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Thread: Help Required - Adagio for Strings (Bernaerts Version)

  1. #16
    tMP Posting Freak!!! MoominDave's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GJG View Post
    Sorry, don't agree; threads develop naturally, and should be allowed to do so. Bad enough having the mods acting as "on-topic" police, without others joining in ...
    Well yes, threads meander, but this one has been derailed from the original request from the very first reply without even looking over its shoulder for the topic. I'd be a little bit miffed if I'd started a thread asking for a simple bit of help, and that simple request disappeared under a deluge of off-topic replies.

    But, on the other hand, there's so little debate on here these days that anything is to encouraged. So in that spirit, I don't see why a band arrangement of the Barber 'Adagio' shouldn't work nicely - the point of its tonal palette is the big wide lush homogeneous sound of a string section, a natural strength that is also shared by brass bands. But on a third hand, the words 'Bernaerts Music' attached to the arrangement make me suspect the worst...
    Dave Taylor
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  2. #17
    tMP Prime Friend GJG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MoominDave View Post
    ... threads meander, but this one has been derailed from the original request from the very first reply without even looking over its shoulder for the topic.
    True, but then the only possible answer to the original question that would have any value would be "Yes, we have a set that you can borrow", and it would seem that no-one has yet read the thread who is in that enviable position. So I don't see that anything has been lost.

    Incidentally, I seem to remember that at one time there was a UK distributor for Bernaerts, possibly called Fenton music or something like that. However I can't find any trace of them on t'interweb, and the Bernaerts site doesn't list a UK distributor. And as the OP said they do appear to be closed until 6th August - possibly not the best business plan for a company supplying mostly hack arrangements of cheesy music best suited to use in Summer park jobs ...
    Gareth J. Green
    MD The Egham Band

    "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result." [Attr. Albert Einstein (1879-1955)]
    ... which, logically, must make conducting a form of insanity.

  3. #18
    tMP Prime Friend GJG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MoominDave View Post
    But, on the other hand, there's so little debate on here these days that anything is to encouraged. So in that spirit, I don't see why a band arrangement of the Barber 'Adagio' shouldn't work nicely - the point of its tonal palette is the big wide lush homogeneous sound of a string section, a natural strength that is also shared by brass bands.
    True in one sense. However the other characteristic of a string section which is extensively exploited in the Barber "Adagio" is that string players don't need to breathe - well, they do, obviously, but not in order to play. Whereas brass players generally would struggle to play the very long phrases involved in the piece, unless you somehow assembled a complete line-up of competent circular-breathers. So from a purely practical point of view I still don't think it's a particularly appropriate candidate for transcription.
    Gareth J. Green
    MD The Egham Band

    "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result." [Attr. Albert Einstein (1879-1955)]
    ... which, logically, must make conducting a form of insanity.

  4. #19
    tMP Posting Freak!!! MoominDave's Avatar
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    That doesn't seem much of an objection to an arrangement when you have as many as 25 brass players to deploy; just stagger the breathing.
    Dave Taylor
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  5. #20
    tMP Prime Friend GJG's Avatar
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    Yes, it can be done that way, and up to a point it would be an interesting technical exercise in effective dovetailing, and a test of a band's ability to execute the handovers smoothly and unobtrusively. In my experience only the very best bands would be capable of playing it in such a way that the breathing would be completely masked, and give the same effect as that of a string ensemble.

    But then it comes back to the same question. Should it be done, just because it can be done? And where does it stop? How long before someone thinks it would be a good idea to transcribe "Turangalila" for brass band ...
    Gareth J. Green
    MD The Egham Band

    "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result." [Attr. Albert Einstein (1879-1955)]
    ... which, logically, must make conducting a form of insanity.

