Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by timps, Jun 10, 2004.



  1. YES

  2. NO

  1. timps

    timps Member

    Just wanted peoples opinions on the North / South Divide of brass bands and the difference (if any) in standards of playing.

    Also the welsh / scottish divide as well, english bands views of the welsh and scottish bands.

    Could prove an interesting debate, hopefully.

    Lee Downie
    Ex-Flowers Percussion :)
  2. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    Perhaps if I wasn't born a Londoner, I wouldn't say this, but to me personally (I'm not asking/expecting anyone to agree!) it's a bit of an irrelevance really, but whilst I don't dislike music competitions, I still can't quite fathom out the level of competitiveness of brass bands (particularly in the reactions it brings - 'rubbish adjudicators', 'brass bands are better/worse up north/darn sarf' - a league table of brass bands for heaven's sake!) I just feel like it's becoming more and more like a sport and less a form of entertainment/art - which music, to me, should be. Sure, other forms of musical ensembles are compared (i.e who's the best orchestra? Berlin Phil or LSO?) but it's more a matter of personal taste rather than competition.

    All the same, I still play in them, (as I said, the concept of musical competition doesn't bother me) but I'm looking forward to Harrogate as much... in fact MORE to enjoy the musical weekend than to worry too much about the result. (And to hopefully meet up with Straightmute for a jar or two! ;-))

    I should add that I do NOT wish to wind up/offend anyone with these comments, it's just my own personal outlook! ;-)
  3. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    p.s. My 'upbringing' and outlook will probably explain why whatever my technical skills (or lack thereof) I'll never get a decent cornet sound as long as I have a hole in (etc. etc.)!

    Brass bands are great but I love my trumpet!
  4. amgray

    amgray Member

    I think the reason that the northern bands do better on average than the rest of the country (put together :lol: ) is to do with the concentration of good players in the right areas.
    The Yorks / Lancs bands have always featured players from every part of the UK. Players used to move north/south to join good bands (think Phil McCann, Bob & Nick Childs, Steve Walkley, Sandy Smith, Kevin Crockford etc).

    As regards Banding becoming a competitive sport - it always has been in my experience, right from my early days in the 4th section.
  5. Dave1

    Dave1 Member

    You are unfortunately right on the button. Who can disagree that the Dyke, YBS, B&R, Grimethorpe etc are all based in a small region. There are exceptions of course, Cory, and others but the central core of the best bands in the world are in Yorkshire and Northern England. They have established themselves many years ago and manage to maintain that level. Good luck to them. I wish we were like them too.
  6. flugelgal

    flugelgal Active Member

    Aside from flugel I agree with you, Dave. I'm hopeless with a cornet because I try to play it like a trumpet or flugel.

    Back on topic - I think it's just because there are more bands in the North of England and more players and so the "Top" bands can easily fill a band. There are only a handful of bands here and we don't have the same player pool so, sorry Granite City, but you're stuck with me! :wink:
  7. Jezzabell

    Jezzabell Member

    Theres just not the concentration of players down here in Cornwall tho we are getting there! Slowly :shock:
  8. tim

    tim Member

    I htink the difference in standard is quite possibly the fact that the best places to study as a brass bander are in the areas where good bands are!

    The rncm, salford, huddersfield for the north.

    THe royal welsh for cory's etc and the scottish college for the scotish bands.

    If say the academy in london started employing the likes of webster, dave thornton, steve mead etc to teach in london then the students would follow and the standard in london would be raised!
  9. TheMusicMan

    TheMusicMan tMP Founder Staff Member

    Spot on there in my opinion Kirsty. It's a very similar situation to the recent Olympic medal table. If you work out the table based on a ratio of medals won to population, then the final medal table certainly wouldn't look anything like it does now. Numbers i.e. availability - obviously does help.

    Also, last point aside, it is where top colleges and tutors are geographically located relating to the subject matter, so obviously (and rightly so), the best players from Cornwall, London, West Wales and all other ares etc. are all naturally attracted to the area and thus end up playing for bands in that area.

    A brilliant mind, with potential and with an opportunity would choose to attend Harvard University rather than Little Town Wannabe State College yeah?
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2004
  10. Lester Piggot

    Lester Piggot New Member

    Some great bands in Yorkshire but dont compare to Lancashire. Fodens Fairey and Leyland are for me better.
  11. jpbray

    jpbray Member

    It is well known that brass bands traditionally are working class forms of entertainment, which rose out of the heavily industrialised areas of the industrial revolution, such Yorks, Lancs, The Midlands and the South Wales Valleys. Hence the greater tendancy for more better bands to come from these areas. However, it is hoped that banding can get away from this stereotyping of "cloth cap and whippets" and take its place properly in the world of music, considering the hardwork and skill of our top musicians.
  12. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    I think the 'cloth cap and whippets' stereotyping is thankfully, on the wane. The 'Floral Dance' and 'Brassed Off' stereotypes are the next hurdles to negotiate if brass bands want to be taken seriously.....
  13. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    I think the opposite side of the equation is also true. Traditionally, southerners have tended to consider themselves more 'cultured' than people from the 'provinces'. Thus they have tended to be more concerned with 'cultural' activities like orchestral music, opera and the ballet.

