Innovations in Banding.

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by marksmith, Apr 17, 2013.

  1. marksmith

    marksmith Active Member

    What, in your opinion, has been the greatest innovation in Banding, during your involvement?
    The introduction of the larger bore Sovereign instruments in the mid-seventies, is certainly amongst my own suggestions.
    As a Euphonium player, the difference in depth of tone, ease of note production and general enjoyment of playing, compared with the Imperial/Besson instruments of the time, felt immense.
    If my memory is correct, they cost £599 from Barratts of Manchester, and they could not supply them quickly enough! (I passed my driving test in '74 and my one year old Hillman Avenger cost £850, to give a comparison).
    The distinctive blue case, placed you amongst the envied 'elite', if you arrived at a contest carrying one, though the expectation may not have always been fulfilled by all owner-players!
    Still sought after, the original Sovereign (round stamp) instruments were ground-breakers, and set the standard for all future brass band instrument design.
  2. Bayerd

    Bayerd Active Member

    Before I opened this thread and could only see the title, I instantly thought 'one innovation I wish hadn't happened was the move to larger bore instruments'. Yes, they made alot of things easier, but boy did they take the vibrancy out of the sound at the same time. I far prefer the band sound up to the early seventies to the one after.

    I'd say valve slide triggers were a greater one, as they help players get in tune without distorting the sound as lipping can.

    Each to they're own I guess...
  3. Pauli Walnuts

    Pauli Walnuts Moderator Staff Member

    I'd have to agree with Bayerd - the triggers were a major step forward in improving intonation.
    The next great innovation for me were Vincent Bach mouthpieces - and the demise of the awful Kosicup!

    In terms of innovation in band arrangements, the arrival of people with a big band background such as Bill Geldard and Mark Freeh who moved us away from the rooty toot versions of big band charts that the likes of Edrich Siebert gave us.
  4. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    I've been banding since the age of 8, in 1987. Innovations in that period in banding? Hmm... It's been a period of retrenchment, a time when bands have stepped back from the excitement of the musical progress made in the 70s and 80s. Musically, we've retreated back into our comfort zone, and organisationally, we're in a mess at the moment.

    To my mind, the great British-style banding success story of the last 25 years has been the growth of brass banding in various non-traditional countries from marginal activities to notable musical movements. Belgium, The Netherlands, Norway, The USA; who's next? France and Germany maybe, both countries where the style is on the rise.

    The move to larger-bore instruments is an interesting one. I agree with Bayerd - the Sovereigns are easier to play than the old Imperials (bar the dodgy tuning up top on the euphs), but they lack the colourful sound that one gets through having to work at a narrower-bore tube. And they've induced something of an arms race in the loud dynamics, which is a problem in itself, with many bands now tending to play more loudly than their audiences want them to. If one listens to CWS Manchester razz through Life Divine (the famous 1959 recording is on YT), what we have sacrificed in terms of tone colour is very evident. But equally the advantages of instruments that are more forgiving to blow are also evident, and can be seen in the increased technical facility demanded in the years following the switch. We've gained and we've lost by the move, and it's hard to say whether what is now gone is worth less or more than that which we've now acquired.

    In terms of instrumental development, bass trombones have been revolutionised by the advent of valves that blow evenly enough that the player doesn't have to be constantly compensating for changed blowing resistances. It is noticeable to me that the expected standard on the instrument has risen in the time I've been playing it (since 1993), and not using a trombone with a decent modern valveset is a distinct technical handicap for a serious player (though of course one that can be overcome by practice) (*). The conical instruments have not really changed in that time span - banders still broadly use identical instrumental designs to those that that they used 25 years ago.

    (*) As a side note, it would be really interesting to downsize the bore of the modern bass trombone, and effectively put double free-flow valves on a modern large-bore tenor, along with a bass leadpipe and a bass bell. I think the results could be very appealing - powerful, focussed and broad without the tendency to tubbiness that many modern bass trombones have. Maybe we could even make the instrument in G...
  5. Bayerd

    Bayerd Active Member

    Open the wrap and alter the valve system on a Duo Gravis and you're almost there...
  6. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Stick a 4B slide on it, with a Duo Gravis leadpipe in the front. Then some Thayers/Hagmanns/Trubores.

