Re-arrangments

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

  1. 24aw

    24aw Member

    What is it with this latest craze of re-arranging perfectly good arrangements? Mr Bram Gay seems to of become the master of it with his pointless re working of Les Preludes more recently the original arrangement of The Magic flute seems to of been unnecessarily messed with and of cause there was the absolutely ridiculous transposing of a band masterpiece the Seven Suite (obviously Mr Gay was aware of things about scoring Elgar wasn't!!! ;-) The Seven Suite in particular was ruined by turning what was a fabulously dramatic and morose piece that had a touch of the cotton mills and mine shafts about it into a fairly jolly little romp. Wouldn't it be better for a genius of Mr Gays standard to score purely original arrangements thus keeping the works of other arrangers sacrosanct and unblemished? In fact, the cynic in me would have to suggest this policy is akin to football clubs releasing 5 replica kits a season.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2006
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  3. drummerboy

    drummerboy Member

    It's my understanding that Les Preludes was done as the most accurate transcription of it for band, which differs somewhat from the older arrangement.
    I also believe that there is a copy of the Severn Suite that Elgar made in another key (up a tone if memory seves me), so it's not Bram Gay's doing regarding changing the key.
    Personally I don't know The Magic Flute arrangemt you speak of, but I don't think Mozart works for band at all, however good the arrangement.
     
  4. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    - you must have sound reasons for saying this (on more than one occasion) ... please explain why ... :cool:
     
  5. bassinthebathroom

    bassinthebathroom Active Member

    I couldn't agree more with much of this! The debacle over the Elgar, was later disproven (to the best of my knowledge), and as far as I'm aware the original key is in fact the intended one. I don't mind the arrangements and re-arrangements, but I think they should kept away from the contesting arena as much as possible, as they don't really do a great deal for the development of banding's image.
     
  6. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    Actually, since as far as I'm aware, Edward Elgar didn't actually score "Severn" Suite himself (I think it may have been Henry Gheel, but I admit to not being 100% sure of my facts ... ), that statement may be true (at least, so far as brass band scoring is concerned).
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2006
  7. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    This was also my understanding - EE didn't (or by that time, couldn't be bothered to ) get brass band scoring at all and got HG to score it for him. I believe there was some confusion over whether EE's manuscript was in fact in concert pitch, or already transposed to Bb, hence the rumour (incorrect AFAIK) that the key of the original published version was not what EE intended. In this case Gay is not recomposing Elgar's material, merely reworking Henry Gheel's scoring. I've played a couple of Henry Gheel pieces and frankly, I wasn't impressed, so I could believe that his work on Severn Suite needs looking at.

    Personally, although I quite like the "old" (Rimmer?) version of Zauberflote, I can see why someone with Bram Gay's knowledge and experience might feel the need to redo it. In any case, Gay scored the entire opera for brass band as a project with Stockholm Opera, so it stands to reason he would do the Overture as well.

    Frankly, there are some dreadful arrangements knocking about on brown music that really need doing again - some well-respected ones as well. I don't like Judges of the Secret Court and I really think if The Force of Destiny didn't have such a place in band folklore it would have had a better arrangement by someone like Howard Snell long ago. Come in Frank Wright, your time is up!

    One case where I don't agree that "updating" is required is Professor Wilby's wholly unneccesary addition of percussion to Pageantry. Frankly, a man of his erudition and integrity should know better.

    [I've been on the wine and I'm feeling opinionated ;) ]
     
  8. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    - maybe we should use Howell's extended orchestral scoring of Pageantry to get an update ;)
     
  9. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    Now that's a new one on me! I knew he'd rescored King's Herald for orchestra, I didn't know he'd done the whole suite. Any idea if a score/recording is available?
     
  10. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    - I certainly have King's Herald and when I get the whole suite, I'll let you know (... I have to assume he has written it all for orchestra!)

    post-edit:- :mad:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herbert_Howells

    - back to the drawing board! :frown:
     
  11. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    When you say "original, do you mean the Rimmer? If so, do you also consider the Michael Kenyon (SA) version (c. 1970-ish) to be "messed around"? (I know of many people who consider this version to be superior, at least in terms of faithfulness to Mozart's original scoring ... ); or are you reserving the description for Bram Gay ... ?
     
