when is a brass band not a brass band?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic Chat' started by brassyboy, May 6, 2008.

  1. brassyboy

    brassyboy Member

    I wonder what views are on bands such as The Youngblood Brass Band, Hypnotic Brass, Mnozil, bellowhead and Canadian Brass?

    All of these are brass bands or are they?

    Can we learn anything from them?

    They all achieve full houses!

    Should we listen to what they have to offer?

    Should we respect and support brass playing of any type as long as it is good and would being seen to do so help our cause of promoting our own traditional brass bands?

    Answers in a plain brown bag or via this link!

    Wot U Fink?

    Many believe we are a closed shop, inward looking and fearful of change are they right?


  2. DMBabe

    DMBabe Supporting Member

    I'm not fearful of change.:roll: The only things that affects my choice of gigs is:
    1. Can I afford it?
    2. Is it miles away? (will transport/accommodation be an issue)
    3. Do I have enough notice to get the time off work? and lastly
    4. Will anyone I know go with me so I don't have to sit like a sad sack on my jack jones?

    Otherwise I'll go and see anything once.....:metal: ;)

  3. Hells Bones

    Hells Bones Active Member

    I wouldn't say they are brass bands as such. Brass Ensembles, yes (I'm not putting them down in anyway, they are all better players than me).

    But then, what constitutes a band?

    3 or more players? 4? 10?
  4. DocFox

    DocFox Retired

    Well, there has to be said something for tradition. I love some brass quintets, and many other brass groups. But tradition is strong and should be. Rules and concepts in contesting groups should be changed slowly, if at all.

    There is an excellent brass band in L.A. I listened to them. I would not buy their CD. About half the "cornet section" used trumpets. It made blending nearly an impossible task. It made me wonder why they were a traditional British Brass Band instrument except in the cornet section. Why not use french horns instead of Eb Tenor Horns?

    Now I can see using trumpets and even french horn in youth band etc. to get people involved.

    No, to be a "Brass Band" you are 30 - 33 player with cornets and Eb tenor horns and Eb tubas. Other than that, you are a band, or a brass ensemble which is fine.

    Occasionally, a non-brass band instruments get recorded with the band. Singers, bagpipes, even fanfare trumpets. To me this is OK as long as it is stated that way. Rules and tradition make things great. You can compare yourself to bands 100 years ago.

    Those in the know understand the deep harmony Eric Ball wrote or the modal type of harmonies that John Williams wrote. Or, if you are like me, are amazed by Catherall or Sparke.

    If not for rules for traditional brass bands, this tradition we would lose. Players are not joining bands in the UK. Yet in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and especially the USA, they are growing. A tradition they would like to join.

    Brass Bands are just that - a big a long standing tradition.

    Interesting fact. My little radio station (see signature) in is the top 500 of internet radio stations in the world. There are an estimated 25,000 legal stations and another 25,000 illegal stations.

    If the illegal stations get too big, they attract the attention of the authorities. So brass bands can fill houses. They fill the internet "airwaves" just fine.

    Steven Mead played with our area concert band last summer. The War Memorial Coliseum. It holds 1100. People were turned away if they didn't get there 1/2 hour early. Several hundred, according to the newspapers (Fire Marshal laws).

    You see, the band is sponsored so the concert was free. Mr. Mead stayed and signed CDs and programs. He sold out of CDs at the break!

    No, I am all for tradition - with a little spice once-in-a-awhile --- but just a little.

  5. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    I think a few things we can definitely learn from canadian brass (particular favourites of mine) are:

    1) Musicianship - five of the best brass players ever put in a room together
    2) Ensemble playing - No conductor, just lots of rehearsal and tremendous musical sensitivity.
    3) Fun - Every time they play, they look like they're having a ball and the audience picks up on that.

    Plus, there's something in a canadian brass gig for everyone. I don't particularly go a bundle on the classical pieces they play, but for me that's more than made up for by the skill they have at Jazz and Swing music.

    As an ensemble, they've got many skills a brass band could do well to develop further - in my opinion the most important of these being the ability to play almost anything to anyone and pull it off.
  6. Will the Sec

    Will the Sec Active Member

    If it sounds good, and entertains me, I don't care what it's called!
  7. WhatSharp?

    WhatSharp? Active Member

    Agreed, and I also agree with DocFox, last year I fancied doing something a bit different on the side, so I started a brass ensemble along with a few friends. We aren't pro's but we're having fun and we gave our first concert last year and our first paid engagement in a few weeks time.

    This wasn't something to do instead of brass bands it was as well as. I've been in brass bands since I was 13 and enjoy the format and the music ( well ok most of it ). If I want to do something different I will but to change the format of a brass band doesn't feel right, I think would spoil it.

