To follow or not to follow..the score that is

Discussion in 'The Adjudicators' Comments' started by ari01, Mar 7, 2005.

  1. ari01

    ari01 Active Member

    I am interested to know what people feel regarding the way bands approach "test pieces" and their interpretation.

    Over the last few weeks the debate over the Rienzi inverted turn has raged and whilst Reg Vardy won without inverting the turn I am led to believe that Midlands bands were told that they would be penalised for not inverting the turn... the score had to be adhered to.

    Then at results time it was made clear that Roy Roe had expected MDs to prove their merit through using artistic flair especially where tempo was concerned.

    In Yorkshire, a debate has been held about the use of pedal notes as in most cases these are not written. Where does this end: are conductors allowed to re write harmony or put Euphs up the octave (although pretty hard in Rienzi)

    In the Midlands the use of mutes in the baritones was also noted for the opening on at least one occasion!!!! It changed the whole sound of the ensemble.

    We no longer know what is and isn't acceptable and the penalties are incredibly severe for the bands who get it wrong. I've been tomany contests where bands have been penalised for not following the score precisely.

    Isn't it time that guidelines were issued prior to contests? I am not suggesting that bands are told exactly how to play, however it would be nice to know if the adjudicator is looking for accuracy of the markings on the score or if artistic licence can be used for tempo, volume, mutes etc...

    What do you think?
  2. DublinBass

    DublinBass Supporting Member

    I think the guidlines are in the score, and varying from the score is a greater risk than playing it as written. If you feel lucky, go for it, but don't be surprised if you're penalised.
  3. WoodenFlugel

    WoodenFlugel Moderator Staff Member

    True but I can see the reasoning behind the original post. I can think of several occasions recently where we have been penalised for playing sections of pieces at the metronome marking only too be told the music "can't flow at this speed". Another example was paying particular attention to a passage marked f due to a later ff section, only to be told that the f "lacks impact not generally loud enough".

    Sour grapes on my part? Possibly, but I know how hard our conductor works on these things and is normally pretty good at getting tempo's and dynamics right. Anyone who knows me will also testify that I'm a huge critic of my own and the bands playing and if I feel we were too fast or whatever I'll be honest and say so.

    Anyway, back to the point...I think it is time we got some pointers as to what adjudicators are looking for. It doesn't need to be to comprehensive or restrictive, just a general overview of how (s)he sees the piece.
  4. lewis

    lewis Member

    I'm sure I've said this on a previous post last year, but if adjudicators say what they want before a contest it will inevitably take a lot the musicality out the performances in my opinion. Bands will concentrate so hard on trying to please the adjudicator they will forget all about the music. All music written is open to interpretation. If you hear one orchestra play a symphony for example another orchestra will play it very differently but does that make it wrong? We're in danger, and i suppose have been, of forgetting why we play music. Is it purely to win contests or is it to enjoy the pieces that are put in front of us?
  5. zak

    zak Member

    I think that straying from the score etc is all part of contesting and has been going on for years and years!! No right and wrong answer in this arguement i think, if a band opts to take a risk then go for it but be prepared to accept any consequences as a result.
    Although i must say that i think that there should have been clear guidelines laid down and adhered to regarding the 'turn' in Rienzi. I know of 2 bands who played the conventional turn, one came 1st and one 2nd, will be interesting to see what other bands will do in other areas????

    Grimey band
    :clap: :clap: :clap:
  6. Craigsav83

    Craigsav83 Active Member

    I'm afraid I too dissagree with this point, music is open to interpritation from the conducter, you want to hear a variation in the performances a contest would be rather boring (and difficult to judge) if all the bands played similar styles and tempi - HOWEVER, I believe that for major contests (I've said this before) there must be 2/3 adjudicators - this ensures that the most musical performences feature.
  7. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    .... I may as well add my tuppence worth regarding the use of the turn! The original manuscript of Rienzi was apparently given to Adolph Hitler as a gift and was never recovered. The whole opera had to be re-assembled from original lithograph copies and memories of how it was performed. However, I support the use of the turn starting from below because it has been the accepted way of executing it in orchestral use! Whether or not a recently found bit of manuscript showing that Wagner toyed with the turn starting from above, it was still only an idea, a draft and still only a possibility to use it in that way. It does not prove outrightly that it was the original method of playing that turn. Okay, so now, it is open to interpretation .... why has it taken from it's first performance in 1842 until now to question it's validity? If the turn was open to question over it's history, surely there would be performances and recordings with it starting from above? I have never heard one recording of the overture played by an orchestra, wind band and of course, not forgetting the Canadian Brass' abridged version playing it the conventional way. Did any bands in the 1963 Areas playing Haydn John's arrangement play it the other way round as a point of interpretation?

