Suggestion For Composers

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by brassneck, Jan 31, 2006.

  1. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    In light of what has been covered in tMP regarding the need for more public performances of original works to better represent brass bands in this day and age, is it the case that what's being written is just too long in general? Should we encourage composers to write more shorter works that might hold the public's (or audience) interest? Should entertainment contests include at least one original work as well?
  2. midwalesman

    midwalesman Member


    I think the theory behind that idea is pretty good but on the other hand older original concert music were particularly longer than those that exist today. If you look at the very old pieces, the selections, they were fairly substantial. I think that pop music in particular has played a role in shortening the attention span of audiences to such an extent that anything that is over the bite size contribution is seen as hard work for the listeners. Leigh Baker has written some fantastic original stuff for our band (available through Kirklees Music ;-)) and those are 3 - 4 minutes. so the pieces exist in the entertainment category. In serious music I think there is a need to have pieces of a larger time frame since the musical ideas need time to develop, this may not have to be 15 minutes in length, but maybe 7 - 9 minutes?

    Orchestras have less pieces per concert than band programmes, but I have been to few of their concerts which have been of the bite size variety and been successful. To limit pieces to shorter versions may be good for some occasions but I think your idea of a balance is probably the best way to go.
  3. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    One of my thoughts behind this is how to become relevant to audiences who are unfamiliar with what brass bands are capable of using effects and technique. Although the public have learned to expect original items such as marches or solos, introductions to more modern or contemporary writing could be done with minimum risk if they are properly introduced and are short.

    TIMBONE Active Member

    Speaking as both a consumer and writer, I find this topic interesting. I agree that the pop song (standard length two and a half minutes) is part of the public's need for something 'short and sweet', but I don't think it is the reason. Our lives have become much faster, and I think that it is much more difficult to spend too long concentrating on one subject. 'Classic FM' has been a great success. Those who created this commercial radio station knew that there was an interest in classical music. They also knew that it would be good to play single pieces, or a single aria from an opera, a movement from a symphony, or one of the 'Planets'.

    More than once, I have heard someone say, "I love Mahler, but it is too long". On the other side of the scale, I once read a review about Malcolm Arnold's beautiful 5th Symphony, which said that it was too short for a symphony! So, the general public and the musical establishment, what a dilemma.

    So, back to 'Joe Public' and the brass band. I know that their are many composers out there who would love to know that their five or seven minute pieces were being played in concerts. However, most bands, who rely on their concerts and playing in parks and summer fairs for a lot of their income, will stick to being safe. A march, a tried and tested piece, a feature, a standard popular song or medley that all the audience know.

    Penine Music Publishing, Dragon Music, MMI, Thornes Music, and there are many others, all have shorter original pieces. This is not the RNCM Fesival of Brass or contest stuff, this is the material for the bandstand or the local concert.

    The shorter pieces are out there.
  5. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    - thanks Tim for continuing this thread ... actually it was one of our very top players who suggested to me that he would like to see more concert length originals being penned. If a piece was, say, less than 5 minutes and the public didn't like it, at least it wouldn't be such a turn-off than a full scale symphonic work! The formula worked for Elgar Howarth and why couldn't it work again? It doesn't have to be a concert full of new short works and they can be introduced gradually more and more over time.
  6. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    I know I've drawn comparison before between SA repertoire and other pieces, but there are numerous slightly longer original works from Salvationist composers. Due to the prime purpose of being used in a worship setting, there are only a few major festival works that would run to 15 minutes or more, but very many in the 5-10 minute range. Often being programmatical, sometimes using melodies that will be familiar, and written by such craftsmen as Peter Graham, Erik Leidzen, Kenneth Downie et al they can combine the desire for new music with the need for accessibility.

    Also, from my collection of recordings, it strikes me that our comrades on the continent are further ahead in this respect that we are over here, with numerous works by such composers as Bertrand Moren, Jan van der Roost and Johann Evenepoel which are then widely played. Equally, it is interesting that some of the most successful new band items have been in the form of suites, so that various movements can be programmed as required - "Windows of the World", "Call of the Cossacks", "Hymn of the Highlands" etc.
  7. DublinBass

    DublinBass Supporting Member

    I don't think it is the reason either. I think the reason our attention span for pop songs is often 2.5-3 min is because of how repetitive they are (verse/chorus/verse/chorus) ... There are some pop songs out their that are much longer and are very enjoyable to listen to because they are not so repetitive (eg Bohemian Rhapsody, Scene's from and Italian Restaurant come to mind)
  8. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    - nice little overview on the BBC website ...

    - I'm more concerned about what can be described as abstract or alien music presented to the general public. There are many forms of band writing that are still unrecognisable to audiences and if explained why they were created can bridge the knowledge gap between that and arrangements from other genres which they are conditioned to. Those we can term developmental originals which don't contain dance rhythms or popularly derived melodic material. Popular music today seems more to come from the marketing bods for major labels rather than the artists themselves who only seem to need to provide an image and some ability to promote whatever style they are contracted to. Independent music providers tend to struggle unless a form breaks through that gains cult status which challenges the market stranglehold. I would include original brass band music in this category. The problem is how to create understanding and appreciation in the wider world.
  9. brasscrest

    brasscrest Active Member

    Pop music tunes were historically short because of several factors - having to fit on a single side of a 45-rpm record and requirements of radio airplay (even ten years ago many radio stations would not play cuts longer than 4 minutes) being the most important. In concert, most pop performers perform longer versions of these same songs. The average length of popular songs has been rising since the advent of the CD, and is much closer to 4 minutes now than it is to 2.5 (at least in the US).

    I think that it's not so much the length of the pieces, but fitting the pieces to the audience that's important. Concert programming is distinct from programming for recording or even entertainment programming.

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