Listen to the Band - time for change or to go?

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Notebook, Jan 5, 2007.

  1. Notebook

    Notebook Member

    I've just listened to the first of this years LTTB's which was from Brass in Concert. Why did the producer feel justified in having Frank Renton speak over the music on four of the seven pieces broadcast, thus spoiling those pieces, for me at least? You'd never get away with it on Radio 3 and I'm talking about Jazz and World music programmes on that station.

    Having heard all of last years broadcasts, in my view, either there has to be a change of producer to one who knows about bands and bandspeople or the programme needs to be scrapped and replaced, probably by internet broadcasts - I don't think the BBC really cares that much about us anymore and I can't see them replacing it with anything.

    Looking at last years programmes around a quarter of the potential 52 broadcasts were filled with CD's, listeners requests, military or even no broadcasts at all. Even last weeks 'look back' contained items from CD's. And now when a live recording occurs we get snippets and not even the full performance. Last years first programme from the Open contained 5 minutes of Dyke and nearly 20 minutes of chat and snippets of everybody else, when we could have heard the whole performance of 'Vienna Nights' and if neccessary a small interview with Dr Nick.

    The quality is reducing year on year and sadly no-one seems bothered about our last regular nationwide broadcast. The BBC will say as usual that the programme caters for the general public and not just band officiando's. But that was only true years ago back in the hour long broadcasts on a Wednesday night with Charlie Chester, i.e. a radio name of many years standing who could pull an audience by his name as well as programme content. It is now a situation where the programme is only of intrest to bands people and supporters and not the wider public

    I'd be intrested on other peoples thoughts or if anbody cares about the programme anymore.
  2. Jasper

    Jasper Member

    Totally agree....spoilt completely.....but the cynic in me says it saves the BBC having to incur the wrath of the record companies around the copyright issue. Anyone that has a computer can record radio broadcasts (of which I'm sure the vast majority are for personal use only ) the BBC know that and take measures to ensure this can't happen by having Mr Renton for example harp on over the first 10 bars of our favourite piece on LTB.;)
  3. robcav

    robcav Member

    I totally agree with you and think it is shameful that our form of music making, which is probably the second biggest amateur form of music making in the country after choral singing, is not given a proper public forum. During the 80's there used to be some quality radio broadcasts of substantial works on radio 3 (I think it was on Friday at 7.30pm). Now, sadly, there is very little of any substance on any public broadcast radio, the reason for which must be, as you say, that the BBC doesn't care about this integral part of British amateur music making culture.
    I really enjoy listening to the so-called "World Music" programme 'Late Junction' on Radio 3 which gets seven hours air time per week. There is every kind of musical genre and grouping on that programme, probably including someone playing a kitchen sink. However, I have yet to hear a brass band performance of a serious work on that programme. Radio 3 might be regarded as a bit of a specialist and elitist forum to parade brass band music. But equally, Radio 2 is simply the wrong place for a serious brass band programme. Even the BBC 2 internet summary of 'what's on' this last week conveys, in my view, the wrong impression, certainly of the top flight of banding:

    "With live performances from brass and military bands and featuring the latest CD releases and favourite old recordings, the show gives a classy update to the old 'cloth cap' image of banding."

    It has to be almost 50 years since the majority of men wore cloth caps - or any kind of caps for that matter - on a regular basis. I know it's refering to our industrial heritage and suggesting that we've moved on from that era but we all know that, so why on earth must such references still be made? Maybe that's more the fault of the movement than it is the BBC. We seem to sit uneasily between a desire to be populist and a desire to be recognised as a specialist form of music making.
    There's no question in my mind that the best bands in the country (those that would feature regularly on a radio broadcast) are as good if not better, musically and in terms of entertainment value, than the best amateur choirs and orchestras (of course I'm biased and I am not decrying the efforts of the latter two forms of music making). By the same token it would be interesting to know how many radio programmes were devoted to amateur choirs and orchestras! I can't find any. So perhaps we should be thankful for the small crumbs of airtime that our movement receives.
    I'm with you though in your concern and call for action - improve the production values; cater for those thousands of us who care about brass bands; be prepared to admit that if we want to listen to the best of modern brass banding we might have to be regarded as specialist and work towards regaining a slot on radio 3; otherwise tell the BBC to forget about their half-hearted doffing of their own cloth cap in the direction of brass bands and leave it to someone who is in touch with the modern age of internet broadcasting and modern brass banding.
  4. oddbod