  6. #21
    tMP Prime Friend trumpetmike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GJG View Post
    But then it comes back to the same question. Should it be done, just because it can be done? And where does it stop? How long before someone thinks it would be a good idea to transcribe "Turangalila" for brass band ...
    I heard a brass ensemble play a transcription of the Rite of Spring and it was a classic case of "just because you can, doesn't mean you should!"
    Some incredible playing, but for me it missed the whole point - even with a wide variety of timbral effects being used (instruments, mutes, even variety of vibrato) it still didn't have enough colours to portray even a small percentage of the original.

    There are a huge number of exellent transcriptions and arrangements out there, but there are also those that should be destroyed (and many more that should never be started).

    I wouldn't worry about the breathing, I imagine there is a tastefully added kit part to cover it up.

  7. #22
    tMP Friend for Life Will the Sec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GJG View Post
    Sorry, don't agree; threads develop naturally, and should be allowed to do so. Bad enough having the mods acting as "on-topic" police, without others joining in ...
    Miaow.

    I was in my band's library looking for the arrangement of Silverado and was hugely disappointed to find all the parts and the score were in the folder.
    Will Elsom

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  8. #23
    tMP Prime Friend Brian Bowen's Avatar
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    While some may feel Barberís Adagio is inappropriate for brass band, the same may be said for many other similar transcriptions. (As one who has had a few classical transcriptions published, I realize I may be guilty.) But Iím not sure the Adagio has to be harmed if played by a good brass band any more than, say, Elgarís Enigma Variations is Ė less so in fact in my opinion. Someone mentioned having to breathe but remember, Barber himself made a choral version (titled Agnus Dei) from the original string quartet version.

    However, from disparaging comments Iíve read by tMP readers about Benearts, Barberís Adagio would appear to be out of keeping with their usual fair. I checked their website and found it is available on an in-house CD by Brass Band De W‚ldsang, sandwiched incongruously in the following track listing:
    1. Mississauga Spirit 2. When You Believe 3. Music 4. Big Big World 5. Carnaval De Paris 6. My Heart Will Go On 7. Fast Fingers 8. Tina Turner: Simply The Best! 9. Adagio For Strings
    10. I Will Survive 11. I Wanna Hold You 12. Y.M.C.A. 13. I Dreamed A Dream 14. Bad Leroy Brown 15. Pop Looks Beethoven

    Therein lies the greater travesty -- tasteless programming.
    Brian Bowen

  9. #24
    tMP Master Friend John Brooks's Avatar
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    There's also a transcription by Darrol Barry recorded by Black Dyke on Spectacular Classics - Vol.6. Never heard the Bernaerts version and so can't make a comparison, but I personally like the Barry. I've also had a lot of enjoyment over the years, listening to arrangements and transcriptions played by bands and many times, when I was young, that led to me going out and buying the orchestral version. It also gave me the opportunity to play some music that I otherwise would not have had.

    As an aside, I remember the Barber Adagio being used for the opening of the movie Platoon as new troops were arriving in Vietnam and they had to walk past the lines of coffins readied for the return flight to the U.S. The profound effect of that scene, juxtaposed with the music, has never left me.

  10. #25
    tMP Senior Friend toby hobson's Avatar
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    Personally I think a lot of this boils down to snobbery. Iím afraid if you asked the public at large who wrote Adagio for strings, they would probably say William Orbit and not Samuel Barber. Itís just a good tune which means a lot to many people mainly because of the previously mentioned scene in Platoon. It appears to be an excuse for people to show how clever they are by saying it's sacrilege to attempt it for band (without actually giving many technical reasons) Would the same snobby fuss be made by the rock community when an Orchestra in an attempt to entice more people into their shows do some arrangements of Queen and the Rolling Stones? I donít think so. If an arrangement is made by any group, itís because the original tune is good.

    Is this in bad taste?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3KU9...4&feature=plcp

    strange yes BUT

    I think itís pretty beautiful really!!!

