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Thread: Regionals 2008: Championship Section Test Piece: Festival Music

  1. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by MoominDave View Post
    Number one being that he died 25 years before valved brass instruments were invented
    Yes, I was being ironic and yes that is the main one. And if they had been invented I really don't think he would have written that style of music would he...? Actually, that would be a good subject for a dissertation (I'm being sarcastic now).
    Last edited by nhrg; 04.10.2007 at 12:44.

  2. #17
    tMP Posting Freak!!! MoominDave's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nhrg View Post
    And if they had been invented I really don't think he would have written that style of music would he...?
    I'm not quite sure what you mean by that (and my understanding is hampered by not knowing FM yet).

    Help me out - what about the piece makes it violin writing rather than cornet writing?
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    Quote Originally Posted by nhrg View Post
    There are a few obvious reasons why Mozart didn't write for brass band.
    Which are? (apart from the obvious "they weren't around")

    Actually Mozart enjoyed both "popular" music and writing for new instruments - he was a pioneer of writing for the (then relatively new) clarinet and piano, he included trombones in the Requiem and bassethorns in Figaro.

    Plus the second movement is a big nod in the direction of Handel and the baroque - I'm sure Handel would have been tempted to write for a brass band, at least in his ceremonial works.

    Quote Originally Posted by nhrg View Post
    Arrangements make us look inferior to the orchestral movement.
    Who says? There is a long and honourable tradition of orchestral transcriptions, and arguably the transcription forms an important part of brass band history. Plus some of them are extremely accomplished and make excellent tests. Every now and again, say every 5 years, why not?

    Quote Originally Posted by nhrg View Post
    - Every so often a piece should be commissioned from a composer who doesn't usually write for brass bands, this will add new, fresh, interesting ideas into the brass band world and keep it alive.
    Absolutely - Kapitol should be trying to get a brass band piece from Ades, or Macmillan.

    But as a classic original work, Festival Music is one of the best "golden oldie" choices - it's certainly one of Ball's best works. I'd agree, however, that bands who only 2 years ago needed 4 talented percussionists for Journey to the Centre of the Earth will now struggle to amuse them in rehearsal. Maybe they can all sign on with 3rd section bands, who will probably need three each to get through Dark Side of the Moon?
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  4. #19
    tMP Senior Friend ROBTHEDOG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nhrg View Post
    There are a few obvious reasons why Mozart didn't write for brass band. This piece only emphasises this point. I play the cornet not the chuffing violin. It's a nice conceit and an interesting piece to play but really shouldn't be picked for a contest this side of the millenium.
    The flagship test piece should be written by a contemporary composer. I really feel for percussion sections here as there is NOTHING for them, what kind of test is that?
    Here's my criteria for test piece selection for Regionals.

    - a contemporary piece. This should prove we are forwarded thinking, not wallowing in our past.
    - NEVER an arrangement. Rienzi was a reasonally good arrangement but picking it showed a total lack respect for brass band composers. We want these pieces to be flagship pieces showing off how good our bands AND our composers are. Arrangements make us look inferior to the orchestral movement.
    - Eric Ball is awesome but he never wrote decent percussion parts (for good reason). A test piece should challenge ALL areas of the band.
    - Every so often a piece should be commissioned from a composer who doesn't usually write for brass bands, this will add new, fresh, interesting ideas into the brass band world and keep it alive.
    Great comments totally agree .. No wonder Brass bands are folding... However I too rate Eric Ball music but I've played Eric ball at contest 4 times in 4 years with Derwent... and now again next area..

    Re transcriptions, it's a difficult one as there have been some 'good ones' (not sure about Rienze, it sure was a blow !)

    Oh for some contemporary music. My current favourite Brass Band major work is Extreme Makeover ... WOW ---- but there's plenty out there or even commissions.. I think the 'push back' on Prague (I loved that too) a few years ago caused concern and subsequently back to comfort zone...