    oddbod Member

    I must agree Notebook - I've considered making similar comments but I worry that too much of a bash at them and we'll vanish from the schedules- the standards have gone down and down - I've saved cassette tapes from 20 years ago of LTTB and those old ones are consistently better than now in terms of performance.

    A few times recently while listening, I've imagined myself tuning in while, say driving, as a member of the public - and it made me think think - yuck - what's this.. on the most listened to radio station on the planet.

    Nothing wrong with Frank - does an amazing presentation job ("Bye Now!") - but you can't broadcast on the planet's number one station without the best material - and I don't think the Beeb are delivering it to him.

    Amongst the zillions of cassettes I've saved from the nineties- an incredible recording of the Europeans - with lots of Gareth Wood's "Five Blooms in a Welsh Garden" - wow! - and a few weeks later - Roy Newsome was off-air for some reason and standing in was Richard Evans - after the usual "Soldiers In The Park".. there was a bit longer than normal silence- and suddenly - thee voice... said "Now Then!" 'Hah - fantastic! - he went on to do a half hour with BNFL - even a simple march like "National Emblem" took on a whole new meaning for me - I miss those days - but then again, I admit I'm becoming an old git!
  5. timbloke

    timbloke Member

    Couldn't have put it better myself. The point of Radio 2 is to play light, popular and easy listening music. And I think the way it is delivered is about right for R2. Brass Bands haven't moved into the realms of R3, generally the music is about entertaining not about exploring new "serious" music, with the exception of the test peice. Just look at the peices on LTTB last night - "Bare Necessities", "Green Hornet" etc. hardly likely to go down well on R3.

    I think there maybe needs to be a rethink in strategy, maybe in the form of podcast or internet radio with lots of live recordings. Maybe in the form of a new show on R2 at 2am on a Weds which lasts for 2hours and has a chance to play some decent music and explore what is going on in banding at the moment. Which those of us who want to could "Listen Again", I do with the Gilles Peterson Worldwide show on R1 at that time, and i think that has quite a following.

    One question though, is how many banders (tMPers or not) actually enjoy listening to band music? I wouldn't say I'm a big fan, I'd prefer to listen to Gilles Peterson ("Joining the dots between latin, funk, soul and hip hop" as it says on the tin) than Grimey, and I'm a classically trained brass player who regularly plays in orchestras/bands, was brought up on a diet of classical music and used to have christmas trips to the ballet rather than the panto. How many other banders actually go out of their way to listen to band music? If I'm representative then why should we expect the general public, and the BBC to go out of their way to provide an outlet for this minority? Or am I not really representative? Who knows. Back to work.
  6. Anglo Music Press

    Anglo Music Press Well-Known Member

    This is very perceptive. The BBC has a remit to cater for the whole listenership, including us banders, but you can't expect them to take us seriously until we take ourselves seriously.

    It seems to me that less and less original band music is finding itself into concert programmes. The performance of 'serious' works is now confined to prestigious festivals and contests, but even top rate original light music (eg Light Walk, Trouble Maker) while rightly being very popular for a while, has seemingly been discarded for a mixture of film music, pop and swing.

    I'm a great fan of all these genres (in their original forms) but we must ask ourselves if we are just wearing a mask all the time and being musical impersonators. If we can't support our fantastic heritage of original music, both light and serious, why should we expect the Beeb to?