    The original roles of the town bands and the city waits was relegated to the commons. It is rare to find any of the nobility and gentry actually participating in these functions. They were the ones for whose enjoyment the entertainment was provided.

    Because of this, they got left behind by the developments in brass bands and have since had to keep playing 'catch-up'. :)
  14. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    But if you knew me, Mike, you'd know that I'm far from 'kulchered' (It's the way i wuz brung up, you see ;-))

    Actually, in all seriousness, in years gone by, London had, from what I'm told, a considerable number of brass bands. Denis Wright used to broadcast for the Beeb regularly with the Crystal Palace and Luton Red Cross bands and it wasn't that long ago that regular contests used to be held at the Lewisham Theatre in Catford (yup. Catford, as immortalized in a Barron Knights song..... that's where I wuz brung up! ;-))
  15. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    You must have a good dollop of northern genes, Dave. :)
  16. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    Hope so. After all, I'd better get practising, moving up to Scotland as I am! ;-)
  17. Richard Dyson

    Richard Dyson Member

    There are lies, damned lies and statistics so make up your mind with 4BR's analysis of if there is a divide or not. Based on the placings of the top 3 bands from each area they rank the regions in the following order;

    North West
    West of England
    North of England
    London & Southern Counties

    I don't think the divide is due to numbers of players in a particular area but more due to the numbers of venues available to play at. Bands in Yorkshire and North West have the 'band club' culture where they can be out regularly playing to the public which means having to rehearse more effectively to ensure they are prepared. Basically get your bands busy and they will improve.
  18. BassBlaster

    BassBlaster Member

    Well as a Gloucestershire bloke, I have to say good players come from anywhere, but as the concentration of bands are larger in the north, and wales, per population, and the culture is largely more brass oriented, then obviously Bands in those regions of the country will take precedence.
    As Lee will know (he who posted this thread).
    In the West, locally, I do not count the cornish bands, to far to go. There has only been two bands who can count themselves top class, SunLife and Flowers, now there is only a limited amount of positions available for players, so potential players, tend to play for slightly inferior (musically) bands, so over time will not achieve the potential that they could arrive at, as more players do in the other areas.
    Wow that sounds clever!, not bad for a BBb Bass player genius type bloke.
  19. Red Elvis

    Red Elvis Active Member

    Unquestionably there is a North / South divide in banding , and others have noted that this is probably as much due to historical reasons as much as anything else , given bandings historical and cultural ties with heavy industry and manufacturing .There was never much in the way of coalmining or steelworks down south .
    To use an analogy , thinkof bands as being a bit like rugby league - closely identified with a geographical area and therefore the teams from that core area have historically dominated the game and by and large continue to do so , although the game (particularly in the lower leagues ) has spread southwards (Come on you Bronco's!!).
    The exception to this would appear to be in the SA , where the Army's stronger bands have generally been based in London and the south - I suspect because in the past , unlike in the north , the "outside bands "(sorry to use an outdated term!) were not there to attract the players that would have "gone over" had they been up north.
    Also , as has been noted , the leading brass band conservatoires have been based in the north.When I was a student (back a few years now) I did my A levels at Colchester Institute.The place was far from the greatest academic institution , but did posess an excellent music department , particularly for Brass , under the great Michael Clack (whose baton I was privileged to play under for two years whilst studying there).At the time I think I am right in saying that none of the london academies offered much in the way of brass , and consequently there were students there on the degree programme that had turned down "better offers" in order to attend Colchester and concentrate on their brass studies.The Brass band there was one of the best I have played in and did much to introduce me to the wider world of banding outside of the SA.
  20. Exiled_Janner

    Exiled_Janner Member

    Well Bass Blaster

    You said "In the West, locally, I do not count the cornish bands, to far to go. There has only been two bands who can count themselves top class, SunLife and Flowers."

    I stand to be corrected but I reckon Camborne has won the West of England Regional Championships many more times than Sun Life ever did. Who are this years West of England Champions - Mount Charles. Bit of a sweeping statement igorning the Cornish bands?

    By the way I am not affiliated to either band!