Please Help

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by flower girl, Sep 24, 2006.

  1. flower girl

    flower girl Member

    For a mini dissatation this year i'm studying the formation of the brass band, i'm needing to find out which was the very first brass band, the founder of it, and how the instrumentation and styles of music being played has changed and modernised through out the years. Does any one have any idea's how i can find out about this, i also need to get brass banders opinions on whether the changes have been for the better or not and why they feel like this.

    Any input would be greatly appreciated as i have no idea where to begin really.

  2. DaveR

    DaveR Active Member

    Not sure if anyone knows when the first brass band was formed. You may find the info about the Cyfarthfa band interesting though - I think John Wallace and someone else who's name escapes me (I'll edit this post if it comes back to me!) wrote a book about this, as well as recording a CD using period instruments and music.

    EDIT: It was Trevor Herbert, who also wrote "The British Brass Band: A Musical and Social History" - that might help you.
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2006
  3. ian perks

    ian perks Active Member

    well one of the oldest brass bands still going to day is Stalybridge and then probably either Black Dyke or Besses oth Barn
  4. Morgans Bach

    Morgans Bach Member

    I've seen it quoted somewhere on the internet that Coxlodge Institute Band (Newcastle) was formed in 1808, and that Stalybridge Band was formed in 1809, which makes them some of the oldest brass band in Britain at least. I'm no authority on this subject whatsoever, but I'll hazard a guess that you may have to be careful when sifting through refernce documents etc, as many brass bands have had different ailiases over the years.

    This may help you on your way perhaps? (see A-Z and link to 'Extinct' brass bands).

    Interesting dissertation by the way! (better than my Marine Biology nonsense anyway!) Good luck! :)
  5. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    There are lots of articles to look at here. ;)
  6. Chris Sanders

    Chris Sanders Active Member

    It is correct that Stalybridge were in fact the oldest, many others however claim to be older, but thats not correct. Back in 1809 when Stalybridge were formed however they did have woodwind instruments also, but they did later become soley brass.

    Another completely uninteresting fact is that the wartime favourite 'Its a Long Way To Tipperary' was written by Jack Judge in Stalybridge bandroom which is now a conservative club next door to the Judges Bar beneath Stalybridges current residance!

    If you look here on Wikipedia it'll give you some more info...

    There is a plaque on the wall between the two explaining this, if you wanted to research this or get photo's there is a train that runs regularly to Stalybridge station from Huddersfield!


    Im not a sad bander honest.

    I just went to school in Stalybridge a long time ago before the recent rejuvenation into Stalyvegas, and we had to do work on local history... Naturally I focused mine on a topic I knew.

    If I can be any help you have me on msn??
  7. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    Some people are confusing the request for the "first brass band" with the oldest extant brass band, which could be Stalybridge, Besses or one or two others. The answer is, depends how you define a brass band. When Besses and 'Bridge were formed, they were using military band instruments and included clarinets and ophicleides.

    Quick history lesson - skip this if you know it or it sounds a bit pompous/condescending. In the aftermath of the Napoleonic wars a great many local militias were disbanded and their bands/instruments were no longer required. This coincided with the industrial revolution making brass instuments easier to manufacture, the rise of the wealthy/philanthropic industrialist (like John Foster, for instance) and the beginnings of the kind of civic pride that peaked in late Victorian times - every new industrial town wanted its own Town Hall, for instance, and some of the great Victorian halls, like Huddersfield Town Hall, Birmingham Town Hall, the Free Trade Hall, Leeds Town Hall, became the local centre of musical life for over a century. These factors combined to create a boom in local bands, mostly using ex-military instruments and uniforms - hence the quasi-military uniforms we're limbered with today.

    Fast forward to the 1830s and a French family called the Distins touring Great Britain with a circus band wow their audiences playing a new type of instrument named and patented by the Belgian Adolphe Sax, although his actual invention of them is disputed - Saxhorns! The first brass band, to my mind, would be the first band using saxhorns along with cornets and trombones, with no woodwind. Such a band won the first British Open in 1853 (ish) - Mossley Temperance Saxhorn. Contemporaries attributed their success to the uniformity of sound they achieved with their new Saxhorns, and every town and village wanted their band to achieve the same level of success; banding in the late 1800s was like football is now. So, every band with a wealthy backer, or a healthy public subscription (like B&R) immediately got shut of serpents, ophicleides, bugles and clarinets and got themselves a shiny new set of cornets and saxhorns. The brass band as we know it hasn't changed a lot since, in terms of the basic instrument make-up.