  11. #26
    tMP Prime Friend James Yelland's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gnats Crotchet View Post
    I've never heard the Samuel Barber played by a band...
    You'll find it hidden away at the end of Eikanger's CD Art of the States as an 'extra' item. For some reason it the sound engineer decided to put far more reverb on this track than any of the others on the CD. I tend to agree with GJG - it isn't very well suited to the brass treatment.
    Jim Yelland
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  12. #27
    tMP Prime Friend James Yelland's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trumpetmike View Post
    I heard a brass ensemble play a transcription of the Rite of Spring...
    Really? I only ask because Derek Bourgeois once asked permission of the Stravinsky estate to arrange it for band and was refused. So I suspect what you heard was not, ahem, strictly legal.

    ...for me it missed the whole point - even with a wide variety of timbral effects being used (instruments, mutes, even variety of vibrato) it still didn't have enough colours to portray even a small percentage of the original.
    I feel exactly the same about arrangements of the finale of the Saint-Saens Organ Symphony - in the band version all the brass fanfares which are such an integral feature of the original are lost. As well as the rippling piano arpeggios.
    Jim Yelland
    Hinckley

  13. #28
    tMP Friend for Life Thirteen Ball's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MoominDave View Post
    I don't see why a band arrangement of the Barber 'Adagio' shouldn't work nicely - the point of its tonal palette is the big wide lush homogeneous sound of a string section, a natural strength that is also shared by brass bands. But on a third hand, the words 'Bernaerts Music' attached to the arrangement make me suspect the worst...
    In a nutshell, that sums up my opinion rather nicely.

    Several posters here seem to be labouring under the misapprehension that arranging a piece for band is an attempt to replicate the original, when in most cases the arranger is well aware that it simply isn't possible to do so with the instruments at his/her disposal.

    (I'm going to skip over Mr Bernaerts in this case as the exception that disproves the rule.....)

    I've arranged a large number of works from different ensembles for band, and the first thing that I always ask is can the original intent of the composer can be replicated?

    If the answer to that is no, that does not mean I abandon the whole project and move on - nor should I, because there is an important second question to be asked, which is can I re-interpret the original to produce something musically interesting and worthwhile?

    If the answer to the second question is yes, then I'm perfectly willing to go ahead, even if the result is a long way removed from the intention of the original piece, and I have to say I don't hold with blanket arguments to the contrary - which as other posters have already said, smack of snobbery to me.

    Consider if you will, Kevin Bolton's arrangement of the Rodrigo done for brassed off. No, it ain't exactly true to the original, which is gentle, wistful and pensive. Bolton's is powerful, dark and brooding and as far removed from the original as it's possible to imagine.

    Could you replicate the original mood on brass? No, definitely not. However has he done something interesting and musically worthwhile with it? I'd endeavour to say that he has.

    The important thing for me is to respect that there is merit in both approaches. One can use the same underlying music to speak to an audience in different ways, and this is where the skill of the arranger lies. To go back to the debate over Daphnis and Chloe, don't forget that Ravel himself was a master arranger. So good in fact that some of his orchestrations are the ones people now know as the original - Pictures at an exhibition being the perfect example.

    I'm all for criticising and not playing bad arrangements, those where the scoring has simply been lifted and copy-pasted onto a new ensemble with no regard to musical sympathy or either ensemble. I don;t think there is any place in a modern brass band for such shoddy work - prevelant though it may be.

    But I do object strongly to the argument that certain pieces should not even be considered for arrangement on the grounds that the original cannot be accurately replicated, because it seems to me that this is often the entire point of the exercise.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    And to the OP, I'm afraid I can't help you with that one. It's not in our library.
    Last edited by Thirteen Ball; 08.07.2012 at 10:44.
    Andi Cook: BBb Bass - Hebden Bridge
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  14. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Bowen View Post
    Someone mentioned having to breathe but remember, Barber himself made a choral version (titled Agnus Dei) from the original string quartet version.
    True - but the fact that the composer did it himself doesn't automatically mean anyone else has to think that was a good idea either...!

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