Square Pegs In Round Holes

Discussion in 'The Adjudicators' Comments' started by critic, Jun 15, 2011.

  1. critic

    critic Member

    Over the last few weeks many discussions on this thread
    Have been about solving the many problems in our movement ie getting all the different bodys pulling in the same direction instead of self interest. The Brass band movement is so insular in the wide musical world for example not enough broadcast time on radio and virtually none on television so we are up against it from the start.
    We are generally looked down upon by the so called musical establishment [Snobs in a lot of cases] despite at times producing some top level music making certainly on par with most amateur orchestras and indeed some professional ones. So whats the answer?
    We need to address the contest scene Ie open adjudication in some cases selling our product moreand somehow giving our bands especially our top ones a more level playing field in the wide musicall world. The lower sections need a total revamp as we are not getting the balance right ie the title of the thread.There is no doubt we have some real talented musicians and indeed Officers in our movement but unless we get a grip this great movement will slowly decline. Im Sure many will have there own views on this subject i just thought it worth a thread
  2. back beat

    back beat Member

    I agree, but whilst you have the likes of Kapitol running the show nothing will develop beyond their own self interest. I'm sure you're aware of the trouble in Wales at the moment and whether you agree or disagree with what's happened down here the lack of transparency and professionalism is staggering.

    The Whole thing needs a complete revamp with people who know and care about bands and not themselves and their mates.
  3. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    I find this an interesting sentence that doesn't reflect the world I see entirely accurately. Used by some people, it would indicate a chip on a shoulder, but I don't know you well enough to comment.

    In terms of precision and accuracy, I agree that a lot of what the top bands offer up performancewise probably beats a lot of what pretty much all professional orchestras offer up. We in banding have a propensity (probably driven by contesting) to consider these qualities as the be-all and end-all of music making. This propensity is not in general shared in the wider musical world.

    The trump card that the orchestras hold is their repertoire. As I wrote recently on another thread on this site, this repertoire has become dangerously fossilised, but it still is chock-full of veritable masterworks from the 19th century, which are the works that draw the audiences in. Sadly for brass bands, in the 19th century we were fixated solely on arrangements, and by the time we got around to establishing our own repertoire, contemporary compositional styles had moved to a place that cares surprisingly little about pleasing audiences and players. The result is that bands have very little repertoire that can hold a candle to the quality of the bulk of the orchestral repertoire.

    I find that what people in banding tend to call "being looked down on by the musical establishment" equates directly to non-banders preferring to listen to a duff orchestra knock out wonderful music than listen to a world-class band knocking out duff music. Anything less than wholehearted admiration is interpreted as snobbery and looking down the nose at us - and more discerning listeners cannot help but be struck by the lack of real depth in our repertoire. They want to listen to good music more than they care about the standard of performance; we, due to our contesting fixation, are facing in the opposite direction to that sentiment. Not that there's anything wrong with that - but we should recognise the at-least-equal validity of the opposing point of view rather than throw it out by characterising it as "snobbish".
  4. cockaigne

    cockaigne Member

    Agreed - very diplomatically-handled, Dave!

    'Critic' mentions in his original post how insular the banding world has become. What he sees as snobbery may merely be blithe ignorance; something we can hardly blame the general public for if we shut ourselves away in the bandroom, only ever coming out for contests, carolling and the Rememberance Sunday/Armistice Day services. I exaggerate, but am trying to make a point by doing so: Bands need to play a part in their community in order to attract support and interest. Even if they're not well-paid (perhaps not at all), I feel it's important for bands to take on jobs which give them the chance to show off their hard work other than on the contest stage. Getting used to performing publicly - and enjoying it - pays off on the contest stage too, I find; if the contesting is all we do, it becomes far too important/pressurised/stressful for all concerned.

    A division does exist for a lot of people between brass bands and other forms of music-making, down to a couple of factors:

    1) Not all band instruments have an orchestral equivalent - in fact, some don't feature anywhere else
    2) Players who have learned to play in a band will not necessarily have the skills required to play in an orchestra (eg. transposition, reading of different clefs). Of course point (2) is not universally the case - but I know more orchestral players who also play in bands, than bandsmen who play in orchestras, if you see what I mean.

    Broadcast-wise, I can't think of any amateur/hobby movement (and I'm not being snobbish) which gets regular air-time on a national radio network (thinking of Listen to the Band). The Eisteddfod contest in Wales is usually televised on S4C - the winning performance, if not the whole thing (but would the viewers want to see a whole contest?) and I would hope that the National Finals coming to Cheltenham will attract local news coverage there - for the right reasons, of course. The big contests are 'promoted' by organisers (think of Kapitol) - but we can do our own bit. Contact your local paper when you have a big gig coming up; perhaps to raise funds for a trip to the finals? We need to promote ourselves as individual bands, and not be a closed shop.

    We don't do too badly; I wouldn't want to say that - but if we are seen as 'insular' we only have ourselves to blame. A lot of it is down to getting ourselves out there, and playing to our strengths, and to our communities. I once played for one band which bore the name of a particular village, yet in the year I was with that band, we only played a 'home' gig once - and far more contests than concerts... food for thought, perhaps.
  5. critic

    critic Member

    I agree with you and Dave on some points and yes we dont help ourselves at times. I certainly dont have a chip on my shoulder i just based it on over fifty five years in the movement and i certainly respect both your views