What do audiences like best?

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Chris Lee, Jun 19, 2011.

  1. Chris Lee

    Chris Lee Guest

    Of course a famous brass band will still draw a full house but its a fact of life that many perfectly competent lower section or non-competing bands bands (down South at least) struggle to pull in an audience that extends much beyond the band's friends and coerced relatives.
    Musical tastes and availability have of course moved on, but does some of the blame lie with us for dismissing traditional favourites in favour of technically clever or complex arrangements that miss the simple visceral appeal of a brass band in full flight. Very little (and certainly not 3 guitars and a megawatt amp) can really emulate the awe-inspiring and emotional power of a brass band, playing music that shows it at its best.
    But what's your opinion and experience? What sort of music appeals to your audiences nowdays? What specific pieces have them cheering for encores? And what leaves them cold?

    Chris Lee
    Newbie on EEflat bass
  2. jrshimmon

    jrshimmon Member

    I agree the traditional stuff always goes down well. But we do need to promote the fact that all brass bands are more than just players of Marches and Hymn tunes and perhaps the odd classical overture.

    I went to see this concert and it went down a storm in the second half as I felt in terms of entertainment there was a little of something for everyone.


    I accept this is a Salvation Army Band playing Salvation Army Music but I think all bands could learn a bit about entertaining an audience from it.
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2011
  3. Rapier

    Rapier Supporting Member

    Loved that, although how people remember it is beyond me. No music = no play, to me.
  4. Chris Lee

    Chris Lee Guest

    That's a brilliant clip JR. Thanks.
    I must say that in my limited experience SA bands have such a shared enthusiasm with their audiences that it puts things on a different level, and they really know how to put on a show. The Japanese Staff band also gave a great performance (I saw them at Staines) and played to an absolutely packed house.

    Very Best, Chris Lee
  5. simonium

    simonium Member

    I would utterly refute the assertion that "Very little (and certainly not 3 guitars and a megawatt amp) can really emulate the awe-inspiring and emotional power of a brass band, playing music that shows it at its best".

    True, a top class band playing superb music is a uniquely moving experience to but claim that contemporary music cannot rival, equal or surpass it...?

    Here's are a couple for you - Exit Music - Radiohead, Roads - Portishead, Story Of The Blues - Gary Moore.
  6. jrshimmon

    jrshimmon Member

    Yes I will agree the relationship between an Salvation Army band and the usual sort of audience they get can be different. But A lot of old ladies will regularly show up to SA band events and expect an hour and a half of the Old Rugged Cross (oh how I hate that tune......with a passion!) , Deep Harmony and How Great thou art.

    I understand Melbourne Played an outdoor concert in Sheffield while they were on tour and a lot of the Brass on the edge music featured and it got a lot of interest from people walking through the city center that weekday lunch time. A lot of the more modern SA music is based on modern worship songs rather than just traditional hymns so the tunes are not as familiar to a lot of the people in the street. So I'm sure if you played a few pop song arrangements any brass band could attract a crowd.
  7. jrshimmon

    jrshimmon Member

    The whole second half was done without music. Probably about 45 minutes long with very little talking between pieces.

    They ended on the William Tell. There is another clip of that which includes a rather novel use of a Trombone. :D
  8. Chris Lee

    Chris Lee Guest

    Yes. I thought that might come in for some stick Simon! I'm not writing off contemporary music (honest!). I just wonder how we can maybe generate that same enthusiasm in brass band audiences? I'm not simply advocating more of the same. I'm asking how do we adapt to changing musical tastes as reflected in your comments. Give you a simple example of how I feel about plugging in to your audience - If you want to play The Saints, play a good straightforward footstomping version and not some obscure arrangement. Similarly, if you want to play Big Band numbers play them as Big Band numbers and not some watered down compilation. Or maybe I'm wrong.

    Thanks for your response anyway.

    Very Best, Chris
  9. Valvespring

    Valvespring New Member

    What a lovely old 'chestnut' this is to roll round:D I often wonder if there is an inbuilt conflict of interests with contesting bands and audiences?
    Through the different sections MDs seem to choose music to with a view challenge, train and enhance the technical skills of the band ready for the next test piece. With the limited rehearsal time available, by necessity, the 'training pieces' become "concert pieces'. The question is do audiences come just to admire the skills of the band or to be entertained? At what stage does the repetoire become esoteric?
    A very delicate balancing act methinks!
  10. Chris Lee

    Chris Lee Guest

    Hi Valvespring. Sorry to roll an old chestnut - I should have guessed it has been rolled many times before. What you say is absolutely right. But I guess every band has a 'fete' folder and that's surely one place where we should look to play popular music. I was amused to attend a concert last night where after a fairly bland selection they played a rather 'clever' encore (the audience being mainly friends and family) consisting of fragments of clips from traditionally popular pieces. I wondered why they didn't just play all the popular pieces in the first place....