    I'm thinking an easier way to do it might be to build a Rath R4 with an R9 bell, two dependent Hagmanns in tenor size, and an R9 leadpipe. With a bigger slide, you could call it a "Rath Duo Gravis"...
  7. marksmith

    marksmith Active Member

    One thing that does need some thought, is comfortable seating for players.
    Sitting for two hours at rehearsal, quite often leads to back/limb discomfort. As a player with Arthritis, I would appreciate some fixed cushioning to the seat, especially on the front lip. (Yes, I can take a cushion!)
    As for the bandstand seating!!! Folding, slatted, wooden constructions, angled backwards and flimsy in construction. Surely I am not alone in expecting one to explode underneath me on firm surfaces, or sink up to the seat on grass. Rubbish:mad:
  8. animal.22

    animal.22 Member

    Other band members turning up early to help set up and carry "perc" equipment was a revelation for me!!!!!! :clap:
  9. pbirch

    pbirch Member

    wheels on the tuba case was a good one for me, and I also think the realisation that girls could play brass instruments every bit as well as the boys (well it was innovative at the time :) )
  10. ploughboy

    ploughboy Active Member

    Contest organisers providing the majority of the percussion required on stage - gone are the days of humping everything you need around all the time! :)
  11. Fat_Bari

    Fat_Bari Member

    Since I started back in 1972 in a forth section band, I'll have to go for the introduction of percussion and people who can actually play it. Can't imagine going back to the days when the drum parts were used to kindle the fire. [​IMG]
  12. cockaigne

    cockaigne Member

    As a conductor, the biggest help to me is that almost everything (whether it's a test-piece or 'lollipop') now comes with a full score.

    It's a nightmare trying to rehearse even well-known works (such as a Mozart overture, for instance) when all you have to work off is a solo cornet copy with a very few random (and often less-than-useful) cues thrown in where there's room for them. Even a 'short score' of two or three staves, whilst it can be very effective if written out with care and forethought, often misses out a lot of detail and can lead to confusion in rehearsal.

    Typesetting score and parts by computer has by no means eliminated errors, but certainly makes for more legible parts and a more useful score - saving time and energy all round, IF (and only if!) it's been done well. Given the large extent and variety of music in any band's library, I'd say this has to be the biggest development for me - although it's by no means an innovation unique to the banding world, it has undoubtedly had a big impact here.
  13. Simes

    Simes Supporting Member

    Surely, the biggest innovation is the fact that actually very little has changed. I started to play in n 1972 - and since then, instruments have got bigger and heavier and some music is a bit more legible than it used to be - and we have an extra percussionist - and tuned percussion rather than a single snare drum and a gurt big bass drum.

    Other than that, I think Brass Bands have been very much set in aspic for that time.

    Musical innovations have very much passed us by, and no one has ever questioned the instruments or make up of a band.

    Conductors still think we are following them, when really the basses decide how much gusto is required ;-)
  14. Splitzer

    Splitzer Member

    The larger bore instruments have of course made the players jobs easier, but actually it has also changed the sound of a band massively. For the worse i feel.
  15. Gazabone

    Gazabone Member

    Really interesting to watch the YOUTUBE clip (someone posted a link eslwhere on TMP - thanks) of Grimethorpe's winning performance of Granada Band of the Year (think it was Granada, sorry if I've got it mixed up) in '72. Apart from most of the band (except cornets) using Imperials and the haircuts, remarkably little seems to have changed and perhaps that's a problem. They obviously played great but many brass bands seem stuck into the 1972 way of presenting themselves. In my view the way bands present themselves (in most cases) needs big improvement at grass roots level, there seems to be so little engagement between performers and audience. Brass in Concert presentations seem much better but how many bands put on shows like that? (forget the difficulty of the music or how well it's played, you don't have to be a triple tounging mega-player to look smart and smile at people). We tend to sit in very familiar formations wearing uniforms that might have been revolutionary 70 years ago but that was,.... well,...... 70 years ago.

