Interesting Press Announcement from ABBA

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Roger Thorne, Jan 2, 2008.

  1. Roger Thorne

    Roger Thorne Active Member

    courtesy of 4BR -

    ABBA make percussion statement
    The Association of Brass Band Adjudicators have given a statement on percussion in the lower sections.

    The Chairman and Executive of ABBA has made the following annoucnement in respect to the performance of percussion at the 2008 Regional Championships.


    Further to our Annual General Meeting of yesterday 30.12.2007 where many adjudicators voiced their concerns and opinions over the playing of percussion parts in contests, especially within the lower sections. The Association of Brass Band Adjudicators wishes to make the following announcement.

    "Whilst we understand there may be a shortage of percussionists, or lack of access to percussion equipment for rehearsal purposes, we do expect the percussion parts to be played as per the score, unless otherwise directed"

    We do suggest that bands should seek the guidance and assurance from the respective bodies, as to who may or who may not play percussion; and how many performers are allowed on stage for a contest performance.

    We respectfully point out to all bands, especially to lower section bands, that there are many other pit-falls and problems on contest pieces they have to overcome, and the use, or lack of use of percussion, is not necessarily the deciding factor of prize winning performances."

    Derek Broadbent (Chairman)

    I love the last paragraph. They've certainly covered their backsides on this one. :clap:

    What does concern me here is the selection of the 3rd section piece 'The Dark Side of the Moon'. Written for Brass Band and Percussion - (big letters on front of score!) This is a really well written descriptive work and in my opinion (and no doubt the composers) the percussion plays an integral part of the composition. So how can the adjudicators say "and the use, or lack of use of percussion, is not necessarily the deciding factor of prize winning performances."

    Another point which concerns me is the lack of percussion instruments in bands. If Bands have decided to contest, why haven't they got the basic necessary equipment to do so. I wonder how much influence a recent post by an adjudicator/conductor on tMP had regarding the decisions made by the ABBA?

    And where is all this going to end. We have music being selected by one organisation only to be told by another independant body that this music isn't going to be judged in its entirety.

    No wonder the ABBA understands that there is a shortage of percussionists, they are actually causing the problem.

  2. fugee

    fugee New Member

    And as pointed out elsewhere.... theyve made a statement to say the xylo parts in the 2nd Section piece dont need to be played!! Is this a contradiction?
  3. WhatSharp?

    WhatSharp? Active Member

    I'm confused.... do they want percussion played or not as :

    "Whilst we understand there may be a shortage of percussionists, or lack of access to percussion equipment for rehearsal purposes, we do expect the percussion parts to be played as per the score, unless otherwise directed"

    Seems to indicate that they do but :

    "We respectfully point out to all bands, especially to lower section bands, that there are many other pit-falls and problems on contest pieces they have to overcome, and the use, or lack of use of percussion, is not necessarily the deciding factor of prize winning performances."

    Would seem to indicate that it's doesn't matter whether you play it or not.

    I hear they used to be indecisive but apparently now they're not so sure...
  4. Dago

    Dago Member

    I think its perfectly clear - "we do expect the percussion parts to be played as per the score, unless otherwise directed" - ABBA say that the parts must be played as per the score, just as the soprano part etc.. should be played. Kapitol have directed that the Xylophone part is not to be played therefore the adjudicator will ignore this part in his/her adudication.

    As to "the use, or lack of use of percussion, is not necessarily the deciding factor of prize winning performances" - yes its an overall performance, rather than an error count!
  5. andyp

    andyp Active Member

    This debate is as old as the hills, and no-one's ever come up with a satisfactory solution.

    A band lacking in funds is unlikely to sanction the purchase of a £2000-3000 xylophone, potentially to be used for just one contest. That's even assuming they can find someone capable of playing the thing properly, it's a bit unfair to borrow one 4 weeks before and expect someone to learn it.

    [The 3 most difficult players to find in lower section banding are tuned percussionists, bass troms and bass players under the age of 21!]