    BBC Radio 2 should NOT, in my opinion, be expected to broadcast test pieces (Radio 3 should, of course!) but as long as we have LTTB, then we should present the best of our original music that is suitable for the station, not ersatz pop and swing. If we want to be musical chameleons, then we shouldn't be surprised if the camouflage means no-one can or wants to find us!
  7. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    - You used to write a lot of short and original items for band. Anything in the pipeline to encourage this habit for others to follow?
  8. Anglo Music Press

    Anglo Music Press Well-Known Member

    I still do (!) Have a look at the brass band column on:-

    But it simply doesn't get played and much as it used to. But I'm not pleading for more sales, I'm genuinely worried about the image we are creating for ourselves.

    I work a lot in the wind band sphere, where the idea of putting on a concert of entirely original music is common. Of course, they play arrangements as well, but the proportion of original music is MUCH higher and hence composers take the genre seriously.
  9. davidquinlan

    davidquinlan Member

    I couldn't agree more.. post of the year 2007 !! :)

    No matter how well brass bands play swing, pop, latin, funk whatever.. In my opinion, it still always sounds inappropriate (the only word I can think of describing it..) naff would be another.. :) Personally, if I want to hear pop, I'll buy a pop cd, swing, a big band cd etc..

    I always enjoy a concert program that has a good mix of original pieces and transcriptions/arrangements that work for the brass band.

    At the French Open gala concert last year, we opened with Masque which after the concert (certainly the first half) was the most talked about piece of the evening. Most (including the judges of the contest) had never heard it. However, I think a certain arrangement of the Can Can was the talk of the second half!! ;)

    I think it's up to each band engaged to record for LTTB to look at their program and try and include more original music. We at Aveley & Newham are booked to record sometime in February... I have no idea yet what the program will be.

    An amusing thing about recording at Maida Vale Studios. There are lots of notices and you get lots of warnings about not making noise disturbing local residents loading and unload gear etc.. The funny thing is, the studios have been there 70 years or so, surely the residents knew this when they moved in to the area?
  10. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    - erm, and most of the more recent ones (except the suites) seem to be arrangements or marches (unless I'm mistaken) ... :confused:

    I wonder if bands themselves are doing themselves harm by selecting programmes that are out of touch with keeping the public interested? If the music chosen is too predictable, punters may become disinterested and if it is too idiosyncratic (in-house composers/arrangers) a little bland to attract attention? I, too, get a little fed up having to listen to film music, novelty arrangements and solos/features that are played repeatedly on LTTB and I'm now only an occasional listener.
  11. Sandy Smith

    Sandy Smith Member

    at last !
    A discussion about what should be the central issue of banding - the music.
    It will be intriguing to see how this thread develops and if enough people are really interested about what we play.
  12. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member

    Which is remarkably familiar to some of this thread earlier this year ;)
  13. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    - what's your perspective on this and how do you decide on arrangement selection? Is it more audience pull or performance bound or do you try to strike a compromise? :confused:
  14. ian perks

    ian perks Active Member

    to be honest 30 mins programme with to much chat does not justifi the programme been broadcast.
    I have not listend to LTTB for yonks.
    We need the 1 hour slot coming back like it was many years ago
  15. alks

    alks Member

    With brass music, you have to strike a balance and play music appropriate to the situation. Give the public what they want. Thsi is actually the strength of the brass band -- the fact that it can be versitile and adapt to the situation, this means playing all music. Bands should not be pigieon holed in to playing what people think they should. I like playing movie music and so do audiences like listening to it. When the average joe turnes on radio 2 and hears some film music they may actually listen to it! put on some unknown original peice and they likely change frequency. Its best to draw people in then present them with something original - a mixture. The strength of the brass band is to be versitile, adaptable and open to playing all music.

  16. geordiecolin

    geordiecolin Active Member

    It's to do with noise legislation. Even if the houses were built after the studios and a resident complains about the studios and the noise levels are found to be of a level that is considered to be a statutory nuisance then notice could be served by the council on the studios, effectively shutting them down.