    If we have to put on a full performance with all the chorography etc for the benefit of the 2 people in the audience then so be it - we won't attract fresh audiences until we give them something to watch, not just listen to. Additionally, see how much time is spent during a performace when the band is not playing and the conductor or MC is not talking to the audience, perhaps even has their back to them. How many times has an MD said to the audience, "Now we're going to play......", turn round and it's simply ages before a note is heard.

    Anyway, rant over and sorry if I've got slightly off-beam on this thread!
  16. marksmith

    marksmith Active Member

    An interesting comment, in more than one way.
    I played Imperials/Bessons for some time before the introduction of the 12" bell, Larger bore instruments. They were in no way difficult to play, and the sounds could match the full sound now produced by the majority of players, in the right player's hands (Lyndon Baglin, for example).
    I had major surgery on my right lung at the age of 19, leaving me with one full lung and what was rescued of my right lung.
    I had just been appointed Principal Euph at a fast rising Midlands band, and got back 'in the saddle' as soon as leaving hospital (against advice).
    The Imperial euph I was given, seemed to resist my attempts to fill it, despite adapting my technique to compensate for the loss of capacity, with Diaphragm 'support'.
    I was still fulfilling my role as a soloist, but unable to create a sound that I was totally happy with.
    My first Sovereign was a revelation in tone, but a real Mare to fill.
    It took me several months to adapt my playing again, having to use my Diaphragm like Organ Bellows, to fill the instrument across the range.
    Without empathetic, supportive Assistants, I would have been sunk, but the advantages of the larger bore, far outweighed the disadvantages.
    We are looking at innovation/advances in banding, the full spherical sound we have now surely reflects that?
    Some of the fifties/sixties recordings (though primitive in recording technology), still reflect thin, tinny sounds, which in modern terms would need the instrument bores to move down a rank (i.e euph to bari, bari to horn, -- etc.) How this can be perceived as better quality?
    The curvier modern band sound refects a 'bigger society' - bigger houses/cars/ shops/ people!!! That is innovation, through evolution, not necessarily better, not openly worse.
    Yes, the presentation of performance may be old-hat, but there is a comfort in maintaining some traditions (for some of us), but there are many innovative bands/M.Ds who are stretching the boundries and are breaking free of the traditional formats.
    'Horses for courses' I suggest, as I would not personally like things to change too much.
    ( Just out of interest, 37 years after my op', still capable and able to fill a Euph, not bad for someone advised to give it up at the time, by the Consultants ;)).
    Never say can't!
  17. ian perks

    ian perks Active Member

    Nothing worse than going to a concert outside and having cheap nasty seats to sit on for aprox 2hrs also at contests as well at times
  18. marksmith

    marksmith Active Member

    Even worse when you are sitting on them to play, Ian.
  19. GordonH

    GordonH Member

    The idea of the cornet was an instrument for leading community singing or playing vocal parts. Therefore a smaller instrument with vocalised stylings was the way it developed. What we have now is a curled up trumpet with a bit of a wide bell flare. We need that because a lot of the tutti cornet parts in test pieces are really trumpet parts.

    I says this as someone who plays both instruments. I just prefer cornets to be, well, cornets.
  20. halsasaurus

    halsasaurus Member

    Brass band Audiences

    I am a 1970's player that took a 20+ year break and returned to Banding in the 2000's. I remember that the usual Audiencees were in their senior years in the 1970's and 1980's and this seems to be the case now. I wondered whether there is a time in life when you suddenly become a lover of Brass Bands or, just like with Bus Passes, you are finally told that this has to be your main form of entertainment when your 65th year has been reached?
    What were our current audiences doing in the 1970's? It was not listening to Brass Bands


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