Symphonic Wind

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by IYOUNG, Apr 7, 2005.


    IYOUNG Member

    I have a feeling this maybe asking for trouble!!

    But can anyone explain what is Symphonic Wind?

    Ie whats the difference between a group that calls themselves a ''wind band'' and one that calls themselves a ''symphonic wind band''

  2. stephen_clapton

    stephen_clapton New Member

    A band after a curry :p
  3. Andy_Euph

    Andy_Euph Active Member

    I think it could be as simple as Symphonic winds are like an orchestra and normally have a larger number of players whereas wind bands are just like brass bands
  4. Naomi McFadyen

    Naomi McFadyen New Member

    from google:

    A wind band, also called concert band, symphonic band, or wind ensemble, is a performing ensemble consisting of woodwind, brass, and percussion instruments, and string bass. Its various repertoire include original wind compositions, arranged classical items, light music and popular tunes. Though the instrumentation is similar, it is distinguished from the marching band in that its primary function is as a concert ensemble. The repertoire for a concert band may, however, contain marches.

    and this:
    THE "WIND BAND", the "Symphonic Band", the "Concert Band", the "Wind Ensemble", the "Wind Orchestra": these are all synonyms for an ensemble which relies mainly on wind instruments and percussion, with few or no string parts. It is a medium that only became popular in the middle of the 20th century. Actually we've already seen these ensembles in different forms, from the serenade wind bands of Mozart to the English brass bands, to Sousa's marching band, Glen Miller's big band, to the military bands in every country plus the many wind orchestras and symphonic bands which exist in the world today.

    is from <-- that site....

    Google... has answers to everything ;-)
  5. Anglo Music Press

    Anglo Music Press Well-Known Member

    Symphonic Wind Band was a name given to large University Wind Bands from the 1960's. It usually implies a very full instrumentation with all the low woodwinds. Often with Harp and Piano.

    This is how I see it:-

    Many schools and universities over there have more than one band and so the need arose to give them all different names (without implying which was better than the rest! typically US!). Concert Band arose to distinguish it from the Marching Band. Wind Ensemble now implies 'one per part' and is often given to the top group in a university.

    Wind Band is what they actually all are but this sounds a bit common for some! Wind orchestra is the name used by those who don't like the word band!
  6. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    There is certainly a lot of overlap in the naming of various wind groups, as has already been said. When Frederick Fennell set up the Eastman Wind Ensemble he chose that name specifically to distinguish it from the larger, multi-doubled groups, setting out as far as possible to use the original instrumentation intended by the composer/arranger.

    In my own thinking, I tend to feel that the term 'band' implies a larger, more ad-hoc group, but that is certainly not always the case. There are still many very large wind groups active in the States - such as the Cincinatti one - where it is not uncommon to have very large numbers.

    Just to add to the confusion, the RNCM - which previously recorded for Chandos under the title RNCM Wind Orchestra - has recently released a couple of recordings under the name RNCM Concert Band ;)
  7. Jan H

    Jan H Moderator Staff Member

    In countries like Spain and Italy, but also over here in the Low Countries and Germany, the tyical "winds bands" tend to be much bigger then what you're used to in the UK, I think.

    The largest Spanish wind bands (like La artistica Bunol for example) consist of more then 120 people and often include contrabass and even cellos (celli?). In German, wind bands are called "synfonisches blasorchester". It's from this that the the term "symphonic wind orchestra" is probably derived...
  8. Anglo Music Press

    Anglo Music Press Well-Known Member

    You are right, Peter. And you won't believe the reason, but this IS the truth.

    Timothy Reynish records the RNCM group on the Chandos label. But he thinks that anything Studio Music publishes is not worthy, so he demanded that they change their name for the Polyphonic (Studio) label.

    Nowt as queer as folk!!:confused:
  9. DaveR

    DaveR Active Member

    Sounds to me like the academic distinction between brass and silver bands!
  10. Aidan Geary

    Aidan Geary Member

    In addition to the above resposes, when I was at college, the 'Wind Band' was all players who wanted to turn up - usually masses of flutes and clarinets hunting in packs. The 'Symphonic Wind Ensemble' was the elite, and was 1 player per part.

