One for Composers/conductors

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by ploughboy, Mar 20, 2012.

  1. ploughboy

    ploughboy Active Member

    How would you feel about writing a piece of music/working on a piece of music with no Guide to tempo/shape/timing/style. . . . ?

    Imagine going to a test piece contest where every conductor had only a set of notes to work with and had to create a performance of their very own. . . 12 bands, 12 completely different idea's on the piece in front of them. . .

    Would it work? would any composer be prepared to let 12 conductors potentially murder their vision?!
  2. yoda

    yoda Member

    I'd love it. but it would make the results even more subjective tho...!

    I have for a long time been an advocate of loosing the metronome marks, especially for contests, as (my own observations here) it does tend to turn into a "who can hit the tempos best" competition. We might even get back to having a "music" competition rather that the "sport" orientated thing we often get now.......

    We could have one of those without the need for a band...... just a judge behind a curtain who shouts out a tempo at random, and the conductor has to knock the beat out on a table, and the one who gets closest (as determined by the judge behind the curtain with the assistance of a metronome (with a flat battery)) will be the winner...... That does seem like what we have to do now (in most cases) but we have to have a band and a big hall and an audience. Much easier and cheaper to do it my way....

    :p i'll get my coat ;)
  3. Will the Sec

    Will the Sec Active Member

    Not sure I'd ever go as far as you suggested, Garry, but I try not to be too prescriptive in my compositions. I never specify which mutes should be used, and once a piece is finalised invariably hide actual tempos and put general Italian terms, giving quite a bit of flexibility as to the final tempos to be used. I also include a phrase along the lines of "I look forward to hearing conductors' interpretations of my piece" in the notes. If the East Ham Suite ever makes it to a set piece contest such as Butlins I would expect 22 different performances of it, any or none of which might match my ideal of the best performance.
  4. nethers

    nethers Active Member

    There is a lot of music like this out there, though probably not for brass band. I wrote a piece at uni once that was more of a flow chart than a score, no two performances would be anything like each other, yet it was clearly identifiable as my piece.

    It would be great music, but how would you judge it at contest?
  5. Will the Sec

    Will the Sec Active Member

    Call it Crass Potonce and give it to the second section...
  6. trumpetmike

    trumpetmike Active Member

    I tend to go the opposite ways when arranging, I am VERY specific about mutage. The sound of different mutes can be vast and I tend to have quite a strong tonal colour in my mind when I am arranging. The sound of a metal straight mute compared to a plastic, wooden or fibre one, for example.
    I am less fussy about tempo markings.
    It would certainly be an interesting experiment, although the problems for the adjudicators would be huge - they might be forced to come into a contest without preconceived ideas about what tempo the piece "should" be taken at (regardless of what is on the score)
  7. nethers

    nethers Active Member

    Mutage! Love it.

    That said, if you are neither playing nor listening to the particular performance, do you still feel strongly that an MD shouldn't stray from your instructions if he/she honestly belives it will lead to a better performance?
  8. Laserbeam bass

    Laserbeam bass Active Member

    Or Sop Accents, as it would then be up to the Sop player whether they accent or not!
  9. pbirch

    pbirch Member

    I'm pretty sure that JS Bach did that already. :) in music, there is little if anything that is truly innovative, but good luck trying to find it
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2012
  10. RossAB

    RossAB Member

    I tend to be quite specific with writing instructions throughout any piece of music, but as more of a guide to how I imagine the piece being performed than anything else. I certainly wouldn't be hugely bothered if there were variations between performances as a band/conductor made it their own and put their own spin on things.

    It would certainly be interesting to see what happened in that scenario though, and how many different versions of the same piece you could get.
  11. trumpetmike

    trumpetmike Active Member

    Copyright: Jens Lindemann

    If I'm not there, I don't really care, but the arranging I do tends to be for the groups I either play with or conduct so I tend to know what I want. There have been times I have been wanting certain people to take the solos or a specific part so the parts have come out with names on rather than "Trumpet 1."

    It is the mutage issue that annoys me most though - if a composer just puts "mute" it strikes me as just a lazy way of saying "I want a change in tonal colour but don't really know/care what sort." If we were to take a similar attitude to the notes, dynamics or tempo they would complain, but they haven't given any thought to the tonal colour they are looking for.
    The biggest hint you get is "cup mute" or "straight mute" but there are huge variations in tonal colour from different brands - one of the reasons why many people end up with multiple variations on the same style of mute, Phil Smith (principal trumpet of the New York Philharmonic) reckons he has over 100 different straight mutes - all of which have a place in a certain piece.
  12. Will the Sec

    Will the Sec Active Member

    I see your point about the variety of tonal colour that mutes give, Mike, but my not specifying which mute to use is because I know there will be variations on the sound, depending on what brand of mute is used (and if all players are using the same brand of mute, and the tone of the instrument*). In most cases, I think conductors will usually pick the "right" mute, and where they don't it will bring a new interpretation to it.** So in my case it isn't about being lazy.

    *And sometimes by the amount of alcohol imbued by the point of note production.

    **Incidentally, at a Brass Band course run by Harry Mortimer in about 1980, he answered a question about "which mute" by saying, "If it doesn't say which mute to use, use a straight."
  13. BrianT

    BrianT Member

    Competition Ideas...

    With the amount of rescoring that already goes on, I wonder sometimes why test piece composers don't just leave a section of the score completely blank, with the expectation that the conductor writes in everything. So for instance the conductor would be faced with starting in one key, finishing in another and having to write say thirteen 5/4 bars. This would make interesting listening.

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