 and 15 minutes.
  3. Pythagoras

    Pythagoras Active Member

    The first and championship section pieces at Pontins must have been longer than that! Or maybe they were just so hard to listen to that time slowed down.
  4. ukdrummerboy

    ukdrummerboy Member

    "Fantasy for Brass Band" by Malcolm Arnold was only 8 mins long, and this was used as the test piece for the 1st section National Finals 2001
  5. Robb

    Robb New Member

    Actually Arnold's 'Fantasy' can be over 10 minutes... And recently, 'Tristan' and 'Enigma' have both been over 17!
  6. WoodenFlugel

    WoodenFlugel Moderator Staff Member

    I'm not aware of any set limits to the length of "test" pieces, either how short or how long. Apart from Tristen and Enigma the other "longy" which springs to mind is Cloudcatcher Fells, which must be over 20 mins (please feel free to correct me here - it's been so long since I heard it I can't remember which side of 20 mins it is)

    Well speaking personally, London Overture and Dances and Arias are two of my favorite pieces, and I enoyed listening to them both being played so well. :)
  7. Naomi McFadyen

    Naomi McFadyen New Member

    Any piece can be longer than "it should be".... all down to interpretations.... obviously... :lol:
  8. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    Howard Snell's recording of "Cloudcatcher Fells" is timed at 16.37, whilst Edward Gregson's "Of men and mountains", notoriously turned down by the Nationals(?) due to its length, is 17.57. By and large, I think duration is less of a problem for the organisers in an Own Choice Contest than it would be trying to schedule 20 performances of the Bourgeois "Concerto Grosso", for example, which does run to 20 minutes in length.
  9. WoodenFlugel

    WoodenFlugel Moderator Staff Member

    Thanks Peter - I was sure Cloudcatcher was longer than that. :-? Still, as I said, it has been a while...
  10. Robb

    Robb New Member

    Yes - but a performance of 'Fantasy' that lasted 15 minutes, say, would be pretty weird to listen to!

    Having said that, 'All the flowers of the mountain' certainly seems to have got some wildy different length performances...
  11. Pythagoras

    Pythagoras Active Member

    Might have been better if I'd known them before (and was also less hungover).
  12. ukdrummerboy

    ukdrummerboy Member

    Guess we played Fantasy for Brass Band, Tristan and the Enigma faster than they should have been! Got Tristan and Enigma well under 17mins! (and have the recording to proove it) We won on Fantasy, but that explains the poor result we got on the other two ;-)
  13. Robb

    Robb New Member

    Not at all - the fact you won on 'Fantasy' and we came second with a performance 2 minutes longer only proves the earlier point about interpretation. 'Vive la difference'!
  14. andyp

    andyp Active Member

    I've heard a 3rd section local contest (own choice) won by a band playing Peter Graham's "Shine As The Light", which on the CD I have is 7:57 long.
    Unless the contest rules specifiy time limits I reckon you can pretty much do any length of piece you want. Although if it was ridiculously short I'd expect to get penalised compared to a band playing a longer piece of equal difficulty. Be interesting for the adjudicator, though! To make up a silly example, how would you judge, say, Alex Owen's "Tristan And Isolde" (32 minutes+) against "Shine as the Light" or something even shorter?
  15. brasscrest

    brasscrest Active Member

    Would also be a bit difficult for the organizers to schedule, particularly if there was a random draw!

    The longer the piece, the more interpretation makes a difference.

    200 (4/4) measures (800 beats) @ 80 = 10 minutes

    200 (4/4) measures (800 beats) @ 100 = 8 minutes

    This is a 20% difference in the speed, which (in my opinion) is quite large, but is well within many conductors "interpretation" zone.
  16. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    Well, personally, I've wanted to use Edward Gregson's 'Patterns' as a lower section test piece for own choice contests but at some 6 minutes long, I've shied away from doing so on the grounds that it would be considered too short. I dare say one has to consider the following band and the length of time it may take to get the registration done! ;-)
  17. Craigsav83

    Craigsav83 Active Member

    Concerto Grosso and Revelation have been used at recent Europeans at c.20 and c.19 minutes recently.

    Notice that all next years pieces for the regionals are all about the 12 minute mark.

    For me, a Championship test piece should be about 15-18 minutes long, this tests the stamina of the best bands.

    For the record, The Four Noble Truths (Sparke) used as 4th section national piece this year is a good 16 minutes long - quite a blow for our standard of band!
  18. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    ... isn't there an antidote relating to a bandperson's memory and the length of a piece of music,... that after so many minutes the bander loses interest? Ironic that I can't remember it at this time, but maybe someone else can ... :-?
  19. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    When I recently submitted a piece to the national music selection committee, I was politely asked if I could tweak it to around 12 minutes (it was originally just over 16 minutes). I think the committee are trying to reduce the length of contests by keeping pieces shorter than they recently have been.

    I find it difficult to do that, as a piece generally lasts as long as it has to, if you see what I mean. Not that I write test pieces as a matter of course, it was just an accident and the result of a suggestion. Thanks Roger :)

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