    It may be of interest, that when Nigel Hess recorded his music on the Chandos label, he made all the clarinets play the same make and model instrument to avoid intonation problems!!!!!
  11. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    And a very fine recording it is - Winds of Change ;)
  12. Aidan Geary

    Aidan Geary Member

    Agreed - I think that the arrangements on this particular CD work far better for wind band than the brass band transcriptions.
  13. Dave Euph

    Dave Euph Member

    Might have something to do with repertoire, since "symphonic wind ensembles" tend to play larger and more "epic" and perhaps challenging pieces than a "wind/concert band". Also, the number of parts can vary; for some reason you can get baritone horn parts but not euphonium parts in concert band scores. However, in a symphonic wind band score you will get a euphonium part (usually split) but no baritone horn part. Very occasionally you get both!

    But at the end of the day there is a good deal of crossover between them.
  14. Anglo Music Press

    Anglo Music Press Well-Known Member

    Not strictly true. Baritone is just a US term and hence only found in US scores. My scores only have euph parts, and they are definitely written for concert band - a term which is fast becoming universal.
  15. Adrian Horn

    Adrian Horn Member

    As we're on the subject of Wind Bands/Orchestras etc, I was wondering Philip, as lot of your music is available in both brass band and concert band versions, do you generally write for brass band first then transcribe to wind band or vice-versa, or do you write with them both in mind?

    I know this is going slightly off topic, but it's easier to ask you when I know you're looking at this topic, rather than trying to wave a flag at you from elsewhere on the forum!!
  16. Anglo Music Press

    Anglo Music Press Well-Known Member

    I've only once or twice been asked to do brass and wind versions at the same time (for contests that want the same test piece across classes). In other cases I don't write either for brass or wind with the intention of transcribing either, so it depends which comes first, as to which comes first - if you follow that!

    When I'm writing a piece that I know is needed in both versions, I tend to do brass first, as it's easier to expand than contract.
  17. Adrian Horn

    Adrian Horn Member

    Thanks Philip.
  18. Brian Bowen

    Brian Bowen Active Member

    I think this particular issue has come up before on tMP. Many enlightened composers of concert band music in the States now write "Euphonium" instead of "Baritone" on their scores, but a few diehards refuse to change (update) the nomenclature. Some publishers, in order to keep their composers happy, may accede to their wishes and retain "Baritone". I've even seen "Euphonium" used for the Bb treble clef part and "Baritone" for bass clef part (or vice versa) in the same set of parts. But "Euphonium" has definitely taken hold.

    On the Symphonic/Concert/Wind band matter, there's an English style brass band in New York City that calls itself the Gramercy Brass Orchestra. They consider themselves professional and think the "orchestra" bit has greater appeal. In the States, maybe they're right. Perhaps “orchestra” rather than “band” would encourage a different clientele to listen in the UK.;)

    TIMBONE Active Member

    The original question in this thread has been well covered. However, the old 'grey matter' has been stimulated by this topic. At one time, I was very involved in the military/wind/concert/symphonic band/ensemble movement as a conductor/player/writer(unpublished). Working as I did with youth and community bands/orchestras, I encountered a problem. I think that all the terms I have used should give you an idea as to what this was. I am speaking about the instrumentation. I found that the 'Symphonic Wind Band' influence had made it very difficult to cover every part in a composition/arrangement. I directed two youth bands and a community band, and I never had an alto clarinet, a full french horn section (4), and often did not have enough oboes, 2nd alto and baritone saxes, bass clarinet and so on.

    I always wished that in this country we had stuck to the 25 piece military/wind band standardised in the 1920's, (with optional extras), like the brass band has. Even the Symphony Orchestra has retained a basic instrumentation to a large extent. (I refer to this in an article I wrote for "Winds", the BASBWE journal, some time ago. I will dig it out and find when it was if anyone would like to know).

    One final comment. I did rename one of my bands, (Trafford Wind Band), as Trafford Wind Orchestra. I realised/discovered that 'orchestra' is not historically synonymous with stringed instruments, indeed, going back a long time, any instrumental ensemble was known as a band. 'Orchestra' refers to more than one player as far as I remember, and I felt that using this term (wind orchestra) said that this was a serious ensemble, not just people who march and play marches.
  20. persins

    persins Member

    Interesting theory!!! Don't think it works though!! I never heard of two clarinets playing in tune (unless one of them is dead). We all have matching instruments in the cornet section at Woodfalls but we still have intonation problems. Individuals will still play in their own way no matter what the instrument is!!!

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