    I'm sure the Eric Ball will be a good tough test and the top bands will come to the top. I'm sure the 'tune' brigade will enjoy it - but our 4 YOUNG percussionists will be taking a holiday.. It will be interesting to see if bands choose Festival Music as own choice in events such as Brass at Guide (Preston)
    Rob
    Better to B# than out of tune !
    "Loving it in Derbyshire"
    Derwent Brass..

  5. #20
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    Prague

    Yeh, I really liked playing Prague. It's such a shame about the reaction to that because the message that may have been sent back to the music establishment was probably that brass bands were too traditional and couldn't cope with life in the contemporary music world. Sadly this will have just reinforced the stereotypes of some at the BBC and other arts bodies that we're a dying 'heritage' movement when we are not (are we?). Wouldn't it be great if the likes of Jocelyn Pook or Thomas Ades were commissioned to write our Regional piece?

    "New music or die"

  6. #21
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    I am a firm believer in brass bands constantly moving forward, and I agree that we should really embrace contemporary composers (I particularly agree in inviting composers from other musical arenas).

    But, this has to be balanced with musical heritage.

    It would be a complete disaster if orchestras decided just to play totally contemporary music and didn't balance this with bringing out Beethoven, Mozart etc. on a regular basis (are we including Mahler and Stravinsky as heritage? we really should as music constantly moves on – should a piece be played once and never again? I realise this is the bizarre extreme, but where does the ‘contemporary’ music definition end?)

    There was a lot of rubbish written in Mozart's time but this doesn't get played. Mozart does as it remains some of the finest music ever written, and is still an inspiration to musicians today. So Mozart gets played much more than many other composers of his day.

    I'm not saying that Eric Ball is quite in Mozart’s league, but he was a shining example of how to write melodic music for the Brass Band. Rhythm and effect are all wonderful things, music has to progress, our tastes and preconceptions must constantly be challenged, but when music is this good, it doesn't matter when it was written, it should remain within our contest programming.

    (And I'm afraid the argument that there isn't much for percussion doesn't hack it. Shall we specify to all new contest composers that each part has to have the same amount of work to do, the same technical content etc? This is music, not a car factory. Contests are about progressing musically, not about ticking boxes, or measuring criteria)

  7. #22
    tMP Master Friend brassintheed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nhrg View Post
    Yeh, I really liked playing Prague. It's such a shame about the reaction to that because the message that may have been sent back to the music establishment was probably that brass bands were too traditional and couldn't cope with life in the contemporary music world. Sadly this will have just reinforced the stereotypes of some at the BBC and other arts bodies that we're a dying 'heritage' movement when we are not (are we?). Wouldn't it be great if the likes of Jocelyn Pook or Thomas Ades were commissioned to write our Regional piece?
    I do however, completely agree with this post.
    Last edited by PeterBale; 05.10.2007 at 23:53.

  8. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by brassintheed View Post
    This is music, not a car factory. Contests are about progressing musically, not about ticking boxes, or measuring criteria)
    .... and that's the rub.

    Contest pieces really are all about ticking the "right" boxes and maybe because of this we are in danger of stagnating musically.

    When did you last listen to an orchestral piece and make a judgement on its' musical merit based on whether there was a hard enough.......( insert name of instrument here)..... solo or plenty of opportunity for the strings to scurry about a lot ?

  9. #24
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    Balance in all things

    Quote Originally Posted by brassintheed View Post
    I am a firm believer in brass bands constantly moving forward, and I agree that we should really embrace contemporary composers (I particularly agree in inviting composers from other musical arenas).
    Quote Originally Posted by brassintheed View Post

    But, this has to be balanced with musical heritage.

    It would be a complete disaster if orchestras decided just to play totally contemporary music and didn't balance this with bringing out Beethoven, Mozart etc. on a regular basis (are we including Mahler and Stravinsky as heritage? we really should as music constantly moves on – should a piece be played once and never again? I realise this is the bizarre extreme, but where does the ‘contemporary’ music definition end?)