    If Howard Lorriman wrote out the turn fully (as in my avatar), would MDs take licence with it? I have provided a link below to the most common score found in music shops for the overture to view what is the accepted method of playing the turn. (The sample gives enough information regarding the weighting of octaves at the start as well!).

    ... go on ... hit me for six! :hammer
  8. JR

    JR Member

    well done for raising this again!
    It was me who first raised the "part-swapping" and "mute-abuse" issues at the ABBA AGM a couple of years ago - despite my lengthy presentation (entitled Professional Foul...) and promise of support prior to the meeting, I received absolutely no takers whatsoever - in other words carry on as you are - anything goes!
    I'm also against blatant pedalling that is not on the score (or in Rienzi's case, Wagner's original) but have yet to come across an adjudicator who has actively penalised it. I wonder if some bands do it merely to signal their superiority, some sort of macho gesture.
    Regarding the Rienzi turns played "conventionally" - I do not believe these risks would have been taken had the bands needed to qualify - pre-qualified bands should not have to go to the Area (perhaps reducing the pre-qualifiers to one would solve this)
    The results of the Fedarations's survey re judges specifying criteria prior to contests were very interesting - I think many respondents were in favour. I would have been happy to specify mine prior to the Yorks second section - perhaps it would have stopped some of the over-blowing!

    John Roberts
  9. DublinBass

    DublinBass Supporting Member

    Good point...I know in Rienzi, the Allegro sections could go a couple of clicks faster....and most will agree it just sounds better that way. Perhaps the trick is that Lorriman should have made his own metronome markings instead of (and I'm not sure this is factual), just taking his from the original score. Maybe any liberties that should be taken should be written into the parts by the composers?

    I think, though, with todays music software, any piece written in the past few years (if the composer has done their job properly) has all the markings exactly the way they want it because you can listen to the piece first.
  10. trumpetmike

    trumpetmike Active Member

    How far do you want to take this?

    If you are playing an arrangement, how far do you want to take the influences from the original or are you trying to re-imagine how the composer would have written it, had he written it for the forces you are working with. Would he have written extra peddaling? Would he have played certain passages with mutes?

    If a composer states a certain tempo (and some are very precise about their metronome markings), should you be penalise for deviating even slightly from what is written?
    At what point does it become just a technical exercise of playing what is on the page, as opposed to producing a piece of music?

    When I am teaching, I teach my students two ways of playing - there is how you play for an exam - playing exactly what is on the page - every dynamic strictly adhered to, the tempo shouldn't fluctuate etc. Then I teach them how to play the piece if you are performing for a recital. This is where, I feel, you are allowed to be more expressive. If you feel a certain passage should be taken at a livelier tempo, or more steadily, you are able to do just that. Musicality becomes more important.
    Contests are very similar - you are playing for an adjudicator, not for an audience. You are playing for someone who has a copy of the score and knows how the piece should sound (in general).
    If you deviate too far from this (which I consider gratuitous pedalling to be) then you should expect to be penalised. If you want to do that sort of thing in a concert, feel free, but in a contest you have to approach matters slightly differently.

    I have a feeling that some bands have seen that this piece is an arrangement and decided they can get away with a bit of re-arranging themselves. It is their choice, but don't be surprised if they are not the ones walking away with the great results. I assume that everyone is using the same arrangement for a reason - to get a sense of uniformity over the country, as one would get if everyone were using the same original composition. If a band wants to do their own arrangement after the contest (putting in extra pedalling, complex mutage, maybe extra upper octaves (haha)) then that will be their own choice.

    Pedalling where it isn't written has been part of the "macho" world of bass playing for many years. There are those players that consider a double pedal z to be the greatest possible note and take every chance to demonstrate the fact that they think it is musical. Trumpeters have the opposite problem - they like to take things up an octave. Just because you can (or think you can) does not mean that you should.