    So I'd go for Mossley Temperance Saxhorn, and their conductor William Taylor, British Open Champions at Belle Vue in 1853 as the first all-brass, recognisable, brass band.
  8. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    PS guess what my dissertation was on? ;)

    BA in being a BOC
  9. Morgans Bach

    Morgans Bach Member

    lol! Wow, now that's knowing your stuff! Don't fancy writing my dissertation too do you?!

    On a serious note, that's a good point to note before commencing on the dissertation; defining what you mean by a brass band.
  10. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

  11. flower girl

    flower girl Member

    WOW thats ace. Thanks
  12. flower girl

    flower girl Member

    i have got tons of info justs from the links etc you've all given me. Thanks sooooooo much XX
  13. Bogtrotter

    Bogtrotter Member

    Mmm....intersting stuff...but....

    Well, there was some certainly very helpful replies, but can you answer this one then?

    Does anyone know why oh why, the bass trom is still notated in bass cleff, when even the tenor troms have adopted treble as opposed to tenor cleff......?

    Answers on a post card.......
  14. flower girl

    flower girl Member

    I'd have thought it was to do with the sounding pitch, however this may not be the case as both Eflat and Bflat are written in Treble clef
  15. Anglo Music Press

    Anglo Music Press Well-Known Member

    A little bit off topic, but the late Bob Bernat, founder of the River City Brass Band in Pittsburgh, showed me a picture of a Southern US black slave all-brass band which predated (can't remember exactly how much by) any of the UK claims to be the first.

    They had bass horns rather than tubas, ophecleides, keyed bugles and two-valve cornets (cornucopeas??). Don't know anything of its history, but I was surprised!
  16. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    One article which I think is well written is this one by Trevor Herbert.
  17. midwalesman

    midwalesman Member

    I wish you good luck with your dissertation but would like to highlight that Trevor Herbert does say in his most up-to-day book, The Social History one quoted in a prior post, that he has failed to find the first brass band and obviously with his excellent research skills I would warrant that he is right. A couple of bands can be disregarded immediately, for example the Blaina band, which was allegedly based in an ironworks in a place, Pontybederyn, that did not exist and that the owner of this works was called Brown but didn't have brothers. This was taken from an original source which was prone to self importance over accuracy, that being Enderby Jackson who no doubt developed contesting but was commenting on the first brass band many many years and many many hundreds of miles away from where it was said to have occurred.

    I agree with Trevor Herbert in that the name of the first brass band is irrelevant but the process by which they were formed, the social process, is far more important.

    The best pages from the social history book are from 18 to 21. It would be interesting for you, if you are still doing the project or for others interested to look at the information that they can gain on their local band. Go to the local library, national libraries and other sources, for example the oldest piece of music in the band library and the stories (and some would argue hearsay from the oldest members you can find in the area, which could lead to a reunion) and even advertising in the local paper for information on the band which could provide old instruments or documentation from people who have kept band scrap books.

    Mr Sparke is there any chance that you could find a copy of that picture of the slave band. I have heard that there were many bands that predated the British contemporary brass band model, though I think most of these will have been mostly wind bands (in our sense). The idea of the first formal band contest after all came from the Ladies Chichester's visit to France where they say a music/band competition in a village. I imagine that due to the strength of the British Army/Navy at the time, bands were frequently associated with troop movement. Probably a bit later in the time line but equally significant, the Mexicans developed their own military bands during their occupation by the Spanish (someone correct me if I'm wrong!!!) and they later mixed the military instrumentation with their indigenous music, and created a tradition called Mexican Banda (a topic of the book by Helena Simonett (spelling could be wrong) Whilst I was in Canada last year with the B+R band I came across a book about the American Southern States (bizarre I know) and in that book I came across mention that brass instruments were often used in accompanying the slave singing. On a contemporary note, it's interesting that in his book on India and Pakistan, Booth comments that there are thousands of bands over there every year, perhaps even more than we currently have in this country.

    Hope your essay went well.
  18. flower girl

    flower girl Member

    Oh b***er if thats true it really throws a spanner in the works as my facts have to be 100% accurate. Back to the drawing board me thinks. Thanks though gives me more to work off.
  19. FlugelD

    FlugelD Member

    Can you add the words 'in the UK' to your title? ;)
  20. flower girl

    flower girl Member

    Unfortunately not cos i'm using comparisons from america etc. Had already thought of it

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