Swingalongabrass

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by its_jon, May 29, 2009.

  1. its_jon

    its_jon Member

    I just played 3 chronic 'brass bands can swing' stylee' numbers in a row.

    The writing was appalling. most unintuitive. A style of writing that works for robots but not for musicians im afraid. dotted quavers followed by semi quavers (or worse divisions) all over the place - you know the garbage im on about. I have to take a pencil and re-write the rhythms all over the place to make it legible.
    Struth.... no wonder our band is disjointed. To top it off the melody lines cut to shreds throughout the band.

    Simple music written in a complicated way - that helps no-one.
     
  2. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    I've never seen why some composers/arrangers insist on scoring swing quavers as dotted-quaver-semiquaver, rather than just writing them normally and letting the player apply swing style, rhythm and articulation. It seems to me that it just makes life more difficult.

    If they engage properly with the style, there is no reason brass bands can't play swing. In fact I've played in a number of bands who manage it very well. The first step is the realisation that "No, it's NOT a 6:8 rhythm." After that, the rest is easy....

    Success or failure seems to depend on the attitude of the players. (And how many of them own any Dizzy Gillespie EPs.)
     
  3. MrsDoyle

    MrsDoyle Supporting Member

    Last night we did Glenn Miller Special at Farndon, and it was altogether too twiddly. There were lots of dotted-crotchet-semiquavers in my part and it confused most of the band altogether.
     
  4. rosolino

    rosolino Member

    Probably says more about the conductor's rehearsal technique! imho
     
  5. its_jon

    its_jon Member

    Exactly !

    Not only does it make life more difficult but it is condescending for an arranger to assume players incapable of swinging a number....

    Arranger Respect = ZERO

    We waste more time trying to play simple music written badly than anything else.
    By writing in this way arrangers are simply proving the fact that Brass Bands can't swing ! ...... I don't believe that personally as I'm not that condescending towards musicians.
     
  6. MrsDoyle

    MrsDoyle Supporting Member

    I'll pass that on, rosolino. I don't think he'd like that. ;-)
     
  7. MrsDoyle

    MrsDoyle Supporting Member

    For anyone who misunderstood my previous post (I have had a PM or two), I was not knocking the genre, I was pointing out that the arrangement of the medley was a little too twiddly for my liking.
     
  8. rosolino

    rosolino Member

    Was it just you that found it "to twiddly" or the whole band? What do you mean by to twiddly? Do you listen to swing music, as has been suggested elsewhere? How familiar is the conductor with the swing genre? I have mentioned on similar threads that youngsters find it fairly easy to get into the swing of things when faced with the style. Why do adults find reading it so difficult? Listen and copy. At the risk of repeating myself from similar threads even Cory got Barry Forgie from the BBC Big Band in before Brass In Concert so what is to stop your band from getting a local big band player if playing the correct style is so important. If it's ok for Bob Childs then ...
     
  9. MrsDoyle

    MrsDoyle Supporting Member

    Well, there were quite a few awkward rhythms in the piece, and I do listen to swing music. It was really the way the piece was written rather than a stylistic issue.
     
  10. Al

    Al Member

    The problem is probably that in brass band training, so much emphasis is placed on reading the notes correctly and making sure they are played exactly as written. To step away from those constraints just doesn't seem natural, and of course 'busking' of any sort is generally frowned upon.

    Also due to training methods, if you take the music away from the vast majority of players they can't play at all, perhaps except the solo cornets if they have melody.
     
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  12. still learnin

    still learnin Member

    There definitely seems to be a trend away from more traditional brass band music towards big band style numbers in a lot of outfits. Some bands are better at it than others. I personally think it's a pity that many bands seem to have pads full of swing music these days and prefer their cornets to sound like trumpets.

    Is it what today's audiences expect or just a reflection of what some MDs prefer to do? I often hear players moaning about it over a pint!
     
  13. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    My sentiments exactly. However, for my money, the dotted-quaver-semiquaver approach is even more 'incorrect' if you will, than the concept of writing simple quavers and having the player swing them.

    We spend an enormous amount of time with young players (and not so young ones) teaching them to play dotted-quaver-semiquaver correctly, in marches, overtures etc, because it is so important that the semiquaver is given the correct space, and that the note lengths do not tend toward compound time.

    Notating swung music in this manner can only serve to exacerbate the problem, in my opinion, because it ceases to be a question of style, and becomes one of accuracy.

    That said, some composers/arrangers are so convinced brass bands cannot play swing quavers correctly that they notate everything as a crotchet-quaver triplet, which is also completely wrong!!
     
  14. Red Dog Brass

    Red Dog Brass Member

    If people really want some "swing" and big band sounds, check out www.reddogbrass.com - all charts being launched officially at the end of the week!
     
  15. its_jon

    its_jon Member

    YES ! I whole heartily agree !
     
  16. its_jon

    its_jon Member

    Hmm..... Depends on what the Adults are reading.

    The youngsters in our band seem to play whatever is put in front of them literally, mechanically and without question.
    So....Swingalongabrass numbers tend to suit them....
    In the long run though... it can't be good for the kids to be exposed to this form of writing for too long.... Unfortunately it is a form of writing which is also making its way into specific junior brass junior scores.
    Having said that.... place some straight music in front of the same Kids and tell them to swing it and you will get blank looks. As Swing is a style of reading, not something that is read.

    A recent regional test piece had a awkwardly written principal cornet entry in the opening bars. It was written in Swingalongabrass style. Instead of re-writing it out straight and giving it a bit of swing attitude our principal attempted to play it as written.... just sounded scrappy... Not his fault in my eyes.. Poor writing in the first place.

    We are one of those bands who seem to have unfortunatly accumulated a large amount of this 'plastic-swing' music. It has got to the point where our players get jumpy and nervy when they have to play something traditional, classical or march like....

    Before you can master Swing you must first learn how to play more basic rhythems competantly .... and this is what has me worried about youth exposed to this Swingalongabrass stuff. They appear to be bypassing some important foundations.....
    eg...... playing 'swing-by-numbers' badly without first been able to play 4 crotchets a bar with a SwMw pulse well.
    We have older teenages today in our band who can't apply a rhythmic pulse to a simple series of notes as the basics appear to have been ignored.
     

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