solo/principal/1st terminology

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by starperformer, Aug 30, 2005.

  1. starperformer

    starperformer Member

    Does anyone know why

    (a) a horn section has solo and 1st, while other sections (baritone/euph/trom) tend to have solo or principal (depending on who you ask) and 2nd?

    (b) 2nd grade players all over the place now seem to think it is acceptable or even fashionable to refer to themselves as the "assistant principal". is this just because some top band or other started doing it (in which case who and why?) or is it the ego trip it looks like to everyone else?
  2. iancwilx

    iancwilx Active Member

    Silly isn't it ?

    - Ian Wilkinson
    Sub Principal EEb Bass
    Kippax Band !!
  3. bruceg

    bruceg Active Member

    Reckon it's mainly ego tripping gone wild...

    -- Lt Gen Sir BruceG (ret)
    -- Principal's Sub EEb Bass
    -- Lochgelly Band - Sub Championship Section (formerly 1st) as of 1 Nov
    -- etc :D
  4. tubafran

    tubafran Active Member

    Taking the lead from the printed parts you also get
    1st & 2nd Baritone
    1st & 2nd Trombone
    Repriano, 2nd and 3rd cornet.

    The other doubled parts being
    Euph, EEb and BBb and presumably these players sort out who plays what - usually on bass parts you do get the high/low split i.e. one player takes the upper register notes and vica versa. As to one only bits often that may be who is the most in tune.
    As to the titles what the heck.

    Oh by the way I've not commented on the front row cornets because that's bound to upset someone.
  5. Rapier

    Rapier Supporting Member

    No idea on the Assistant bit, but a Horn section has 3 parts, solo, 1st and 2nd. A Baritone section has only 2 parts. (This may be wrong but I've never been in a band with more than 2 Baritones. And I think it's the same for the Euphoniums.)
  6. bruceg

    bruceg Active Member

    We basses don't need any composer to tell us who plays what :) Even when they write 1 and 2 on the parts the rule is I go with the high notes and John takes the low notes. Then when they write solo I put my feet up and John does all of the work :D

    Titles schmitles (to quote Woody Allen in one of his lesser known works...)
  7. ted

    ted Member

    I think the term principal are given to the percived leaders of a "section"
    Principal Cornet (cornet section includes Soprano)
    Principal Horn (horn section includes Flugal)
    Principal Euphonium (euph/bari section includes Baritones)
    Principal Eb Bass (bass section includes BBb Bass)
    Principal Trombone (trombone section includes Bass Trombone)
    Principal Percussionist (tuned and/or otherwise)
    (Notice how I said PERCIEVED and my usage of inverted commas. Don't get angry at me because I don't agree with some of these)

    Now, the use of solo. My guess is that if you take the meaning of the word, solo means that player plays alone. If you go back to the time when brass band instrumentation became standardised, only cornets, horns and euphoniums got to perform regularly in solo items accompanied by the band. Which is why I think Solo Cornet, Solo Horn and Solo Euphonium are used. (while 1st trombone, 1st baritone are used)

    In Salvo Cornet Solos, the cornet section has
    Solo Cornet (Cornet playing alone)
    1st Cornet
    2nd Cornet
    Which is consistent with the horn section. (So I think it's probably not the horn's fault that they're scored differently to the cornets.)

    Which brings me to another question. How were brass bands originally scored? Was the repiano part introduced into Salvo music to make non-SA cornet section? Or was that part omitted from a non-SA cornet section to create the Salvation Army cornet section?

  8. hellraiser

    hellraiser Member

    There's a lot of uptitling going on in society... seems to have found its way into brass bands too!
  9. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    In Salvation Army bands, particularly in the early days, it was very common to find most parts doubled, and there are occasions when horn and baritone parts are written "divisi", as well as trombones. I think George Marshall's "Army of the Brave" is one that divides all three horn parts for example. Although the first cornet often shared a part with the flugel, as with the rep/flugel in the contesting world, the 1st cornet part is far less of a soloist than the rep usually is. You also have what became the Triumph Series scoring, with only two cornet parts and only two horn parts, intended for smaller bands.

    Regarding the question of Principal v Solo/1st, as others have said I think it's just an attempt to make the position seem a little more prestigious: in orchestral terms, the term "Principal" will carry with it certain financial advantages, hence you may find a "Principal" bass clarinet or double bassoon, even if they happen to be the only one, and I wonder whether this may be reflected occasionally in terms of retainers paid in the brass band world.

