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Thread: Brass Band Arrangements of Pop Songs - Your Opinions!

  1. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by DRW View Post
    Sorry, I didn't make my point clear. 'Original' implies 'unfamilar' and my comparison was based on whether audiences want to listen to familiar or unfamiliar music.

    Brass bands that pursue original music will be pursuing a limited, specialist audience. This seems counterproductive to the argument that you seem to be making.
    Weather a Brass Band plays an obscure Rachmaninoff number in full as played on radio 3 or a popular excerpt of william tell overture as played on Classic FM that Brass Band is covering the Original work.

    So... this is saying that unless a brass band performs popular music from outside its own world (be that normally played on Classic FM or Radio 1 or 2) the Brass Band will only be limiting its performance to a specialist audience ?
    If I understand correctly, the speciallist audience will be a minority ?
    And a minority who have come to listen to original brass band music ?
    So... out of the small audience we have, it would be a minority of that audience who may appreciate original brass band music ?

    Not sounding good for Brass Bands

  2. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by simonium View Post
    Personally unless it's a suitably epic song, I cringe when hearing bands having a go at pop songs.
    I would have shared this view at one stage in my banding career, however these days I'd much rather hear a good, appropriately stylised arrangement of a 3-4 minute pop song than another uninventive transcription of 'epic classics' such as Bohemian Rhapsody, Music and MacArthur Park.

  3. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by its_jon View Post
    Weather a Brass Band plays an obscure Rachmaninoff number in full as played on radio 3 or a popular excerpt of william tell overture as played on Classic FM that Brass Band is covering the Original work.

    So... this is saying that unless a brass band performs popular music from outside its own world (be that normally played on Classic FM or Radio 1 or 2) the Brass Band will only be limiting its performance to a specialist audience ?
    If I understand correctly, the speciallist audience will be a minority ?
    And a minority who have come to listen to original brass band music ?
    So... out of the small audience we have, it would be a minority of that audience who may appreciate original brass band music ?

    Not sounding good for Brass Bands
    Sorry again, my analogy has confused the point. I'm not talking about brass bands covering music that you would hear on Classic FM or Radio 3. I'm simply saying that there are audiences that enjoy familiar music and those that like the more unusal, and that Classic FM and Radio 3 are examples of media that satisfy the respective audiences for the classic genre.

    I believe your summary is correct apart from the last last point "not sounding good for brass bands". I see the opposite as the opportunity exists to appeal to both sets of audiences. It just sounds like you need to find like-minded players, form a band or 2 to play and promote original music and then we will have all bases covered.

    Your original post suggested that playing original music would help remove the perceived limited audience. How do you see this working?

  4. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by DRW View Post
    Sorry again, my analogy has confused the point. I'm not talking about brass bands covering music that you would hear on Classic FM or Radio 3. I'm simply saying that there are audiences that enjoy familiar music and those that like the more unusal, and that Classic FM and Radio 3 are examples of media that satisfy the respective audiences for the classic genre.

    I believe your summary is correct apart from the last last point "not sounding good for brass bands". I see the opposite as the opportunity exists to appeal to both sets of audiences. It just sounds like you need to find like-minded players, form a band or 2 to play and promote original music and then we will have all bases covered.

    Your original post suggested that playing original music would help remove the perceived limited audience. How do you see this working?
    The small niche audience is not 'percieved' .... It IS small by comparison to many other musical activities.

    The audience we have now, turn up expecting to hear arrangements of 3/4 min covers of pop songs.
    But.... that audience is additionaly made up (for a majority of brass bands in the UK) by friends and family of the brass bands members.
    It is actually a big Turn Off for many (with no connection to a brass band) to endure 2 hours of bubble gum pop played by a brass band.

    I haver no interest in listening to a hammond organ concert where the repotoire is "Happy Hammond goes 1985" (baggy trowsers / Don't stop me now.. etc)
    ... however, if it were a family member tinkling the ivory's I would probably appear to offer support, clap and tap ones foot.
    This is the very same way our concerts are viewed by the outside world.

