The Floral Dance etc.

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Dave Payn, Nov 9, 2004.

  1. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    OK folks, it's time to come out with this question (and other accompanying ones)

    Do you still play Floral Dance in your concerts?

    If you do, do your audiences react enthusiastically or give polite applause (depending I suppose, on where it's programmed)?

    Do you still feel it's relevant in 21st century brass band concert programming (indoor AND outdoor)?

    Do you actively avoid it (conductors and players alike)?

    Do SA bands, for instance, ever include it in their programmes? Is it relevant to YOUR audiences?

    I'll be accused of bias, I suppose, as I have made my feelings known about this particular piece, (largely negative, in case you didn't know!).

    My own feelings are:

    It was topical some 27 years ago, and for a few years after, but have bands flogged it to death so much that 'bandstand and concert' audiences genuinely expect and demand it in 2004? Are we not 'pigeon holing' brass bands by continuing to perform it, in a similar vein to the perception in bygone eras that brass bands are associated with 'flat caps' and 'Hovis' and the like? Do you not think that brass bands could and should have left this sort of thing behind? Do you not think that as soon as something comes along that brings brass bands into the eyes and ears of the general public, (like Hovis, Floral Dance, Brassed Off) that they're continual inclusion in 'easy listening' brass band concerts (or indeed, 'encores') for years afterwards gives Joe Public a highly limited view of what brass bands are capable of and thereafter, what to expect from bands? Or are we simply there to appeal to a distinctly limited and insular audience (as I feel is the case these days)? As a born and bred Londoner, is it merely a coincidence that brass bands feature less regularly at 'prestigious' jobs like the Royal parks, because (as I believe) they perform BY AND LARGE the same old stuff that they were 20 years ago?

    Basically, isn't it time to move on from this 'stereotyping', at least insofar as the general public's perception of brass bands? Our top bands nowadays (and many more besides) contain highly skilled and adaptable musicians (as, I dare say, they have done in the past! :)). Is there really no 'middle ground' these days (in the public's eyes and ears) between contesting pieces and 'cheese'?

    I am aware that some bands are willing to try something 'different', but in my experience (I chose those words carefully) there is to me, an unhealthy reliance by bands on the cheese that was predominant some 20 years ago. Are bands IN GENERAL unwilling to deviate from the 'tried and trusted' in case they think they might 'alienate' their audiences?

    I'm well prepared for the 'brickbats', so fire your missiles!

    Bl**dy southerners! ;-)
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2004
  2. WoodenFlugel

    WoodenFlugel Moderator Staff Member

    Well the tMP band did at Pontins and judging by the audience reaction it got it's the best piece of brass writing, no actually, it's the best piece of music ever. Period. No question. ;)

  3. DublinBass

    DublinBass Supporting Member

    I'd like to think the fluff or cliche brass band music or drovel, whatever you want to call it can be sprinkled throughout a concert to keep the audience happy.

    Let's face it nobody wants to play a concert where there are more people in the band. I think we need to try to please the public.

    One of the things I really like to do (and this is quite difficult with one of our local favorites - Stars & Stripes) is sit down and play it flawlessly with all the musical nuances.

    If you look at some of these 'pop' tunes, bands often just blow through them blasting away instead of really reading the music carefully and playing all the subtleties. I think alot can be done with these pieces so they are still worthwhile for the band as well as the audience.
  4. ScreamingSop

    ScreamingSop Member

    we play it and the audience LOVE it, they tap ther feet and clap ther hands!!!
  5. Naomi McFadyen

    Naomi McFadyen New Member

    I played it for 2 years straight in my first band... At a guess I'd imagine they still play it 3 years on... seeing as they are a Cornish band :lol:

    Audiences love it!

  6. WoodenFlugel

    WoodenFlugel Moderator Staff Member

    Right having got that out of my system I'll answer proplerly...;)
    No and I haven't played it, or anything like Strawberry Fair etc etc at a formal concert for years now.

    Well although I hate the piece almost as much as you seem to Dave ( I don't think anyone could hate it quite as much as you Dave ;) ), I have to say that it does, for whatever reason, seem to go down quite well with audiences of all types. I don't know why that should be....maybe the General Public actually recognise it as ultimate cheese and react in an ironic way? I'm no psycologist, or whatever a brain doctor is called, but that's the best reason I can think of just now for it being so popular.