    Sorry, not related to the topic I know!
  17. Sharpy

    Sharpy Member

    I think you've written the 2nd place quote of the year!!!!

    I'm lucky that in my job I play in a Big Band, Orchestra, Concert band and Marching band. But when it comes to a Brass Band trying to swing a big band number, it usually sounds awful!! No matter how good the band is, if the drummer and basses aren't getting the right feel it sounds bizarre!!!

    I think, as has been mentioned before, that more original music needs to be played but I can see why these other styles of music are played. It gets younger players interested in playing and to a certain extent the audience does like to here stuff that is recognisable. But for LTTB it needs to be a clever balance, an orchestra on R2 would play light music, so perhaps it is time to lobby for another programme to showcase serious brass music.
  18. oddbod

    oddbod Member

    I think that when Average Joe listens in and hears most of our arranged output, s/he'll just feel that it's funny/peculiar - doesn't know why but it doesn't sound quite right - whereas a ticket buyer at a concert knows they're going to hear just brass and percussion sounds.

    This is a real problem, but I think that regular Radio 2 listeners know that once it gets past about 7.30pm - the schedule is more specialist - some nights there's Folk, Jazz - even Northern Soul was on for three hours on New Year's Day. There has to be room for brass bands - if the programme choice was of music that the listener didn't get to hear other versions of - I think that has to be better for everyone. As stated previously in this thread - I think most of us prefer to hear orchestras playing film themes and rock bands playing rock music - but again, I'm not criticising the arrangement of these for concerts or fund raising CD's etc.

    Another point is that certainly since about 2000 - some of the broadcasts have been well below what used to be the acceptable performance standard. some session recordings have contained some chronic intonation.

    Also there's the attitude of the band players themselves - As a kid up to about 1980 I was involved in about 20 Radio 2 sessions and 2 Radio 3 Bandstand sessions - we treated each opportunity as if it was the National Finals! - rehearsed for weeks! - But a couple of LTTB's I've been involved with since 2000 as a conductor and a composer - the two bands just weren't as impressed about the opportunity of playing on the radio - most of them under about 30 just didn't seem to get it - and that surely doesn't help.
  19. Notebook

    Notebook Member

    Some very astute replies to my original post..

    Philip makes the point that test pieces should be for radio 3. Until we get proper regular broadcasts and not the rare two-three hours from the RNCM Festival, we have to rely on LTTB. And they have broadcast test pieces in the past 12 months. I just think that our major contests are an exception to the norm and the winner should be broadcast not a three minute snippet and 10 minutes of Frank and some interviews.

    We did have original music last night but ruined by the talk over them.

    I wonder also what instructions the producer gives to bands in choosing their programmes for broadcast. Maybe our friend at Newham could enlighten us as to if any have been given for their forthcoming recording.

    I can see I may have a few interesting chats with Frank whilst I cover Butlins in a couple of weeks time!!
  20. davidquinlan

    davidquinlan Member

    As far as I am aware, choice of music is down to the band booked to record the session. Obviously, they prefer if you didn't play what has been played in recent programs [no matter how much better, louder, faster, higher etc you think you can play it ;) ] I have at this time no idea what we will record, but going on past recordings I have been involved in, it will probably consist of material we will work on over the next few weeks for the Yeovil contest and works that we have played in the last 6-8 months or so.

    To be perfectly honest, I've only listened to LTTB when there has been an Aveley & Newham broadcast, even then I listened to it the next week via the BBC Website. The point here being, do people still sit down specifically to listen to the radio like they did in days before TV, Internet,CD's, home cinema, iPods etc etc etc I mostly listen to radio when driving.

    If a program to showcase new brass music, such as works that may be used for contests [I prefer that term rather than TEST PIECE!] was introduced, then maybe I would take more interest as I may have to play some these works at some point in the future. Listening to 30 minutes of jolly tunes and arrangements, with the odd original work thrown in doesn't really appeal to me.

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