    Exceptions would be world standard performances by a few virtuoso musicians in the worlds best auditoriums. I may concider going to see that.
    As... some outside the banding world may concider going to hear Dyke in a classy venue.
    I would of course be dissapointed if I diddnt hear Original Organ music...
    and I guess people would find it odd to pay money to hear a brass band play the beatles (unless they were unfamiliar with beatles songs)

    Whats the point of going to listen to a brass band play a um parr version of a pop classic.
    Have you ever bought a CD in error containing covers of popular tunes instead of the original artits ? ... same thing, very dissapointing no matter how well produced.

    We appear to be hanging onto our niche audience by the tips of our fingers.. afraid to play anything original that may not be what they expect and thus loose them.

    Why pander to a niche ? (that is rapidly diminishing in size)

    Surely we should be striving to reach out to a new audience ?

    It is concievable that an Original 3/4 min brass band work could also be popular you know !
    even outside our banding bubble.

    The only way to do that (as a musical movement) is to offer something NEW and Unique to Brass Bands.

    Don't think Old
    Think New !

  5. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by its_jon View Post
    It is concievable that an Original 3/4 min brass band work could also be popular you know!
    That's something Goff Richards sussed over thirty years ago!
    ----------------------
    Simon Phillips

  6. #21
    Absolutly !

  7. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by its_jon View Post
    The small niche audience is not 'percieved' .... It IS small by comparison to many other musical activities
    Please give an example.

  8. #23
    Originally Posted by its_jon
    The small niche audience is not 'percieved' .... It IS small by comparison to many other musical activities


    Quote Originally Posted by DRW View Post
    Please give an example.
    Grimethorpe at the Olympic Opening ceromony.

    A heavily music driven presentation to the world by the United Kingdom.
    The Brass Band having a very niche part to play within the whole musical spectrum of the overall spectacular.
    The role chose - one of tradition. (and under the wing of the Orchestral eye)
    However you spin it, not deemed worthy by the BBC of visual recognition or indeed comentry.

    At Premier music festivals throughout the UK, artists of all Genra and background are chosen to perform whilst Brass Bands are ignored.
    Pure People Power deciding what is popular ... Usually Original music with few if any covers/arrangements.
    With the exception of one recent Brass Band who whilst not performing Original music did create something New.... Fairys

    Where is the Brass Band tent at Glastonbury ?
    The UK's largest music festival embracing as many popular (and less popular) musical forms.
    Its not there...
    Possibly the brass band is a bit over niche, even for Glastonbury
    Consider this though
    If a brass band were contacted by a large festival and asked
    "what brass band music would you play" .... what would you reply ?
    A Beatles medly ? A March ? Resurgum ?
    Two of the above are Original Brass Band... Only one could be considered 'Popular' outside a brass band niche audience. But sadly only popular as a novelty.
    Any trio of kids can knock out a beatles medly on guitars and sound more like the beatles than even Grimethorpe.

    A handful of Top bands in a handful of concert halls once or twice a year is not a large audience..

    Its all down to a lack of Popular Originality from Brass Bands.
    and with cheesy bublegum pop arrangements smothering our libraries it will be a hard modern brass band stereotype to break free from.

    What is worse, been notorious for military style marches and hymn music, or cheesy pop ?

    And yet it has been said that Original brass band works are considered unpopular choices for public performance.

    Of course only reading 'The Bandsman' (a niche magazine most newsagents have to place a special order for) will give anyone the impression that Brass Bands are a HUGE thing.
    Its a daze of a way to continue.
    We may well convince ourselves Brass Bands are making a comeback !

    It would be GREAT if Brass Bands did start tio return to form in the eyes of the majority !

    You wont see that happening playing cheesy pop arrangements throughout the UK.
    That only adds to the modern Brass Band image.

  9. #24
    tMP Senior Friend weenie's Avatar
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    We recently recorded some music for Obrasso and of all the tracks on the disc, my favourite has to be Sandy Smith's arrangement of Stevie Wonder's 'I Just Called To Say I Love You. He's taken it totally off the beaten track and made it his own. Yeah, it's a tad cheesy, but it's meant to be that way.

    I would love to hear a brass band arrangement of this old chestnut!


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d71RiSZcGC8

  10. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by its_jon View Post
    Originally Posted by its_jon
    The small niche audience is not 'percieved' .... It IS small by comparison to many other musical activities




    Grimethorpe at the Olympic Opening ceromony.

