Serial Music for Brass Band

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by James McFadyen, Jan 14, 2004.

  1. James McFadyen

    James McFadyen New Member

    No, not Cornflakes! :wink:

    The Serial System of Music is one of the most ground-breaking and biggest changes in the way we look at how music is tonally structured, notated and performed.

    I was just wondering if any other composers on tMP, ever thought of writing a serialist piece for Brass Band?

    There are a lot of composers on here at Uni, and as you and I know very well, there is no Uni in the land where you can escape from the Serial System.

    The reason I have never written serial music for Brass Band is for commercial and commerce reasons. Although,I did, rather cheekily mind you, slip in a note row in my composition 'Opposition of Mars' and did a retrograde on it but before long I was writing tonally and modally again!

    It would be very very VERY interesting indeed if Brass Bands were handed true 20th Century notation, imagine the massacre!

    To the best of my knowlage, no composition has yet been written to be PURELY serialist, be it standard serialism or Integral serialism. Just wondering about your thoughts of serialism and Brass Bands.
  2. Lauradoll

    Lauradoll Active Member

    I'll get my GCSE kids to write one, we're doing serial music at the moment. They just love it. :( NOT.

    It might sound a bit strange though (funny that!!)
  3. James McFadyen

    James McFadyen New Member

    :) and we'll get Tullis to play it.....NOT :wink:

    I bet ur pupils are just loving it!
  4. Kerwintootle

    Kerwintootle Member

    Was Montage by Peter Graham not serialist? May be wrong though.
  5. James McFadyen

    James McFadyen New Member

    Never heard it, but serialist is totally not his style, but u never know! :lol:
  6. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    I'm not sure whether either of Paul Patterson's pieces, "Cataclysm" or "Chromascope" utilise any serial techniques. They are certainly worth exploring for anyone wanting to try something a little different!
  7. shedophone

    shedophone Member

    After studying serial composition for an entire term with lote of composition studies- i would be willing to have a go at a short piece for band, but to be honest, i dont think it would work unless we were playing to a very specialised audience. I suppose if there were enough tonal implications of the series it could be made to sound just modern rather than random, which would come as a refreshing break for some. What do you think?
  8. Brian Bowen

    Brian Bowen Active Member

    I was involved with the publication of one if not both the Patterson titles mentioned but can't remember too much about them except that I believe aleatory techniques were involved. I haven't seen and can't remember hearing "Grimethorpe Aria" but I'd not be surprised if Harrison Birtwistle used serial techniques there.

    But on the general point, a lot of contemporary music is moving away from purely serial methods and tonality is back in. With an amateur movement like brass bands it's hard to see serial music ever catching on. It's a hobby for most people and as such they want enjoy and have a reasonable understanding of what they play.
  9. Lauradoll

    Lauradoll Active Member

    I've just mentioned it to them now. Their response was to the negative. Serial music is their least favourite topic so I'm managing to drag it out as long as I can hahahaha evil cackle!
  10. Pete Meechan

    Pete Meechan Member



    Isn't there? I will take your word for that

    Very sensable.

    True C20th notation? What's that?
    I presume you mean a 'purely serialist' piece for brass band? If not, it's already been done many times over - the first being Messiaen's Mode de Valeurs et d'intensities for piano. This piece is refered tp as the first piece of 'total serialism'. He uses serial techniques for virtualy every aspect of composition, from rhythm, through note, to dynamics.

    Serial composition doesn't actually have to sound 'atonal'. It is a mathamatic form of arranging notes, and as such can be arranged in many different ways including some very 'wacky' ways, but also some very pleasent sounding ways. Richard Rodney Bennet is very good at this.

    Also, it is worth remembering that serial music isn't exactly the same as '12-tone' music. Serial implies the technique rather than the ammount of notes. However, the early serialists tended to use all 12, but in the early 50's, Stravinsky decided to experiment with serial techniques. I think I am right in saying that he used to use quite a lot of 5 note rows in this period of his life.
  11. Lauradoll

    Lauradoll Active Member

    Haha having a good day Pete!! Mr Sarky!
  12. asteria

    asteria Member

    Ok, so call me completely thick but what is serial music? I was under the impression it might be to do with tv soaps or something... :?

    I know, i know, i'm thick! Anyone got a layman's explanation?
  13. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    In serial music, a given row of notes, which may or may not include all twelve semitones, and which may or may not be grouped to fit with conventional chord structures or scales, is used as the basis for composition. This row may be played as it is, or backwards (retrograde), turned upside down (inverted) or backwards and upside down (retrograde inversion).

    Although it sounds very technical, many composers, particularly if they have devised their own systems and interpretaton of the "rules", have produced very attractive music this way. As was mentioned above, some composers have even treated note values and dynamics in a similar way. Equally, some have treated the same note name in a different octave as a new note, whilst some have not minded which octave the note appears in.
  14. Keppler

    Keppler Moderator Staff Member

    so in a nutshell... it's a case of write your notes and durations on a pack of ordinary playing cards (one on each). Find a nice big room and proceed to bounce said cards off the ceiling. Pick cards up randomly and write your music!
    (for symphonies, use lots of decks)

  15. Big Twigge

    Big Twigge Active Member

    and me 8) !!
  16. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    Not randomly, but according to a system, hence the term serial :!:
  17. Keppler

    Keppler Moderator Staff Member

    I was merely applying the Cosworth method of "the random system" Peter.. would have thought you'd have picked up on that.. tut tut...
  18. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    Sounds too technical for me, Neal :oops:
  19. James McFadyen

    James McFadyen New Member

    in (atonal) serialism we regard all notes as equal, therfore no reference can be made to one specific note, nor can we establish key. To establish this we cannot repeat notes, nor can we use consecutive octaves as that would imply a tonal structure which of course is the exact opposite of the atonal serialism.

    The mathematical approach to serialism is quite thrilling for some composers, Stravinsky was one of those composers who admired the logical and mathermatical thought that went into creating serial music.

    There are many great pieces of serialism music, Lauradoll, may I suggest some Webern for your pupils, especially his short works. I love weberns play on colour and atmosphere!

    Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima (by Kristof Penderski) is a fabulous piece! The score is almost impossible to read if you've never seen this kind of notaion before, go to ur uni library and get the score! The piece is filled from start to finish of disaterous sounds, the true impact of this disaster is evident in his composition, a real eye-opener for anyone new to serialism!!! Although you may need to stick on Britten's amazing 'Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra' just to reminde you of how tonal music can be so fun - even young kids get glued to the speakers for the full 17mins, even if just to hear the powerfull finale!
  20. James Yelland

    James Yelland Active Member

    I'm not sure, but it does have a striking resemblance to Lutoslawski's Concerto for Orchestra in places - particularly the first movement.