    NO!!!!!!! :x

    As I said I haven't played it (apart from Pontins) for some time. I don't get involved in setting the programs for Wigston's concerts, so I can't say for sure, but I guess the answer to that is a qualified "yes".

    I don't think really it has any real relevance to what the majority of band's are doing these days. Having said that (and this might be controversial) it's not the worst piece I've ever played by a long way. I can think of several "arrangements" (and I use the term in the loosest possible way) of pop and classical pieces that are one hundred times worse - and are played much more often than the Floral Dance is these days. Yet we seem to accept them and keep chucking our £15's or whatever at these "arrangers" for more and more of this rubbish. The Floral Dance is much vilified in comparison, but why? Maybe because it got to No.1.

    Anyway the topic of where the public sees the movement verses where bandspeople want the movement to be has been touched on here before. It is worth repeating though. It seems to me that we're in a vicious circle - we want to play more serious music, and the top bands are well capable of it too, but our audience as it stands prefers to hear us playing lighter pieces. I have neither the brain capacity, or the drive to change that, and I suspect there are very few people around who have. But if we all "do our bit", as best we can then surely, slowly things might start to happen. We as a movement need to keep bashing the powers that be, keep trying to change the perception. But also internally the movement needs to stop it's sniping at pieces that are "different", and to be more open minded at times. After all how can we expect our audiences to be open minded when we react so badly to any "serious" composition that doesn't fit into the "three movement, fast-slow-fast, 10 minute long, solos for cornet, euph and solo horn and lots of tunes" type of piece?

    It's late - I might regret saying some of that tomorrow, but I hope in all that useless rambling there is at least a thread of sense, however thin!!

    Great thread BTW!!

    TIMBONE Active Member

    "FLORAL DANCE" is a rather attractive melody with very happy overtones. My first memory of it is hearing that old recording quite regularly on Saturday mornings, (on the Light Programme, Radio 2). It was sung eloquently by a gentleman, referring to an old Cornish tradition, with country folk dancing and playing English folk instruments. It makes many people think of long summer days when the sun was always shining and the world was a happier place.

  8. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    At the time The Floral Dance came out, it was a nice, simple sounding arrangement, especially with the echo effects at the end. Only was stopped from getting the No.1 spot from Paul McCartney's Mull Of Kintyre. Their album, titled after the song, reached a lofty No.10 in the charts. However, even if Briggus are still (and they are, quite rightly) receiving nice sums of money in royalties, the effect it had on me at the time left a bitter taste in my mouth. Why? I was OTT in my enthusiasm for banding at the time and everytime I was seen at school carrying my case, all I would get was schoolkids whistling or singing the Floral Dance to me, asking me to play it (which I didn't). It was an embarrassment to say the least. Bands probably have no choice but to play it because of it's populatity and association. I cringed even more when Terry Wogan released his version. The memory flooded back once again. It would have been interesting if Faireys succeeded in getting one of the Acid Brass numbers in the charts. :shock:
  9. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    First of all. a personal reaction to the Floral Dance: I've got no real objection to it as music per se, although I don't particularly care for the Broadbent arrangement - we used to play a much more effective one way back in the school orchestra, that attempted to mirror the instrumentation referred to in the lyrics.

    As to "crowd-pleasers" in general, I believe there is a place for them, as it is good for audiences to be able to let their hair down and enter into things, be it with "Floral Dance", "Radetzsky", "Stars & Stripes" or whatever.

    I think what is more important is the overall balance of a programme, so that any such items are included alongside more substantial fare, whether that is original works, transcriptions from the classics or whatever. As I've said previously, the majority of my recent playing has been within the SA (and no, I've not encountered an SA band playing Floral Dance, although it could be that something like Lightwalk has been used in a similar way as a familiar encore that the audience will know).

