Stop Cop Out Arrangements, Your Not Fooling Anyone!!!

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by JonP, Apr 9, 2007.


For our Greatest soloists. Not taking maketing into account. Arrange for:

  1. Ease of soloists practise and performance

  2. Integrity of musical values and our movement as a whole

  3. Puerly audience. What they want they get.

  1. JonP

    JonP Member

    Why do brass band soloists feel they have the right to arrange any classical concerto in the home key, or at least an easy key for thier instrument?? Everyone knows these guys/girls can play a cmajor scale (for thier instrument) at a warp 9.7!! I find it a little insulting to be bombarded with the works of some posh composers in Eb and Bb when they blatantly would have written it in that key for their instrument of choice, if they wanted it that way! I have zero problem with playing solos intended for other instruments, if you think you can add something of musical value within the genre, but its so artisticaly unacceptable (i believe) to make it easy for your instrument. There are pieces we can now choose in what key to listen , by what instrument is playing it!! Its so lame.

    And whats worse is we, the nation that made Mr Blobby christmas number one, lap it up like dogs eating hot chips!!! Are we daft?? They are selling us dummies?
  2. Nuke

    Nuke Active Member

    Are you trying to insinuate that Mr Blobby was not a worthy christmas number one?
  3. JonP

    JonP Member

    Its only my opinion, hope i have not caused any offence. Lol ;-)

    Although i think its a good enough argument to stop national referendums on serious subjects like enty to a single european currency, or unilateral disarmament!! Whenever asked about such things as a general public i always think, Mr Blobby!! Sorry rant over!

    1993 what a year.
  4. Nuke

    Nuke Active Member

    On a more serious note maybe they are just making what could pottentially be more difficult pieces easier so that more people can play them.

    This in turn appeals to a wider audience so that they can sell more copies to what is already a very marginalised market (i know its hard to accept not everyone plays an instrument).
    In a world of profit and margins i imagine selling more of the piece makes up for the fact that they have butchered it musically.

    Atleast we didnt let the darkness get xmas number one though.
  5. youngblood

    youngblood Member

    Seems a bit hard hitting and out of the blue! I wonder if something has happened that has rattled your cage as they say?

    I am interested in the context of your post as it is a valid point to talk about but why are you making it now? Has something happened to bring this to your attention or have you been fuming for years, I do hope not?

    One has to ask if the audiences are happy and the soloists are happy is there an issue? If no-one cares and the music is enjoyable to all concerned as you imply why worry!

    For the soloists they may still be developing the required skills or may not feel it matters. I think it is more of a personal challenge for the soloists in question to always do the best they can to put on a good show what ever that may be. It may be following the composer note for note or it may be something else.

    Brass bands have not got that big a following and we need to moving forward maybe into composing and performing more contempory music. There are some good composers out there so maybe rather than altering traditional work the soloists could be seeking new work to play.

    Anyway your point is worth making and one that I am sure others will have something to say about so ideal for a forum subject as we all like a good debate.


  6. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    Also I think you need to consider that it might not always be the soloist's problem. He/she may well be able to play the piece in the original key, but what about the accompaniment? Many performers often find themselves acting as guest soloist with lower section bands. What's the point of them turning up with a copy of a classical concerto arranged for band in the key of z-double-sharp minor and putting it in front of a 3rd/4th section band? (sorry, that may be a bit of a narrow generalisation - I've known some 1st/champ. section bands who don't cope too well with 5 or 6 sharps on limited rehearsal)

    Maybe you need to look at the wider picture.
  7. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    I think this is an area where there are pros and cons and we may well have to agree to disagree! As far as I am concerned, if changing the key makes it more accessible to players and audiences then I have no real objection, although there is a sense in which, if it is intended as a virtuosic work, it shouldn't be made to sound too easy. I can think of a number of instances where pieces have been rearranged in their original keys as the earlier versions did not seem fully effective.

    When Bach or Vivaldi rearranged their own (and other people's) pieces as concertos or orchestral works, they were perfectly willing to change the key. Equally, with the change in pitch over the years, who is to say what the appropriate key would be?