    There was a lot of rubbish written in Mozart's time but this doesn't get played. Mozart does as it remains some of the finest music ever written, and is still an inspiration to musicians today. So Mozart gets played much more than many other composers of his day.

    I'm not saying that Eric Ball is quite in Mozart’s league, but he was a shining example of how to write melodic music for the Brass Band. Rhythm and effect are all wonderful things, music has to progress, our tastes and preconceptions must constantly be challenged, but when music is this good, it doesn't matter when it was written, it should remain within our contest programming.

    (And I'm afraid the argument that there isn't much for percussion doesn't hack it. Shall we specify to all new contest composers that each part has to have the same amount of work to do, the same technical content etc? This is music, not a car factory. Contests are about progressing musically, not about ticking boxes, or measuring criteria)


    I agree there should be balance. Wholeheartedly. The Nationals and the Regionals are the flagship contests, there are plenty of opportunities in the banding year to play Eric Ball et al in concerts and other contests. Adopting this criteria would send an important message, continue to generate new music and should really challenge conductors, players and the movement.

    As for arrangements, the day I go to a jazz gig or a classical concert and hear them play an arrangement from a brass band piece is the day I will advocate picking pieces like Rienzi for our top contests.

    How to define what classes as contemporary is an interesting debate.

    Contemporary music is more likely (looking at the evidence) to have testing parts for all areas of the band including percussioninsts.

  10. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sandy Smith View Post
    .... and that's the rub.

    Contest pieces really are all about ticking the "right" boxes and maybe because of this we are in danger of stagnating musically.

    When did you last listen to an orchestral piece and make a judgement on its' musical merit based on whether there was a hard enough.......( insert name of instrument here)..... solo or plenty of opportunity for the strings to scurry about a lot ?
    You're completely right. I probably should have said:

    "This is music, not a car factory. Contests should be about progressing musically, not about ticking boxes, or measuring criteria"

  11. #26
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    Quality

    Quote Originally Posted by brassintheed View Post
    You're completely right. I probably should have said:

    "This is music, not a car factory. Contests should be about progressing musically, not about ticking boxes, or measuring criteria"
    Good point. I think the best test pieces are the ones that have musical integrity AND still manage to test all players in the band, that's what makes brass band contesting unique.

  12. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by nhrg View Post

    I agree there should be balance. Wholeheartedly. The Nationals and the Regionals are the flagship contests, there are plenty of opportunities in the banding year to play Eric Ball et al in concerts and other contests. Adopting this criteria would send an important message, continue to generate new music and should really challenge conductors, players and the movement.

    As for arrangements, the day I go to a jazz gig or a classical concert and hear them play an arrangement from a brass band piece is the day I will advocate picking pieces like Rienzi for our top contests.

    How to define what classes as contemporary is an interesting debate.

    Contemporary music is more likely (looking at the evidence) to have testing parts for all areas of the band including percussioninsts.
    Admittedly it doesn't happen very often, however

    http://www.elgar.org/3severn.htm

  13. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bayerd View Post
    Admittedly it doesn't happen very often, however

    http://www.elgar.org/3severn.htm
    Good one. Should be a new thread really...I've got a recording of Malcolm Arnold's "little suite.." arranged for orchestra, it's really nice, especially the Siciliano.

  14. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by nhrg View Post

    I agree there should be balance. Wholeheartedly. The Nationals and the Regionals are the flagship contests, there are plenty of opportunities in the banding year to play Eric Ball et al in concerts and other contests. Adopting this criteria would send an important message, continue to generate new music and should really challenge conductors, players and the movement.
    I disagree about assigning Eric Ball to concerts.

    If you were to test how good an orchestra was, how would you do it? If you just asked each to play technically difficuly contemporary pieces you would be able to judge one aspect. But what about the rest? how good is an orchestra that can't play Mozart?

  15. #30
    tMP Master Friend brassintheed's Avatar
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    sorry last post should have said concerts and minor contests. too late to edit!

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