    Re : Brass ensembles such as Canadian Brass, PJBE, London Brass, Fine Arts, Mnozil (sp? ) and the latest one I stumbled on GOMALAN ( look them up on you tube! suberb ) they all have something to off. But as has been said they do all look like their having fun!
  8. HaleStorm

    HaleStorm Member

    Its a band...and they use brass instruments....but i wouldn't say it was a "brass band" rather i would say it was leaning towards jazz/swing and a slight influence of Ska.
    I think its pretty awesome that they can play so well together without the normal things you would expect, such as a conductor, music and such like.
    But i would sit and listen to this, and it seems like good car music :) and it has the major benefit of being happy and lively, which is pretty much transferance of the bands personality across to the listener....and we do need more happy music :D:D:D
  9. Roscoff

    Roscoff New Member

    I must say that having played in a ten piece and a Bavarian Band that were basically a fund raisers for brass bands it's five times more fun and twenty times more appreciated by the general public. Forget tradition, small groups playing music people enjoy is the future. Brass banding will eventually become extinct. It'll go first at 4th section level and work its way up. The term brass band should be removed as quickly as possible. It conjurs up pictures of old men with whippets.
    Last edited: May 8, 2008
  10. Roscoff

    Roscoff New Member

    Having played in two small brass groups I would not call them brass bands. Infact I would go as far and say using the term brass band is not a good idea at all. Brass ensemble, quintet anything but that rather out dated term. For the general public it conjures up pictures of old men and whippets.
    These groups are the future in my opinion. Brass bands will die out eventually and hopefully there'll be enough good players to make up brass ensembles that can go out and play the music people want to hear. Not 'Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines' for the millionth time. Harsh maybe but take brass banding out of Yorkshire, Lancashire and South Wales and you're left with not a lot.
  11. DocFox

    DocFox Retired

    That is the most negative post I think I have read. Old men with whippets?

    First, many bands have women -- and young ones.
    Second, it is a tradition
    Third, if you can play "Daring Young Men and their Flying Machines" you are pretty good.


    Brass Banding, like drum corps in the US are dying a bit. In the 1960s there were thousands of drum corps. Now we are reduced to about 100. But they play to full houses. Competitive marching bands reduced drum corps with help from the electronic age.

    A friend of mine is a music teacher. Jobs are hard to find with the population declining in our area. He marched with the drum corps "The Cavaliers" for three years. That is the equivalent of playing with Black Dyke or perhaps even the London Symphony.

    He got a job in moments.

    Things change. But old men and whippets? I am sure this post will get pulled for stating the hard truth. Perhaps you need a drug test. (Unless you are talking about dogs and not what is listed here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whippit#Recreational_use

  12. Roscoff

    Roscoff New Member

    Well done the drum corps and obviously there are brass bands that play to packed houses which is great. But the movement needs to modernise. You are talking specifics. The man/woman in the street will hate a lot of the music brass bands play. If it was a thriving genre then who cares. But its not. The 4th section down here is dying on its backside. That will go and slowly and surely it'll work its way up. Negative or realistic?
  13. DocFox

    DocFox Retired

    Change. The way you spun it it was very negative. You didn't answer the question about wippets I noticed.

    At one time Major League Baseball has Class D, C, B, A, AA, AAA and then the majors. Today it has only A, AA, AAA and Majors. Is it dying? Hardly. People with little baseball skill are finding other things to do.

    We live in a different world. But you made a very negative connotation of brass bands in general. Post #8 for you and you have played in "too many bands to mention".

    Why are you here? To blast brass banding? This board is filled with thousands of players and fans. It must be dying. :confused:

    Change sometimes is neither band nor good. Maybe the 4th and 3rd section merges. Who knows. But "old men with whippets" was pretty negative.

  14. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    A friend of mine conducts in a fourth section that has 20 bands in it.

    Just because it's not doing well in one region doesn't mean it's going to die out.

    Time was, there were a number of amateur orchestras of a good standard you could go out and listen to every week, usually within walking distance. Now there aren't. Has that made classical music any less popular? No, of course not.

    Yes, brass bands do not pull in the audiences that they used to. That much is obvious. But the famous bands can fill a hall with the best of them which suggests that the top of the movement is as healthy as ever. And whit friday alone shows that brass music still has a place in today's entertainment business.

    People may not have the time to put in to practice any more, benefactors may not set up bands for the good of their workers/the community etc any more, and schools are certainly not given the funding they need to start children playing at a young age - which explains the downturn in band membership seen all over the UK.

    But I would argue that suggesting brass banding will 'die' simply because the fourth section in wales is a bit thin might be going... just a wee bit too far.

