Salvation Army Music and Secular Bandis

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by P_S_Price, Jul 18, 2012.

  1. Warderloo

    Warderloo Member

    It seems to be about programming. If a band has a yearly repertoire of say, twenty concert pieces how much SA rep is suitable for this?

    There are some good SA pieces which would be great for lower section own choice contests...mostly lyrical, well written (specifically for bands of mixed abilities) and not 'technically' demanding. Some of this repertoire though enjoyable is quite dated (cowers in preparation for abuse...) but all how many "secular" pieces from the same era make it onto your average band programme?

    Some of the lighter rep has made it into concerts and entertainment contests, 'Goldcrest' & 'Praise', and the like are nice little pieces and a change to your average rep. There must be more like this available. Many hymn arrangements are cracking and in my view the best available to bands, but again are they suitable concert repertoire now?

    As a distant observer, I find lots of recent SA repertoire is lacking in quality, sounding like bad film music (or worse, stuck in a cycle where SA composers are inspired to write a piece just like the last SA piece, which is in the style of the last and so on...) so why would bands play this music when they could just play a John Williams arrangement? I know SA rep is written for a captive audience and has to appeal and this is obviously a style which is popular now, but these are the future versions of those dreadful dated 'Selections' (this isn't a comment on the classic ones by RSA etc, but how many of those get played now, even by SA bands?). Paul Lovett Cooper has cornered the market with original pieces in this style now (the SA even commissioned a piece from him for a ISB event) and film music is widely available so SA composers may find there music even less appealing to non-SA bands.
  2. julian

    julian Member

    Hi Waderloo, I read your comments with interest. Of course, there is a lot of older Salvation Army brass band music that rarely gets played now. Just like with secular music, some of it appears dated as it is not immune from the changing fashions of style and form that all music is subject to, and yes, I can't imagine a lot of the 'secular' pieces that I used to play 30 years ago still being in regular use either!

    I stand to be corrected, but can't imagine that most Salvation Army composers consider that their music is written for a captive audience. However, I'm sure that they would believe their music first and formost to be written for a purpose, and that's the difference. Yes, of course, some will be more skilled than others, and some of it will need to be written for smaller bands (The Salvation Army publishes works under its 'Triumph Series' for slightly less instrumentation - no sop or bass trom etc).

    You are right in saying that there must be more pieces available! For music within the ability of most bands it's contained within the 'general series' but for far more advanced music you need to investigate the 'Festival series'.

    Take a look - it's well worth it.
  3. Warderloo

    Warderloo Member

    "Written with a purpose" is a much better way of putting it! By a captive audience I just meant that the music is published in house by the SA, for SA bands for SA audiences.

    My comment about lack of quality wasn't meant for at the music for smaller bands. Of course the harmonic language and rhythm will have to be simpler to suit a beginner or intermediate group and there is a real skill in that to make this music interesting. I'm all for practical music making and the SA model of the various 'Series' is a very good one, not to mention the quality of print. The success of the Christmas music in some way points to that. (On an another issue, perhaps this is the only time of the year the majority of the general public are comfortable the 'religion'?!). The SA in the USA seems to doing well, with some excellent practical music for various standard of group.
    It was with the larger music I made the comment, music which could suitable for good "outside" bands ('s like that famous headline 'Fog in the Channel....Europe Cut Off'!) and music which is the public face of the SA's input. From what I have heard recently, a large majority of it written for big occasions (and not for a practical, everyday use) is pretty rubbish. As I said, bad John Williams (but not really, because it's actually a copy of another film music copy....the 'American' sound was done brilliantly back in the 1980s anyway by Broughton, Bulla, Curnow & Himes etc...), the latin names and 'worship' song with a bit of 'samba' style (again, not really samba, SA version of samba and didn't Peter Graham do that in the 80s with a Latin piece?) decorated with semiquavers to make it more 'difficult'. I suppose you have to write lots to get a handful of gems.

    I heard a great little arrangement of 'We Three Kings' (not 'Three Kings Swing') a slightly 'cossack/galop' arrangement which I'll try to use at some point. I've conducted 'Manhatten' (a top quality ditty!) recently and blimey, just remembered using William Himes' little Unity Series march 'Effervescence' with a (non SA) kids band years ago! There is stuff around, but it's tricky to know about. For me I can see using SA Classical arrangements (of which there are many excellent ones, well scored and very practical!) and short but slightly different 'miniatures' to add to a standard programme.
  4. kiwiinoz

    kiwiinoz Member

    As an ex salvationist who has recently re started his banding "career" I can say that when we do play an SA piece, i do find myself shuddering with some of the interpretations of the music. There is a ton of good stuff in the SA portfolio, but alot of it is not really useful for contesting bands. That is no to say it is no good because it is, but in the sphere of contest banding, it just doesnt fit. Some of it sure does, Quintessence for example is great and can be played anywhere ( i wish i could be in a band that could play it) and there are others, but i guess alot of it really isnt suited nor written for contesting. I would love to form an ex SA band and hit a contest with all SA music, but fear that will never happen!! Imagine it, great stuff!!!
  5. P_S_Price

    P_S_Price Member

    Salvos here in the UK - Not Ex-SA, all current SA (as far as I know), but regularly "hit" the whit friday contests; regularly making a respectable showing.

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