What defines a contest march?

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by ratpit, Apr 4, 2009.

  1. ratpit

    ratpit Member

    Is there a definition of a contest march that can be used at whit friday or Easingwold

    I've got a young band who would love the experience but are not up to a difficult march

    Any thoughts?
  2. Bayerd

    Bayerd Active Member

    For those competitions, you'll be alright playing the likes of True and Trusty on the stand.
  3. ratpit

    ratpit Member

    cool but is there a definition of a contest march
  4. ian perks

    ian perks Active Member

  5. ratpit

    ratpit Member

    I'm familiar with all these tunes but when does a street march become a contest march?
  6. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    Short answer is, there isn't a strict definition at all. My rough rule of thumb is that if it's too hard to play while walking then it's a contest march!

    We did The Black Knight at Whit Friday last year, which arguably isn't a "contest" march in the sense of being as hard as ORB or Ravenswood but we had no comments about it, and got best 4th section band at Freizland.

    If you want to be competing with the big boys for the top prizes then you naturally have to play a difficult march very, very well. If you just want to go for the experience I see no reason why you shouldn't pick any street march - far better to play an easier march well than flog your whatsits off on a march that's beyond the players' capabilities. The only rule as far as I know is that whatever you play must be a published march, so no using scraggy bits of manuscript or playing something your 2nd trombone has written for the occasion.
  7. themusicalrentboy

    themusicalrentboy Active Member

    listen to something like Ravenswood or Knight's Templar for a good example of contest marches I'd say
  8. Straightmute

    Straightmute Active Member

    Contest march :

    • should be originally composed for brass band, ie not by Sousa, Alford, Elgar etc.,
    • will normally say 'contest march' in the top left corner,
    • will have more semiquavers in the solo cornet part than a 'quick march' ie street march,
    • will usually (but not always) feature a 'bass solo' section,
    • will usually (but not always) modulate to the dominant/relative major in the trio
    • will nearly always require you to DC
    Hope this is helpful Mr Ratpit. If in doubt, ask your relative major.

  9. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    Ysee, herein lies the problem, and this is a pretty big can of worms.

    Mr Lancaster (straightmute) lays down some pretty good criteria - however there are problems.

    David, my notes are not intended as a criticism of your criteria, merely pointing out problems which I shall elaborate on the reason for at the end.

    - which is fair enough even though some sousa marches are easily hard enough to feature as contest marches they're usually not treated as such because they're really military or wind band marches.
    The word "Normally" is important here. At co-op, our copy of Ravenswood merely said "March" and our copies of both The Wizard and O.R.B. didn't even have that.
    there'll most likely be more in most other parts too.
    For example, neither the Australasian, nor The President have a proper bass solo.
    Assuming of course that it has a trio worthy of the name - which once again, not all contest marches do. Even where they do it's not always marked as such.
    Once again this is generally the case - although some marches, such as Honest Toil, and Mephistopheles do not have a DC marked. This has led to the abominable practice of putting one in regardless and then either finishing in the middle of the march in a deeply unsatisfactory manner, or playing the whole darn thing twice.

    I might also add that they're generally scored in 2:4 - although Mephistopheles puts a hole neatly in that statement too. And I have heard some bands playing cross of honour on the stand, which is in 6:8 throughout and - although not often treated as a contest march - has plenty in it for a contest judge to listen to.

    I've also heard the like of "La Russe" used as a contest march. Now it's an original brass band work, has impeccable pedigree, (William Rimmer's name at the top) contains a bass solo and I even think it may contain a DC - but it doesn't say "Contest March" at the top, so has cause a furore in the past. Some copies even say "Concert march" though not all.

    When bands can be disqualified from contests or deducted points (as has happened at at least two contests I've played at) for not playing a contest march, then surely a proper list needs laying down.
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2009
  10. Straightmute

    Straightmute Active Member

    Thanks Andi - that's why I filled my answer with 'should', 'normally' and 'usually' - there are no hard and fast rules.

    We may have to agree to differ about DCs though: even if one is not indicated the composer would surely have understood that a DC would (normally) be made as a matter of convention. Marches follow 'minuet and trio' form (which is why the trio of a march is called a trio!) and in classical minuets the trio is balanced by a return of the minuet. To finish most marches at the bottom of the page would mean that you were finishing in the wrong key and that the tension created by modulation to the dominant would remain unresolved!

    I wasn't really trying to define what a contest march is, just trying to help Mr Ratpit understand why they can't/shouldn't play Liberty Bell! Although I suspect the good folks at Easingwold would look very sympathetically on a school band making its debut and probably wouldn't mind what they played so long as it has two beats to the bar.
  11. And CERTAINLY not from the repiano player...! :p
  12. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    Generally I agree with you. You cetainly couldn't finish (for example) Knight templar at the bottom, as the last 16 bars would not make for a decent finish at all and it clearly makes musical sense to DC.