    Very Best, Chris Lee
  11. hobgoblin

    hobgoblin Member

    As far as 90% of "new" music goes the brass band emperor has new clothes.
  12. Chris Lee

    Chris Lee Guest

    That's a bit cryptic Hobgoblin. Do you mean its mainly just new arrangements of old stuff?

    Very Best, Chris
  13. hobgoblin

    hobgoblin Member

    Nope, just that sometimes we get a bit lost in our constant quest for new rubbish, and forget how good some of the old rubbish still sounds.:wink:
  14. Morghoven

    Morghoven Member

    In my experiences in bands and other concert-giving ensembles, as well as in my 'other life' as a church organist, my assessment would have to be that what an audience (or congregation) wants is almost always not what you've just given them, even if it's what they asked for the previous week...! :rolleyes:
  15. P_S_Price

    P_S_Price Member

    We (RCB) are quite an active SA band, but for ordinary corp bands like us, the Audience size generally depends upon the size of the corp being visited. Generally Church members wil turn up to support the event that there corps is having; but that does not mean that every piece is apperciated.

    I think that in general SA audiences are not brass afficiandos; and often the more contemporary pieces are not as well received as older pieces (A familiarity thing I think). But this is not always the case (Glorifico A. always seems to go down well wherever we are; but that might be because of the familiarity of the middle song - Somebody prayed for me).

    Its a difficult balancing act; particularly when the aim of an SA Bands performance is by the nature of their existence, a spiritual one.
  16. Chris Lee

    Chris Lee Guest

    Hi Pete. You should really have a look at the clip JRShimmon posted above (or below...). I'm not really just talking about SA bands here - I cite them because they seem to be exceptional in knowing and attracting audiences through their shared commitment. I just feel that for today's audience, having the band in formal dress sitting remotely on stage, playing jolly clever technical arrangements isn't going to pack 'em in. So how do we excite audiences? That's what I'm really asking. There's an interesting interconnect with the thread about contesting and non-contesting bands, talking about similar issues, and the tendency for competing bands to offer competition music to their concert audiences.
    Thanks for your response.
    Very Best, Chris
  17. animal.22

    animal.22 Member

    Just to add my six 'peneth here,I think that a lot of bands,as they rise through the ranks, feel that they ought to be playing more technicaly challenging pieces.Very often this seems to result in the band playing these pieces more on a "wing and a prayer" basis which only results in bad playing and nobody wants to pay good money to listen to bad playing. While there is a place for these pieces to help with the ability and the quality of the band I think it is better to play slightly easier music very well and provide a good concert so that the public goes home with good memories and passes the word to other people so increasing audiance sizes.
  18. Chris Lee

    Chris Lee Guest

    Good point you raise Animal and especially with training bands. I don't think your average audience is that sophisticated in terms of technical appreciation but they will certainly know a bum note when they hear one, and reputations are soon lost. My take is: "Don't practice in front of your audience".

    Thanks for joining in.

    Very Best, Chris
  19. eflatbass

    eflatbass Supporting Member

    Perhaps I could take this discussion back to basics. In my opinion, the general public are not attracted to band concerts, not because of the programme content, but simply because there is not sufficient interest in brass bands generally, and certainly not in anything but the very best.

    The likes of Black Dyke, Grimethorpe, Brighouse, and Cory are the exceptions, although I suspect that the majority of their audiences are drawn from the brass band community.

    Consider the following:

    Black Dyke at Huddersfield Town Hall: a sellout
    Berlin Philharmonic at the Royal Albert Hall: a sellout

    Kylie Minogue at the O2 Arena: a sellout

    In other words, it’s names that sell; not programme content. The vast majority of amateur music performers, whether we think in terms of brass bands, orchestras or vocalists, will always find it difficult to attract audiences, so don’t think it is just our bands that are suffering from lack of interest. After all, why should the public pay to listen to anything but the very best?

    My local theatre is currently promoting: 3 Mediums/Spritualists, a couple of tribute bands, a childrens’ comedy hour, and Roy Chubby Brown. Guess which one is sold out?
  20. nethers

    nethers Active Member

    A recent survey of regular audience members for Dalewool came up, with quite a majority, preferring major works over lollipops.

    Eflatbass makes a great point - the real answer to this question is: who is your audience?

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