Brass band arrangements that are better than the originals..

Cantonian

Active Member
Shostakovavic and Tchaikovsky's music when well arranged for brass band 'in my view' sounds better than original orchestral versions.
In my view is the important part of that statement because in reality the whole argument is subjective and skewed by us being brass players. I once heard a bassoon player comment that Mozart's horn concerti sounded far better on a bassoon than on a horn!
 

stephen2001

Member
A lot of overtures arraged by people like Rimmer I prefer to the orignial orchestral work, things like :-
  • Nabuco
    William Tell
    1812
    Zampa
    Poet & Peasant......the list goes on!
 

sparkling_quavers

Active Member
stephen2001 said:
A lot of overtures arraged by people like Rimmer I prefer to the orignial orchestral work, things like :-
  • Nabuco
    William Tell
    1812
    Zampa
    Poet & Peasant......the list goes on!

yeah i agree.... EGMONT!
 

andywooler

Supporting Member
I Have a recording of Leonard Bernstein conducting the strings of the New York Phil. which is simply incredible
I've got the Bernstein/Chicago version which is also absolute knockout![/quote]
 

Pythagoras

Active Member
Idon't know about better, maybe just more to my taste, nut I prefer both the brass version of Concerto d'Aranjuez and the Miles Davis version to the Rodrigo original, though I like that as well.
 

Shommusic

New Member
Better than the original?.....

Agree with the Saint Saens Organ Symphony. Can't beat hearing Dyke playing that, bells out! Much more exciting than an orchestra!

IMHO the SA version of (Melodies from) Dvoraks New World Symphony is outstanding (cant remember who's transcription it is...), and more listenable than the orchestral version.

Some interesting thoughts re Barbers Adagio for Strings. Anyone hear the BBC SO play it at the Last Night of the Proms, two years ago, a week after 9/11? Slatkin conducted a very emotional performance. Lovely stuff.

To change the slant of this thread slightly.... What 'originals' have been murdered when transcribed for brass band??

Surely the SA must be responsible for some all time 'lows'!? Particularly ones by that chap who used to be head of music editorial, conducted the SA Ringer band in North London, played the piano a bit too...... name suddenly escapes me!!! (For legal reasons!!) :lol:
 

yorkyboy

Member
Roger Thorne said:
Adagio for Strings - Definitely leave well alone!

:wink:


Simon Wood has done an outstanding arrangement of this which I think is available through Prima music. Well worth a look
 

Moy

Active Member
My thoughts are more along the line of great pieces like Berlioz's The Corsair....what a cracking good arrangement for Brass Band.....love it.
There are others I would say leave well alone.
 

Brian Kelly

Active Member
The SA arrangement of (Melodies from) Dvojak's New World Symphony is by Ray Steadman-Allen, which I have enjoyed playing in the past.

Brian Bowen did an arrangement of Themes from Schubert's 5th Symphony, which I liked when I heard it on a recording once, but which is rarely heard these days.

Abert Jakeway did a lot of classical arrangements - his setting of Mozart's Ave Verum is one of our band's "standby" pieces, and we always play it on Remembrance Sunday.

George Marshall did an arrangement of the 1st Movement of Schubert's Unfinished Symphony, which is good EXCEPT for the ending, which some musical vandal at the SA Music Dept must have changed - I can't believe that George Marshall would have changed the ending like that! :evil:

I think a lot of SA arrangements of classical music date from the days when SA bands were (officially) only allowed to play music published by the SA and non-SA bands were not (officially) allowed to play SA music - hence rival SA and non-SA versions of the Overture to "The Magic Flute", "Elsa's Procession to the Cathedral", The Appian Way from "The Pines of Rome", "Capriccio Italienne", Nimrod from the "Enigma Variations", etc, etc. Some of these appeared suspiciously quickly after each other as well!

One pet hate I have was the vogue (now hopefully dead) for cutting up bits of a composer's music and stitching them together in a sort of "edited highlights"- the "Bits of Bruckner" type pieces. While some of these are very good arrangements as arrangements - "Kaleidoscope" (the music of Rimsky-Korsakov) arr. Brian Bowen, "Treasures ofTchaikovsky" and"Moments with Tchaikovsky" both by Bramwell Coles, for example - it is the principle I dislike. :x (just my view of course - others may disagree!)

I wonder who Shommusic is referring to? :wink: And which band he means by the SA Ringer Band? :wink:
 

Shommusic

New Member
I wonder who Shommusic is referring to? And which band he means by the SA Ringer Band?

Not too hard to work out, id imagine! Just read their concert reviews on 4barsrest, should be able to work out who the rent-a-top-man band are!!! :lol:
 

Mrs Fruity

Member
I think Berlioz is one of the few composers whose music transcribes really well for brass band - and can I just point out that our heritage in the brass band movement is one of bringing classics to the masses? (a fact of which I'm very proud) - if brass bands hadn't existed in the late 19th and early 20th century, many working class people would never have heard opera or any other form of classical music.
Is the arrangement of Barber's Adagio Roger Payne's? IMHO it's fab.
 

amgray

Member
Mrs Fruity said:
- if brass bands hadn't existed in the late 19th and early 20th century, many working class people would never have heard opera or any other form of classical music.
Without engaging in a personal attack, when was the last time that anyone heard Opera (a musical format utilising human voices as the primary medium) from a Brass Band?

We 'borrow' music from other genres - and why not. To say we improve it when we borrow it is arrogant and elitist. At the end of the day, we have a very limited range and spectrum of sounds available to us, we offer a tonally limited alternative, not an improved version of the original.