    Due to the nature of SA banding, and also in part the restrictions placed on bands in the past, I suspect that the average programme by an SA band has tended to include more serious and original pieces. Indeed some works that are quite advanced musically have been performed for many years, possibly made slightly more accessible due to their often programmatic content, and the inclusion of melodies that may be familiar to the listeners. Also, I am convinced that an audience will be receptive to new pieces if they are surrounded by more familiar fare - think of a chinese or indian buffet, may you may be quite happy to try a new dish because you know you will enjoy the rest of the meal, and may find that you like the new taste after all.

    Also, far from dumping old items because they are old, it could be argued that it is good to pull them out once in a while to ring the changes - when YBS played "Samum" on the Open Gala Concert it was very well received, although it was new for some and others had probably not heard it for many years.
  10. Kayleigh

    Kayleigh Member

    We play it with our Youth Band, Have done for the last few years, however we do liven it up a bit by adding stand ups, sit downs! Looks good and, the audience love it. If your a cornish band the audience love it!
  11. fitzy

    fitzy Active Member

    We do it occasionally. Usually as an encore. Always gets a good reception.
  12. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    Pardon? Speak up Tim, I can't hear you.

    I should have clarified in my first post that I was referring specifically to the brass band arrangement, which I feel is very much of its time, not the actual music itself. Having said that, I don't begrudge the success it had in 1977. If you read through everything I said in my first post, I referred to brass bands hitting on something that brings them to the public eye (no bad thing) but then 'flogging it to death', particularly with what I perceive (personal view, Tim) to be a cheesy arrangement, as I said, very much of its time, (before anyone hits me with 'Ah but Beethoven Symphonies are still played to this day' etc. - not that I have Derek Broadbent's arranging skills. I'm not knocking him)
  13. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    Firstly, though based on a hymn, Light Walk has been 'arranged' in what I believe to be an a more inventive style. Secondly, I feel it's considerably more demanding to pull off, technically and interpretation wise, given the its style and for me, more rewarding (even though I attempted to play the flugel solo from memory at the SCABA entertainment contest in Crawley and well.... it didn't quite go according to plan but the adjudicator was somewhat forgiving! :))
  14. IYOUNG

    IYOUNG Member

    MD's putting together a programme for a concert need to think carefully about what the concert is trying to acheive, who it is aimed at and adapt the music accordingly.

    Whether the Floral Dance or anything else the MD deems to be cheesy (the peice or the arrangement) is to be included is entirely a personal choice.

    I personally don't include it because I have found other peices of equal cheese that do a similar job. But for example if someone specifically requested it of course I would as the whole idea of a concert is too entertain your audience. If you don't they will find something else to do next time.......I always find it strange that some quarters can't see this.

    A recent concert I attended was conducted by Richard Evans and he went to great lengths to explain at the start that the two brilliant bands on stage weren't there to educate you but to entertain you. The evning was light entertainment and thoroughly enjoyable (that from someone who also likes to listen to 20 test peices a day)

    There's nother better in my view of playing something the audience loves and getting a great reaction. B&R play the Floral Dance at nearly all their concerts, they put a great show with it everytime because the audience enjoys it. End of story............


    TIMBONE Active Member

    :) Dave, I appreciate your provocative topics.
  16. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    I've been trying to find Briggus's follow-up single to The Floral Dance, The Lincolnshire Poacher. I'm sure it was written by Derek Broadbent and was arranged virtually in the same mould as the former. Anyone clarify and confirm?
  17. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    :) Oops a daisy, I do tend to forget to include smileys at awkward moments! No offence intended! Must be that cold Scottish air getting to me! :)
  18. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    I was under the impression that Lincolnshire Poacher was a traditional tune (unlike the Floral Dance, which was composed - or perhaps collected - by Katie Moss) arranged by Derek Broadbent. As for the single, I don't know whether that's still around but I believe (perhaps someone could confirm) that it's included on a 4 CD re-release set entitled Best of Brass. (It could be argued that if my informnation is correct, then I really am a closet 'Floral Dancer' after all! :))
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2004
  19. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    Oh ma gawd! I found Lincolnshire Poacher on a Castle compilation (Festival Of Brass) disc given to me (and never played). Broadbent swings!!! Apart from that, :shock: !!!!
  20. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    ... you'll be erecting a Maypole next in Arran!! :)