    As for the question of "Assistant Principal" in the cornet section, to me the use of that term would imply that the player in question undertakes more than simply playing "bumper-up", maybe having to deputize for a principal who takes on solo engagements, or leading sectional rehearsals etc.

    Edit: On the question of the rep part, I seem to remember reading somewhere that rep is a relatively recent addition to the instrumentation, and that Eric Ball had lobbied for a second flugel and a fourth trombone to be included.
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2005
  10. ScreamingSop

    ScreamingSop Member

    in my opinion the only principal seat in the band is the Principal cornet. This is becuase it is basically the leader of the band, in the way that orchestras have a leader which is usually the prinicpal violinist.

    All the others obviously have soloist positions, soprano, trombone, euphonium and Basses. But these are section leaders and i wouldnt nessesarily refer to them as Prinicpal Trombone or Principal Euphonium.
    Maybe people use the term Asistant Principal to make themselves feel better and more important. lol
    Not heard many people refer to themselves as principal Repiano or Assistant principal 3rd cornet

    As for the splittting of the parts, this completely baffles me. Ive never understood why baritones have seperate parts but Euphoniums share a part
  11. Incognito

    Incognito Member

    Surely it would be "deputy principal" not "assistant".

    If the second player is practiced up on both parts so they can jump in if the 1st player is off sick then this makes sense.
    If not, then it doesn't make sense.
    Especially in a section with only two members.

    Next thing it will be "principal bass trombone".
  12. johnflugel

    johnflugel Active Member

    I think it's fair to say that their a more than few people with dellusions of grandeur hanging around.

    The 'Principal 2nd cornet' thing is not purely a contesting thing either - sure there is an ISB LP of when they went to the states in the late 70s/early 80s it said things like Principal 2nd Baritone and Principal 2nd Cornet etc. I could be wrong...maybe someone can confirm if they have the record!
  13. iancwilx

    iancwilx Active Member

    What happened to the proud title "Bumper up" ?
  14. Incognito

    Incognito Member

    Then there is the term "leader" in tyhe orchestra which makes no sense really as the principal violinist does not perform any leadership function.

    You would be as well giving that title to the MU rep....
  15. Bones

    Bones Member

    In pro orchestras the Bass Trombone Chair is often referred to as a principal seat. This is more to do with the salary more than anything.
  16. Bones

    Bones Member

    Mind you, last time I went to see a pro orchestra (philharmonia at De Montford) they refer to the leader as a Concert Master. He does tune the violins though.......
  17. Andy_Euph

    Andy_Euph Active Member

    Personally I feel when you speak to people and they say they are "assitant principal" or other grand sounding titles they are mostly just on an ego trip and use it as if to say "oh look i'm a better player than x,y and z" and try to give themselves more status.
  18. hellraiser

    hellraiser Member

    It's not like the principal cornet gets to play anything much more difficult than the other soloists these days. For example you have soprano & flugel having to play solos which can be equally difficult and exposed. I think the leadership thing is overstated.

    I agree that the "assistant" titles are a joke, however I don't mind other soloists getting a 'principal' in their title. Banding has moved on, it's not just about getting a decent principal cornet and euph, putting retired/failed players on bass and perc, passengers on backrow, flugel for someone who couldn't make it on front row etc. those days are well and truly gone.

    It's pretty obvious you need decent players on the end of all sections these days as the music is arranged for the whole band more, it seems.
  19. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    It seems to me that if you have the word 'principal' in your title (real or otherwise, deserved or otherwise) you are required to take on certain responsibilities that go with the territory.

    Now, if you ask me, anyone who wants to take on more responsibilities without a pay increase is a bit daft in the head.

    I don't mind the title 'Solo Eb Bass', after all I do play solos. Solo also has certain connotations to do with height (meaning can play high notes) and I'm usually happy to take the higher part in split parts. However, I don't want to be responsible for anything! (Anything at all:))

    So I would object quite strongly to being dubbed Principal Eb Bass. (An in any case, Judith would probably do some very painful things to me if I did take on such airs!)
  20. B'aht a band

    B'aht a band Member

    I agree with bruceg.... in as much as I let Andi Cook take the low part (cos he could always play pedals nicer than me! :clap: ), and I took the higher register, although when it came to solo's, we let the EEb basses do the hard work (especially "Dances And Arias" !!).

    I am at pains to point out that I did play the solo's in "St. Magnus" all on my own though! :cool: (in New Zealand)


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