    However there's nowhere in Mephistopheles you can possible finish and it make musical sense, except at the end. Some bands finish just before the 2:4 in the relative major, but this has such a penultimate sound it makes a mess of the piece. So if you DC, you have to play it all twice or the 'ending' sounds rubbish. Honest toil is very much the same, which is why I don't think either of them have it marked.

    Generally I'd assume the composer in each case knew what he was doing - but as I recall, a fair number of the whit friday contests specify the march should be played with a DC whether there's one there or not. This may be why playing Mephi on the stand normally takes twice as long as most other marches!!

    Particularly as the recent method appears to be to play all repeats BOTH times, which seems a bit unecessary to me. Surely no repeats second time has been fine for over 100 years, so why change it now?
  13. flugtastic

    flugtastic Member

    From when I used to play in a Youth band the two contest marches that i remember playin most would be the BB and CF and March Star Lake. I remember playing both of these on the stand and playing something "fun and light hearted" to March up to.
  14. Dave Euph

    Dave Euph Member

    I think Dave and Andi both have some good points, but at the end of the day, unless there are some prescribed criteria, it shouldn't really matter? Obviously, depending of the standard of the section, it would be expected that you would play music of a certain standard or be penalised (and in this case, perhaps lists of suggested repertoire?).

    Dave makes a good point about Liberty Bell, but if a band in a lower section comes along, plays it brilliantly and better than any other band, then why shouldn't they win?

    And what about this published repertoire? I would quite to see a few new marches join this list of "100-year old classics" (which are brilliant pieces regardless), and I've come across a few superb new marches that would suit Whit Friday brilliantly. But asking for them to be published is a bit harsh as this makes it much harder.
  15. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    We played a new one on the road at brighouse march contest last year, (For anyone interested to hear it, click on the link to emusic-online in my signature and search for "Bethel Street.") and even won best band on the march on it...

    So if it can be done with road marches, like Dave says, I wouldn't mind hearing a few new contest marches either.

    However it might be easier for folk to write them if between us we could come up with a definition of what one is!!! ;)

    FATNBALD Member

    Dont ask anybody from Grange Moor :oops::oops::oops:
  17. ratpit

    ratpit Member

    So the long and short of it is that after well over 100 years of brass banding in the UK there is no distinction between a contest march and a street march! and a band can turn up to a march contest and play whatever brass band march they like. They may lose marks if the march is too easy but if that's all they can manage they can participate

    If contest marches are going to be defined then a list of marches will need to be compiled after all Straightmute the bass solo of Slaidburn has semiquavers in the 3rd cornet part so will pass on some of your points!

    Next question (joke) When does a selection become a testpiece?

    Can we do South Pacific selection at an own choice contest or does it have to be more high brow opera!

    p.s broken foot means I can't get to sleep!!!!
  18. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    That's about the shape of it, yeah. And to be honest, they're more likely to do well playing a simple march well, than playing a tough march and making a bobbins of it. After all, the adjudicator will hardly expect a fourth section band to cope with "The Wizard" will he?

    To be honest, I think it's a good thing. After all, how often do cleackheaton crotchet crunchers junior band get the opportunity to follow on Brighouse and Rastrick... and compete on equal terms? (Or as equal as it ever gets in contesting...) That's part of the beauty of a march contest.

    PS - Don't even start on the 'What is a test piece' discussion. We had a thread about that a while back, and it was even less successful in finding a definition than this one has been!

    AEHOWGATE Member

    the T J Powell marches are a little easire than tha Rimmer, Allan, Ord Hume etc marches that you hear. It may be worth trying Castell Coch or, if you have a good Principal Cornet, The Contestor. Good luck.
  20. ronnie_the_lizard

    ronnie_the_lizard Active Member

    Just to step back a bit - depends on the individual venue, but for many the only criterion is for the march to be published.

    For example, at Delph the rules (amongst others) state:

    Test piece march must be played once through with DC to Fine or Pause
    Bands may play any published march they wish

    and similarly Dobcross's rules suggest:

    to the Steward on arrival at the Assembly Point.

    and Carrbrooks:

    8. For the contest, bands should play a published March, of which an unmarked copy should be handed to the steward at the contest area.

    Easingwold contest is more vague, as the rules page doesn't actually state anything about what is to be played, although elsewhere the website mentions 'a road march' and 'a contest march' in vaguer terms.

    It's even less clear though what exactly constitutes "A Published March" when pretty much anyone can write \ print \ sell a March via the internet (i.e.self publishing) which could indeed include something your second trombone wrote for the occasion.


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