    You also have the situation where a solo work may have been written for an instrument that is not in current usage - such as trumpet in E, for example. Are you really going to ask your soloist to make the appropriate transposition into what would be some very obscure keys? It could also be argued that using valves on a piece originally for natural trumpet or horn is equally "a cop-out", but top players continue to do so.
  8. TheMusicMan

    TheMusicMan tMP Founder Staff Member

    Phah... you try playing Bach's Badinerie in the correct key... anyone would think you could play it... :):)
  9. Anglo Music Press

    Anglo Music Press Active Member

    This doesn't just apply to brass band soloists. The Hummel Trumpet Concerto was written in E but many famous orchestral soloists play it in Eb.

    I can't see it as a problem. Also, sometimes a transposition is made for considerations of range as well as key.
  10. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member

    Although I see your point, Jon, I have to agree with Philip. Arrangements are intended to allow one medium to play music originally intended for another. Jon, you and I can play in any key because we have had a good orchestral training followed by professional experience, but many brass band players have been brought up on a diet of 'Tunes and Toasts for all Times' and the red hymn book.

    Arrangers, whilst arranging a piece for David Childs to play also have to think about how many copies they are going to sell to 'normal' euphonium players who can't play everything at the light speed but still have enough technical facility to play 'Grandfather's Clock' for example.

    I've been cursed with perfect pitch, so know in an instant when a piece I know has been arranged in a different key. When I'm doing band arrangements, I arrange them at pitch, then transpose afterwards. However, as Philip said, arrangements are made to suit the players for which they are intended. If that means that the arranger has to take it down a tone, then, so be it.

    Howard Snell's arrangement of Roman Festivals (Respighi) is down a tone from the original. It can hardly be described as a 'cop out'!

    Final thought! I'm sure you will appreciate this one; Ravel's Bolero was originally written in D major (trombone solo starting on concert C), but the bassoon and trombone principals from the orchestra who played the premiere 'asked' Ravel to change it. When I say 'asked', contemporary reports suggest that poor old Maurice was threatened with violence until he rescored!:eek:
  11. Morghoven

    Morghoven Member

    Many original keys (especially for concertos) are picked because they are more comfortable keys for the original instrument.

    Take the Mendelssohn violin concerto for instance - 1st movement in E minor, last movement in E major. Try getting a violinist to play the first movt. in F minor. All the notes are still available on the instrument, and a violin soloist is perfectly competent in F minor, but the piece is pretty much unplayable. Why? Because E minor falls nicely across the open strings, whereas F minor doesn't.

    Now go to our own famous tenor horn transcription, and get one of our top horn players to play the last movement in their C sharp major (concert E). Again, theoretically possible, but makes the piece unnecessarily hard. It is by no means easy in concert E flat!

    Orchestral brass players do get used to playing in extreme keys, certainly on the sharp side. Why? Because sharp keys sit easier on strings, and they outnumber everyone else!

    Finally, I think any of us who have had to attempt the Bolero trombone solo are very grateful that violence was threatened. But why did they stop there? Another couple of tones would have been even better!! :D

  12. JonP

    JonP Member

    These are all good and valid points, and im sure music man is right as i am guilty of recording an arrangement (although not by myself i hasten to add) of bandinerie in a much easier key than the origional im sure. In hindsite though, although its a good arrangement and was fun to play, i find myself asking have i actually added anything to the genre, did i add anything positive to the work of Bach, or was it totally self gratification and a cheap way of showing i could play fast? I think unfortunatly probably the latter. I proved i can play lots of fast notes, but you only have to listen to that piece played by any violin and i would challenge you to say the trombone or tuba arrangements come even close. I suppose its a lollipop, a nice encore or something but now 7 years later i would say it really is artistically inferior.

    Is it not true that it wont matter how well a tenor horn player manages to play the mend concerto it will always be surpassed by even the poorest violin recording, in all ways. Im not annoyed or rattled at all by people doing this, it doesnt effect me directly, and i am guilty of doing it myself in the past (although it was arranged by a much finer arranger than myself), but i still say i dont think in truth that any of these thing really work, including my own. The idea that the Mand concerto was written in Eminor because its easier for the violin may be valid, so should we brazenly change the works of the graet composers to suit ourselfs because the keys were only chosen as a bi product of creating simplicity for the soloist? Is it not more likely that teh was stetching for a concerto nd chose teh instrument post sketches and key selection? I suppose we will never know. Surely this is a massive generaliation. I cant believe its the case. Or at least i find it hard to accept. When it comes to larger arrangements like the firebird and pines of rome they obviously do work much better, but it would be interesting to know why Mr Snell dropped the keys. Firebird would work for band in the origional key, although it would be harder to learn, so was it that he believed it would be easier in that key or would work better??