    Personally I think either you choose a piece with percussion in, adjudicate it accordingly (so the percussion playing does affect the result in the same way as any other instrument) and if the band can't get an instrument or player then they suffer, same as if you can't get a bass trom, etc. Or you accept that lower section bands have difficulty with these things and select pieces with less percussion.

    Fudging the issue benefits nobody in the end and just leads to more arguing and confusion. Why have percussion and not adjudicate on it? That's just barking. You could have a situation where a timp player (say) comes in a whole beat early, fff, ruins the passage completely, but if the rest of the band carries on perfectly they still win. Not right.
    Or the even more ludicrous possibility of a band deliberately contesting without percussion, on the grounds that "if it ain't there it can't go wrong!!.

    This is one of those occasions where trying to please everyone just results in making things worse for everyone.
  6. DaveR

    DaveR Active Member

    Rubbish. That would never happen. We timp players are always right, it's just the rest of the band are sometimes a beat late! :rolleyes: :tongue:
  7. Sandy Smith

    Sandy Smith Member

    Is this a case of trying not to discourage bands without a full percussion complement from entering the contest in the first place ?
  8. Roger Thorne

    Roger Thorne Active Member

    But there is a satisfactory solution. The Music Selection Panel pick the Test Pieces. The adjudicators are employed by the various associations to judge the performances and the judge(s) select (in their opinion) the best performance/winner.

    You've already hit the nail on the head with your comment here . . . .

  9. Lawrencediana

    Lawrencediana Member

    Without trying to be too controvertial we went to a recent contest where the percussion parts were an integral part of the piece and written for 4 percussionists and the winning band had 1 percussionist. If we allow percussion into the band then surely they have to be judged as if they are part of the band.
  10. Roger Thorne

    Roger Thorne Active Member

    Thank You Mr. Adjudicator! . . . . but on who's recommendation did Kapitol make this decision?

    What about bands without full cornet or bass sections?

    It could well be the case Sandy, and if so, shouldn't the likes of the ABBA be encouraging Kapital to change the rules of registration rather than discouraging percussionists from actually taking part in these events.
  11. andyp

    andyp Active Member

    If this goes on you'll get a vicious circle, if you don't need percussionists bands won't train/recruit them, so there won't be as many, so bands will complain when test pieces need more percussionists, so organisers will get adjudicators to disregard the percussion, so you don't need percussionists.....

    Surely the percussion requirement should be adjusted to fit the level, e.g. no xylos till 2nd section, no more than 2 required in the 4th, etc?

    Love to see what an adjudicator would make of "Laudate Dominum" without any percussion at all...............!!
  12. David Mann

    David Mann Member

    Perhaps there should be more consistency in what should be available, especially in 3rd and 4th sections. With the brass instruments you can expect one sop, one bass trom etc, and nearly all concert and contest works comply with this. With percussion it might be reasonable to expect two players, even that one plays kit / untuned and one plays tuned / timps. If then, one set piece needs only one player and the next keeps 4 players busy, how is that to be resolved? What if a contest piece was written with 3 soprano parts or mellophone parts? (I know 2 Flugels has been done - Dances and Arias?)
  13. Sandy Smith

    Sandy Smith Member

    Any band with a player or two missing will cover any relevant parts using other players ( sound of other can of worms being opened ).

    Missing percussion parts are a different thing all together.

    Perhaps the powers that be are deliberately hedging their bets on this issue least bands with percussion parts missing,either through lack of instruments or players,having read a statement to the effect that they will be penalised without question over the issue decide just to withdraw from the contest.

    Or is this just too obtuse ?
  14. GJacko

    GJacko Member

    Why not just pick suitable test pieces? There are enough suitable and in print,
  15. brassintheed

    brassintheed Member

    In my view, if we are to judge a band (or any other musical organisation ) on the playing of a piece then we should abide by what is written on the score. Presumably the composer wrote the percussion parts for a reason other than just wanting to give them something to do.

    However, it is more often than not that a winning band has played different tempos, different dynamics, even different 'orchestration'.