    A heavily music driven presentation to the world by the United Kingdom.
    The Brass Band having a very niche part to play within the whole musical spectrum of the overall spectacular.
    The role chose - one of tradition. (and under the wing of the Orchestral eye)
    However you spin it, not deemed worthy by the BBC of visual recognition or indeed comentry.

    At Premier music festivals throughout the UK, artists of all Genra and background are chosen to perform whilst Brass Bands are ignored.
    Pure People Power deciding what is popular ... Usually Original music with few if any covers/arrangements.
    With the exception of one recent Brass Band who whilst not performing Original music did create something New.... Fairys

    Where is the Brass Band tent at Glastonbury ?
    The UK's largest music festival embracing as many popular (and less popular) musical forms.
    Its not there...
    Possibly the brass band is a bit over niche, even for Glastonbury
    Consider this though
    If a brass band were contacted by a large festival and asked
    "what brass band music would you play" .... what would you reply ?
    A Beatles medly ? A March ? Resurgum ?
    Two of the above are Original Brass Band... Only one could be considered 'Popular' outside a brass band niche audience. But sadly only popular as a novelty.
    Any trio of kids can knock out a beatles medly on guitars and sound more like the beatles than even Grimethorpe.

    A handful of Top bands in a handful of concert halls once or twice a year is not a large audience..

    Its all down to a lack of Popular Originality from Brass Bands.
    and with cheesy bublegum pop arrangements smothering our libraries it will be a hard modern brass band stereotype to break free from.

    What is worse, been notorious for military style marches and hymn music, or cheesy pop ?

    And yet it has been said that Original brass band works are considered unpopular choices for public performance.

    Of course only reading 'The Bandsman' (a niche magazine most newsagents have to place a special order for) will give anyone the impression that Brass Bands are a HUGE thing.
    Its a daze of a way to continue.
    We may well convince ourselves Brass Bands are making a comeback !

    It would be GREAT if Brass Bands did start tio return to form in the eyes of the majority !

    You wont see that happening playing cheesy pop arrangements throughout the UK.
    That only adds to the modern Brass Band image.
    I don't really know what to say other than I'm really glad that I don't suffer these frustrations and instead enjoy the hobby that I've subscribed to for what it is.

  11. #26
    tMP Master Friend nethers's Avatar
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    And we're back the old problem - banding is a mixed bag of those happy to play Bohemian Rhapsody at the local fete who enjoy rehearsals, a beer, and playing music well and those who would like it to be something bigger and grander, better regarded from the outside and attracting new players and audiences, forging its own direction rather than piggy-backing on whatever music is popular at the time.

    They're both valid positions but sadly not complementary of each other.
    Marc Nethercot

    Trombone Dalewool Auckland Brass

  12. #27
    tMP Senior Friend Robin Norman's Avatar
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    Talking

    On the topic there are some great arrangements of pop songs, usually with a different twist (e.g. Mssrs Harper, Sparke et al) but there is an awful lot of 'drivel' which just churns out tunes on Cornets and 'oom-chas' on everyone else. But even these have their place for bands who want 'fillers' at a summer fete or for those groups without a full compliment of players. In these cases these 'simple' arrangements of melody and repeated accompaniment work well and, generally, the punters love them. Recently, at a steam rally, I used an arrangement of "The Ketchup Song". Not challenging playing-wise, not exactly the best example of quality music but, on the two occasions we played it, the crowds grew and we got a larger applause than when we played any of the 'better' pieces. The same, on that day, could be said for Hootenanny, Angels and Everything I Do (Bryan Adams).

    In my opinion there has to be a mix of everything within every band's repertoire. I would not usually dream of playing these 'simpler' type of pieces in a 'proper' concert with a paying audience but I have used the Harper Queen arrangements, Steve Syke's version of "Angels" and, indeed, "Music" by Sparke. In all occasions they have been extremely well received by the audience as part of a mix of all types of music. My personal opinion is that, in these days of diminishing audiences and also diminishing players at times, we need to do whatever we can to get people through the door into concerts. Audiences want to be entertained nowadays and we need to appeal to all. At a recent Raunds concert, as an example, we started with some traditional brass band (death or glory etc.) then moved into Classical arrangements and then, in the second halve, let our hair down a bit more with jazz and pop arrangements. At the end of the concert, as we were packing up, one woman came up to me and told me that she was an avid opera fan on holiday in the area. Traditionally she had stayed away from brass bands. However, having heard our classical pieces she stated that she would now be attending more brass band concerts in her local area (Gloucestershire). I also had a dad who liked brass bands come and thank me as his wife and children had always refused to join him in his love of listening to bands. He had managed to convince them to come to our concert that day though to 'try it out' and they had loved the lighter, 'poppy', numbers in the second halve and said they would like to hear more bands. That is two new groups of people who would not listen to brass bands who now will. In my opinion, job done.