    The bolero storey is a good one. I dont think he wanted to change the key though did he?? Mr Snell put it down another tone for the band arrangement, which is a nightmare if sightreading it in a concert!!! I recently did a new arrangement of the sea songs in teh massed band gig with BnR and Cory and it was in the origional key and worked miles better than the old arrangement!! just an example.

    My intentions here are only to start a lively debate. The title is pitched for that. Seems to be working. tahnks for replying with such vigour.
  13. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member

    I agree with your point, but my professional violinist wife has just shouted at the computer! By the time a violinist attempts the Meldelssohn, they can play everything in every key!

    Yes, it's true. Spare a thought for our old mate Tempo, who accidentally started on a C, but thought it was better to carry on than correct himself! It was in Symphony Hall too! Spare a thought for me, also. The first time I ever played Bolero was live on telly with no bumper! The pint afterwards tasted very, very nice!
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2007
  14. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member

    I'm going to start a new debate. Typing skills for JP;)
  15. Ipswich trom

    Ipswich trom Member

    Who says it is just brass band soloists. I have a recording at home of Beethoven's Violin Concerto arranged for Clarinet. In my opinion it sounds absolutely crazy, mainly because it was written with the Violin in mind and there are parts which just don't work or at least sound convincing on the Clarinet. Also, I suppose that being used to hearing it played by the Violin it is just strange hearing it on the Clarinet!

    With arrangements for Band and solo instrument I suppose there is some point to actually making the arrangement for that medium but why convert the Violin Concerto for a Clarinet which already has an ample supply of concertos written especially for the instrument.

    Having said that, Mozart himself arranged his Oboe concerto for Flute as he hated the Flute so much that he couldn't be bothered to write a new concerto when requested to by an eminent Flautist! So, if it's good enough for Wolfgang, who are we to moan about it!!
  16. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member

    Off topic here, sorry. Serves me right for shooting my mouth off about Bolero. The phone has just rung and I've got to play it in a couple of weeks time:eek:. In the words of Harry Hill; What were the chances of that happening?
  17. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    Even the violinist will be a letdown after the flute original ;)
  18. Hello Mr Pippin! We have spoken on the odd GGYBB course, all im gona say about perfroming in a different key to the orginal is that, i think its down to the player, if i were to play a concerto that has been arrainged into a different key, in a concert then i dont think that everyone in the audience would, 1) have a recording of the original that they were listening to or 2) be prepared to write and adjudication for the solo which is being played. When ive herd the mend violin concerto being played by a tenor horn before its been given a standing ovation! Just as being performed with a violin could! This reforces my point that music is getting so stuck up and arrogant and the fact is why cant brass players realise that the majority of the time u are playing to audiences and not all of them are brass musicians and they want to listen to fun interesting music and if that means the solo is in an easier key then the soloist is happy and the audience is happy. This isnt a dig at you Mr Pippin, im just saying in gerneral i just feel if your a devoloping musician at a youth level like myself then seeing solos in an easier key makes it easier for me, to perform some of the bigger solos. Fantastic point to make tho, right off for a curry!
  19. David Mann

    David Mann Member

    I don't have a problem with changing the key. On Sunday we decided to have "Thine be the glory" in church and I was asked to play trumpet. The descant part worked best on sop, and I had to choose between concert E major (7 sharps or 5 flats) or Eb (no flats or sharps). No-brainer!
    I would object if an original piece was arranged so as to change the overall range. The SA cornet solo "Tucker" goes from F# below the stave to D above, so no room for changing the key. However, Meditation from Thais on the violin has a range of 3 octaves in the original, so for me can only be played convincingly on a 4v euph by a player with a fantastic sound from brass band low f to super f (the published arrangements I have seen "cop out" on a final d).
  20. Bayerd

    Bayerd Active Member

    Surely it would depend on how the overall musical picture changes. Why would you keep the solo in the original key and making things much more difficult for yourself and potentially artistically damaging to satisfy a couple of BOCs? I would think that most people would prefer a convincing performance to one that wasn't musically as good because of the technical demands.

    I think sometimes we become too hung up on the smallest of details in performance which probably go unnoticed to the vast majority of audiences anyway.

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