    So if a band wishes to change what is written on the score (eg play the finale much faster, or miss out parts of the percussion) then they do so a their own risk, and the judges will either like it or not.

    Until the playing is judged with metronomes and decibel meters (and maybe even computerised 'part analysis') then these variables will always come into play. Can anyone listen to every single part on a contest performance and be able to tell if any single note is missed somewhere?

    And I think that's probably a good thing. So the announcement is worded to satisfy everyone - those who want the rules to be exact, those who can't meet the exact score requirements, and those who don't believe music should be played that way anyway.

    Basically what they're saying is that it comes down to the adjudicators judgement on the day. They wouldn't ever release an announcement saying that if you vary from the written tempo then you will lose.... it would be something like "tempos are normally expected to be followed approximately, although is not necessarily the deciding factor of prize winning performances" which i think is probably fair.
  16. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    By "suitable test pieces" do you mean ones with little or nothing for the percussion to do? As Roger says, the way to develop percussion in the band is by increasing their involvement, making sure they have plenty to occupy them in both concert and contest planning, so that they become on an equal setting with any other section of the band.

    I'd love to see the soloist's prize at one of our contests awarded to a percussionist, and there are certainly plenty of xylophone players in particular who would richly deserve it.
  17. Masterblaster jnr

    Masterblaster jnr Active Member

    I think what GJacko means is a piece with sensible amounts of percussion in relation to the amount of band music in the piece.
  18. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    I think it would have helped if the score didn't print the word 'optional' on it! Either leave it in (to get played) or remove the part completely if it isn't necessary for performance.
  19. drummergurl

    drummergurl Active Member

    here's an interesting concept for you all to ponder over, thought up by me and my mum in the car on the way to manchester the other day, so there's many issues to iron out with the idea. percussionists are forever in short supply (or at least half decent ones), and look at the test pieces for the area's this year. championship need 3 at the most sort of decent players, there's nothing particularly challenging from my quick read of the parts. then you get the 2nd section piece which from my understanding needs at least 3 decent percussionists and a very capable xylophone player. now i do know that this part has been discounted and does not need to be played as part of the performance, but this makes it an untrue performance of the original piece.

    there have been pieces for championship section requiring at least 6 players (think rienzi).

    what if, they changed the rules of registration involving percussionists. what if they changed it so that those 6 all signed with championship section bands could play with the lower sections should their piece require it?

    from my understanding this year the 2nd section piece has a solid xylo part that needs a good player who knows what they're doing. really the only places you find this standard of player are music colleges and top flight bands.

    so to compromise on this lack of percussionists, what about changing the rules to allow percussionists to play in any section of banding.

    i know there would be all those brass players who want to know why percussionists can get special treatment, but you try finding decent percussionists who have half the gear you don't (or could get hold of the gear) and who have an idea how to play it too. honestly, there aren't that many around, and in my opinion it would do the lower section percussionists a world of good. they would have someone around who could help them along with their parts, particularly those younger up and coming members of a percussion section.

    but to go with this, should something like this be implemented, adjudicators should be alerted to the fact that this standard of percussionist is being used and should be taken into account.

    interesting concept? i think so
  20. GJacko

    GJacko Member

    Sorry, the comment was a little tongue in cheek and a bit broader than just the percussion issue. We're quite lucky. My son plays persussion and we have a very reliable tuned percussionist as well as access to a very capable student. All registered with the band for some time. I suspect we would have managed OK. My point on the original post I made regarding this subject was the "ad libitum" statement made in the second section Regionals 2008 test piece.

    In fact the ABBA statement does not cover this at all. The ad lib is a composers note, not an ABBA note and, to be honest, I'm still confused. Imagine writing as ad lib sop part. Is that optional Jazz or something?

    My point is that the music selection panels, when making their choice have full access to the score and, in my opinion, the markings mentioned on this piece make it unsuitable. Contesting and adjudication are very subjective issues without making them worse.

    May as well be own choice!


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