There are nuances available in every other ensemble that we just cannot recreate with brass instruments - just as the opposite applies.

Play to our strengths, enjoy what we do, and remember - there is a world of music that does not involve Brass Bands. Listen to it all and enjoy it with an open mind.
 

andyp

Active Member
Thought of one more last night - anyone remember Faireys doing ' What Time Is Love' and other dance music a couple of years ago? Even made the North West News.
Brave thing to try, but I don't think dance music translates to brass band, it's too repetitive and we like something more interesting!
 

Keppler

Moderator
Staff member
amgray said:
To say we improve it when we borrow it is arrogant and elitist. At the end of the day, we have a very limited range and spectrum of sounds available to us, we offer a tonally limited alternative, not an improved version of the original.

But to assume that we can never improve it is also arrogant and elitist (in the other direction)

Also, we tend to put past composers and artists up on a pedastel, especially if they are no longer living. We assume that they wanted a particular musical effect and we set that in stone. Perhaps in some cases, a "tonaly limited alternative" is an improved version.

Music has to evolve as times change, and I believe that part of that evolution means finding new expression of old ideas. Of course arrangers and new composers strive to "better" existing music. If they don't think they can add anything new, then why do it at all?

Of course, I'm not saying that every brass arrangement is fundamentally better than the original. But I do think (and this is a personal opinion) that in some cases, a certain brass band arrangement can be an improvemnt on the original.
 

amgray

Member
Keppler said:
...Also, we tend to put past composers and artists up on a pedastel, especially if they are no longer living. We assume that they wanted a particular musical effect and we set that in stone....

Music has to evolve as times change, and I believe that part of that evolution means finding new expression of old ideas. Of course arrangers and new composers strive to "better" existing music. If they don't think they can add anything new, then why do it at all?

Of course, I'm not saying that every brass arrangement is fundamentally better than the original. But I do think (and this is a personal opinion) that in some cases, a certain brass band arrangement can be an improvemnt on the original.

The point I was trying (probably unsuccesfully) to make is that we should not think about 'improving' a piece by arranging it for band but of presenting it in a different soundscape. Different from, not competing with, the original. See orchestral arrangements of Pictures at an Exhibition, Claire de Lune etc for examples of this.

I don't believe in 'Deifying' any composer, living or dead, but I do think they generally are/were competent enough to score the effect they did want.

I have no problem with music evolving and the more new music the better, but do you really think that the band world is ready to arrange Pendercki or Ligeti? Look at the furore caused by McCabe in his Images. Not exactly cutting edge musically, even back in 1983.

I am in favour of arranging music from other genres, I am against taking the view that when we arrange it for our limited resources (effectively only a four octave range) we improve it.
I've arranged everything from Monteverdi to Billy Joel for Brass, but I've never approached it with the idea of it being anything other than a different version and more of a tribute than an improvement.

Flame away :D :D :D
 

horn1

Member
yorkyboy said:
Roger Thorne said:
Adagio for Strings - Definitely leave well alone!

:wink:


Simon Wood has done an outstanding arrangement of this which I think is available through Prima music. Well worth a look

Definately! I've played this version with simon conducting and it's excellent! Very hard though, you need a ventilator to get through it!!! :shock:
 

Roger Thorne

Active Member
horn1 said:
Definately! I've played this version with simon conducting and it's excellent! Very hard though, you need a ventilator to get through it!!! :shock:
I don't doubt the arrangement for one minute, Simon Wood is a very talented musician, but the title of this thread is Brass Band Arrangements that are better than the original. In my opinion no 'brass' arrangement of Adagio for Strings will be an improvement on the original!

:wink:
 

horn1

Member
amgray said:
The point I was trying (probably unsuccesfully) to make is that we should not think about 'improving' a piece by arranging it for band but of presenting it in a different soundscape. Different from, not competing with, the original. See orchestral arrangements of Pictures at an Exhibition, Claire de Lune etc for examples of this.


I am in favour of arranging music from other genres, I am against taking the view that when we arrange it for our limited resources (effectively only a four octave range) we improve it.
I've arranged everything from Monteverdi to Billy Joel for Brass, but I've never approached it with the idea of it being anything other than a different version and more of a tribute than an improvement.

Flame away :D :D :D

I agree totally with Pictures at an Exhibition, I had only ever heard the orchestral arrangment until recently. When I heard the original piano version I was blown away, completely different but equally as good. Different ideas and empasises (is that a word?) made the two versions stand alongside each other very well.

I think the point of this thread is, that as brass players music comes alive when we hear it on our instruments of choice. I enjoy most types of music, but am always drawn to brass. Earlier I heard Mahlers 3rd Symphony for the first time and was totally blown away by the opening section which is very brass heavy(not sure how far it got I lost reception part way through!!) but later on when the strings took over I completely lost interest. I don't think this is because it is any better or worse but because I identify with brass music more than I do with string music. I need to refine my listening to be able to concentrate as fully on strings!
 

amgray

Member
horn1 said:
....I enjoy most types of music, but am always drawn to brass. Earlier I heard Mahlers 3rd Symphony for the first time and was totally blown away by the opening section which is very brass heavy(not sure how far it got I lost reception part way through!!) but later on when the strings took over I completely lost interest....

Did you get as far as the Trombone Solo? Well worth the effort of getting a recording (try your library).
You should also listen to Mahler 5, Mahler 2 and Mahler 8 as well (in that order).
The scoring by Mahler bears out what I mean about tonal variations, huge orchestras with a wide variety of instruments used in differing combinations to create numerous tapestries not just full on power - but when the full forces are used!!!!

I have probably turned into a BOC and should quit this thread now...... :shock:
 

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