    As for the turns - stick the to conventional way of playing it.

    The joys of contesting - there will always be something to complain about.
  11. ari01

    ari01 Active Member

    I don't want specifics from an adjudicator simply what they will or won't let bands get away with. I too would hate to listen to twelve exact carbon copies of the same piece.

    However the contest then becomes not one of measuring a bands ability to play a set work, but more of a measure of whether the adjudicator likes one conductors interpretation over another.
  12. Neil the Bass

    Neil the Bass New Member

    follow errata or the score ?

    I listened to the adjudication for the 2nd Section at Bradford on Saturday. When Mr.J.Roberts was giving his remarks he made mention of the fact that some bands had not made use of the errata that he & others had published on various websites.

    My question is: were bands penalised for not utilising 'his' errata, and therefore for playing what was actually written in the score?

    If they were, it would seem that it is now compulsory for all bands to have an internet connection to find this information. I would have thought that the errata should come from the music publisher or from the area association - and be available to all, not just those who wish to trawl the 'net.

    So, should bands follow 'unofficial' errata (and be penalised if the errata author is the adjusicator) or follow the score ?

    Maybe I've got this all wrong.......please tell me if so. ;)
  13. Cantonian

    Cantonian Active Member

    With advances in digital recording I'm sure it would be possible to programme a computer with test piece notes, tempo markings and decibel levels for ppp to fff.
    The band who the plays all of these correctly wins.

    This would give the prize to the band who were closest to all of the above, take away the need for a subjective adjudicator..................... and kill off band contests

    IMHO, I believe that 'musicality' should be the most important thing in Brass band playing (or any other musical genre) and I suspect this is why Reg Vardy were the winners of their contest
  14. Naomi McFadyen

    Naomi McFadyen New Member

    In the words of Roy Roe, who incidentally bought up a lot of good points in his lil speech before the Midland Champ section results....

    "I like a band who takes risks"....

    He very much liked the bands who had their own interpretation of the piece and took risks...
    As for turns....... no mention at all as far as I remember...

    Different adjudicators will be wanting different things anyway... some don't wanna hear too much percussion and others wouldn't be bothered... etc etc etc...

    EDIT: Oh, with tempo by the way, Roy Roe mentioned that all the markings are cerca (sorry if spelling is wrong....)
  15. ari01

    ari01 Active Member

    I can accept everything that has and will be said here, however the next contest I go to bands could be slated from deviating from the score!!
  16. ScrapingtheBottom

    ScrapingtheBottom Active Member

    I think it that it shows how mixed up banding is. Contesting makes bands want to win, rather than go on stage and give a good performance of your musical director's interpretation of the piece. If you are happy with the way you have played and the interpretation wasn't appreciated - look at the adjudicators comments, see what you can get out of them and move on. Music isn't all about winning.
  17. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    ... that's the main reason I have tried to campaign for the adjudication panel to have a conference or discussion prior to the areas to examine what limits they can be expected to accept in terms of interpretation and stick to them, unless there is some X-Factor in a performance that elevates the piece to another level! Interesting to note that the metronome markings for Rienzi have been directly transcribed from the linked score in my earlier post. The beauty of musical performance is how phrases can be uniquely shaped to create more emotion. That with carefully chosen rubato and tempi could dramatically alter the listener's perception of the piece.
  18. ari01

    ari01 Active Member

    relegated bands may not agree
  19. ScrapingtheBottom

    ScrapingtheBottom Active Member

    The problem is when you do this you significantly diminish the only reason why anyone would go to see a test piece contest as an outsider - difference in artistic interpretation.
  20. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    Not really! I would assume that the adjudicators have enough musicianship amongst them to appreciate the fact that each performance will be a unique event. There are things I have heard in orchestral performances of Rienzi I feel uncomfortable with and discussing why I feel this way with others can only benefit me as a musician. There is too much emphasis relying on one person's opinion in the box to divert the attention of music-making to pleasing that individual. If that individual uses the opportunity to freely discuss the score with others, that can only benefit bands competing on stage. Why? The adjudication process becomes more objective in principal.

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