    Anyway - before a mod says it - topic!
  15. Roscoff

    Roscoff New Member

    <P>I've no problem replying to the old men with whippets quote. You know there are young people in brass bands. I know. But the general public don't. Try re-reading what I said. </P>
    <P>Your average Joe out there has a one eyed view of brass banding because it has not promoted outside its own genre and is becoming ever smaller. It is still in the eyes of the vast majority a&nbsp;pastime&nbsp;for working class northeners just up from the non-existent pit who keeps pigeons and whippets.&nbsp;This is not helped&nbsp;I'm afraid to say,&nbsp;by sometimes&nbsp;the standard of music played, often the&nbsp;type of music played, sometimes both. It turns people away so they don't want to know more about brass bands.&nbsp;Too often&nbsp;what is produced&nbsp;only&nbsp;appeals to a&nbsp;minority. </P>
    <P>Look at the average age of audiences. Its not the young who pay, its vastly left to much older generations.&nbsp;</P>
    <P>Try selling a ticket to a member of the public with the promise that you're going to hear the same piece of music 22 times.</P>
  16. DocFox

    DocFox Retired



    And we can prove it many, many ways. Midland CD makes money selling CDs. KMJ makes money recording CDs, my radio station does well, etc.

    Being a Yankee, this I cannot comment on except it makes sense


    Well, outside of the definition of a whippet, we are on topic I do believe.

    Things change -- but tradition is important. One of my favorite pieces was recorded by the 3rd Section Band. I have received CDs from non-competing bands and many 4th section bands that were terrific.

    They may not sell as many as Black Dyke. But they are fine and dedicated musicians playing in a genre that has perhaps the largest following in the world beyond the made up new crappy kiddie stuff.

    Even small towns have a symphony orchestra. I know, I was the MD of one for years.

    Yes change is coming. What is need from my point of view, is some new compositions. Philip Sparke and his contemporaries help.

    In 1890 you couldn't sit and watch a rugby, or football match on TV. Playing in a band was important. Still several HUNDRED bands in the UK competing. Add all the competing bands in the world and it would be a fraction of the UK.

    They are growing into a tradition. If it is "Old Men and Whippets" then leave it behind. I heard an a cappella group that brought the house down with 12 singers. They were not a Barbershop group - but they at times sang barbershop style. They were not a church choir, yet they sang hymns beautifully. They were not a new age group, but sang in a style I have never heard before.

    Go there, do that. Let the Brass Band tradition live on and thrive. Bashing it does not help.

  17. DocFox

    DocFox Retired

    Well, if THAT is the problem, change the music. :roll: :roll:
  18. Roscoff

    Roscoff New Member

    I notice nobody has commented on the average age of the audience? And whilst you are correct that there are more brass bands in the UK than anywhere else that does not mean the quality is there and giving the example of a couple of CD's doesn't either. None of you look at the bigger picture because you're only talking about things that we know about.
    And do you think a none brass bander would buy those CD's even in the bargain bin in Tesco's? No.
    I will go with the writers bit though. I agree. But no-one is writing stuff that will get anywhere near the classical standards of music. People want to hear beautiful melodies, not whack down something and make it as hard as possible. Test pieces are archaic and should be consigned to history unless they change their focus. Take classic FM. It's a whole station dedicated to classical music. Brass bands have an hour a week on Radio 2.
  19. Roscoff

    Roscoff New Member

    Try telling that to the organisers of the National Brass Band Championships then.
  20. WhatSharp?

    WhatSharp? Active Member

    Blimey talk about a rambling topic :D

    regarding the downturn in bands. I have a theory that this is a more general issue regarding the state of performance music within schools ( and it's lack of ). Yes there are a number of schools which do have a good thriving music department, however sadly there are many that don't. My Son goes to a ( supposedly ) "Arts" school, but there are no bands, choirs, orchestras. Just a couple of "rock" groups. His local music service music school which he goes to on a Saturday morning have no trumpets in their junior wind section.

    This kind of points to a general downturn in kids learning music ( and in this case brass ). I remember when I was at school nearly every school had a choir two schools had brass bands ( one of which I was lucky enough to be in ) and a lot schools has wind ensembles, orchestras etc. This seems to have all changed now for lots of different reasons ( funding, attitude, etc )

    I think Brass bands are simply feeling the pinch more than most as players tend to stay with one band rather spreading themselves around as they can do in wind bands and orchestras. Perhaps this is an sympton of "registration" for contesting. To say "Brass bands are dying" is a very generalised statement. I think music itself is suffering and we are getting hit possibly harder than most, especially in the lower sections where traditionally the youngsters have "cut their teeth" so to speak.

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