    Back on topic it is easy to criticise those that do arrangements of pop songs for band and, yes, some work better than others. However, if they get punters listening to bands, let's not knock them too much otherwise they may stop and then we'd have the whole 'how do we get audiences' thread starting. I'm happy to 'prostitute' the odd piece into a concert if it means people continue to listen to bands and the audiences come through the doors.

    There you go, rant over (goes back into hole!!)
    Robin Norman
    Tuba Performer/Conductor
    Musical Director : Raunds Temperance Band
    Musical Director : City of Peterborough Youth Concert Band


  13. #28
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    But there is one exception to the rule, when a brass band piece infiltrated the pop world.

    In 1976 the famous Brighouse and Rastrick Brass Band recorded an arrangement of the Moss song made by their Musical Director Derek Broadbent. By Christmas 1977 half a million copies of the record had been sold, and it was only kept from the top position in the Christmas charts by Paul McCartney's 'Mull of Kintyre'. In January 1978 a vocal version by Terry Wogan accompanied by the Hanwell Band reached number 21 on the UK singles chart.

    ****** Mull of Kintyre
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  14. #29
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    On a more serious note, I do think that pop arrangements have a place, no matter how cheesy. I think it depends on the venue of the concert and the audience you are playing to. If we are having a sit down concert in a hall, we play more brass band related items and as Simonium rightly said Goff Richards produced some great 'lighter' pieces that are enjoyable to any audience. However, if we are playing outside, where your audience are members of the public walking past, then the poppier arrangements go down well, because the recognise them. For lower section bands that don't have the pull for concerts that bigger names do, it can be difficult to get new bums on seats. We are not elitist, we don't tell people that they should only listen to us play brass music and enjoy it. As brass players we may cringe when we have to play Hawaii Five O, but on a summers day playing to the general public, you can pretty much guarentee that there will be someone (non-brass follower) pretending they are surf-boarding for at least 10 seconds.
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  15. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by Robin Norman View Post

    Back on topic it is easy to criticise those that do arrangements of pop songs for band and, yes, some work better than others. However, if they get punters listening to bands, let's not knock them too much otherwise they may stop and then we'd have the whole 'how do we get audiences' thread starting. I'm happy to 'prostitute' the odd piece into a concert if it means people continue to listen to bands and the audiences come through the doors.
    I believe arrangements of cheesy pop songs repel considerably more potential punters than they attract.

    In a lot of cases its the type of tune chosen to cover that is the issue.
    It appears to be assumed that it is only tame sounding pop tunes that are suited to a brass band the majority of the time.

    In general though.... Most people who attend a concert of any type want to hear Original music.

    Where this thread has been confuzed, and it happens SO much within banding is that Original Brass Band music is assumed to be complex.
    Original Brass Band music can be pop as well.

    Of course its GREAT to play pop arrangements a lot of the time, easy notes, pleasant passages for all (often at the compromise of the result)
    But.... think of somebody walking by a band playing this.
    Novel, but nothing like the Original

    Mind you.... Below is what I would choose as suitable for a brass band to cover.
    I would be the first to admit, not to everyones tastes...
    but cover versions rendered by a brass band of happy happy pop tunes or worse, semi classic ballards is also a very sickly spoon to swallow for a lot of people with any self respecting passion for music.



    Maybe we should be thinking more ROCK than POP for the future of Brass Bands ?
    Why suppress our 'heavy metal' .... Maybe our path really IS literally the wrong one ?
    We are attempting to hang onto a handful of minority punters who ARE happy to hear a cover version of 'light music' (without the lyrics)

    Do more music with teeth and you may get some dudes in the venue for a change, with no links to brass bands at all.
    (instead of just friends / family or those who see a brass band as a mini classical outfit in the absence of an orchestra)

    Roll out the foot tappers, Bring in the head bangers !

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