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  13. drummerboy

    drummerboy Member

    Fair comment!
    Ok, in my opinion the brass band timbre isn't suited to the light textures found in Classical music. I also think that the pitch of brass band is generally too low for Classical music, as a lot of it is in a higher tessitura (partly due to the instruments used in ensembles at the time). You can lower the pitch/octave for a band arrangement, but then to me you loose a lot of the essence of the Classicism contained within the music (ie light textures and sounds and so on).
    In my experience, bands tend to struggle stylisically with the music, as the vast majority of band music (certainly more modern music) relies on big sounds and bass led sounds, which Classical music doesn't generally require.
    (Before anyone shoots me down, I know not everyone won't agree with me, but it is my opinion after all.)
     
  14. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member


    I'm with AD here; notwithstanding Brassneck's post-edit pointing out that only the 1st movement had been re-arranged by the composer, it seems to me that the fact that Howells expanded the percussion writing for the orchestral version does not automatically mean that it is either necessary or even desirable to use the same parts in the original brass band version.

    I have clear recollections of the first time I heard the expanded percussion parts when "Pageantry" was used at the Masters (2000?). Disregarding the 2nd/3rd movements for which we have only supposition, even in the 1st movement, in all the performances I listened to without exception (about half, including the winning perf., and, I think, the 2nd placed) the added percussion (particularly timpani) resulted in decreased clarity in the bass line. It may well be that in an orchestral setting it would work acoustically, but in my estimation it didn't work in a brass band.
     
  15. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    - I have to agree that there has been a trend towards bigger sounds with articulation thrown forward for effect rather than for style's sake alone! This doesn't mean that bands cannot play, when required, with a lighter and more lyrical approach! I wonder if also the art of rubato is being lost as well? (... shoot me down folks! :oops: )
     
  16. drummerboy

    drummerboy Member

    I think you're right. Certainly as testpieces especially have gone ever increasingly technical in their challenges, the other facets of brass playing, such as melodic playing (indeed, with rubato!), is being lost.
    Maybe I've just not been impressed with the current Classical music arrangements around!
     
  17. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    But isn't this primarily a criticism of the ensemble's failure in execution, rather than of the arrangements in principle?

    I agree that many older arrangements of "classical-period" repertoire are less than satisfactory, often particularly in terms of key choice. It is important to remember that many of these arrangements lean towards "flat" keys (in preference to the original "sharp" keys in which much of the original material was written) purely because at the time they were made, it was a recognised fact that because of inherent limitations in instrument design/manufacture of the time, brass bands generally sounded much more "in-tune" in flat keys. This is really no longer true (or at least, brass bands can no longer justify blaming the instruments for not playing with sound intonation in "sharp" keys!), which is in itself a perfectly good reason for making updated arrangements of some brass band "classical warhorses", despite 24aw's reservations. When you factor into this argument the increased availibility of upper/lower register at the disposal of the modern arranger, I don't see any real objection to making new arrangements for the modern brass band. Nor do I see such arrangements as being in any way dismissive of older arrangements, which were, in their era, perfectly decent arrangements.
     
  18. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    - or maybe the playing? ;)
     
  19. drummerboy

    drummerboy Member

    Quite possibly! Though I'm not going to name names!

    And yes Gareth, you also have valid points too. Often it is in the execution of the Classical style, more so than the arrangements.
    However, you also make a good point about the arrangements themselves. The problem though is that many bands probably wouldn't play a modern arrangement if there is a widely-used version already available.
     
  20. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    It is of my opinion that there are many yellow paper arrangements that require refreshing. Gone are the days when access to music listening was limited and knowledge left much to ignorance. Most banders know when an arrangement feels 'correct' and has the necessary detail to convince themselves and the audience. Only my tuppence worth!
     
  21. drummerboy

    drummerboy Member

    If only people would be brave enough to get them re-done!
     
  22. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    There's an excellent arrangement of the overture to Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail by a certain tMP moderator with a brass neck.....

    Mostly I'd agree that it's difficult to arrange Classical repertoire - Mozart, Haydn, J.C. Bach, early/mid Beethoven - for band because the orchestra, especially of that era, has a top-heavy tessitura whereas the brass band is bottom heavy. Baroque music orten works better because the bass line in Baroque music was often reinforced by several continuo instruments.

    One thing to remember with the old "brown paper" arrangements is that they were written for narrow bore, high pitch instruments and would therefore have had a clarity when played that is harder to achieve with modern, larger bore, low pitch instruments. Therefore they probably sounded "cleaner" to the arranger in 1920 or whenever than they would now....?
     

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