Music for Smaller Bands


Active Member
As a conductor of a band smaller than the standard group, I often wonder why more music for smaller groups isn't available. Being in the US, where it can be difficult at times to get a full group together, I'd like to see more music with 6 - 10 essential parts, 15 - 16 players.

I suspect that one of the reasons why there isn't more music written for groups of this size is that there aren't contests for groups smaller than the regular-size group. Is that true?
I guess there is no concrete answer to your question...

To be honest IMO I don't think you could call a group of 15 players a brass band. I mean, that's why when only half the band turns up for rehearsal the MD has a tendency to be very angry. I think you defintely need a full brass band to acheive a brass band sound and style. Start taking away members and you begin to taper down to a brass ensemble.
I'm guessing you'd be familiar with the scaled down ten piece brass band based ensemble. The band I play in has huge amounts of ten piece arrangements and originals, as I suspect most bands that have been around for a while would.

My opinion only i guess...


What about SA Unity and Triumph series music? We used to play that a lot when I was in the SA. It works very well with few players as that's what it's written for.


Active Member
What about 10 piece stuff? I don't know where you get it, but there's a lot of it about. We used only get about 10 players on a Tuesday night rehearsal so we'd run through 10 piece. It sounds perfect to me.


Staff member
In the past I think some people have steered clear of the Unity and Triumph series - I played in one band where there were those who turned up their noses every time a Triumph Series journal appeared ("Why are we playing YP band music :?: :!: ").

With the decreasing size of a number of bands there seems to have been a move towards including a number of technically quite advanced pieces in those series, recognising that some bands, although smaller, are made up of first-rate players whose abilities should be catered for. There are certainly a number of widely respected composers whose music can be found there, together with some promising new talent.


PeterBale said:
There are certainly a number of widely respected composers whose music can be found there, together with some promising new talent.

Exactly. There are some quality pieces in there if you know where to find them! Isn't Les Condon's first published piece in there somewhere? (The march Duke Street if I remember rightly)


Active Member
The SA series closest to the the size I asked about in my original post is the American Band Journal, which is 9 parts with some "optional" parts. The Triumph Series is 14 parts. The Unity Series is a 4 + 1 format (four parts plus optional euphonium). The USA Southern Territory publishes a 4 + 1 series also.

For a group of 15 - 16, many items in the Triumph Series do work, as long as you're careful about balance and which parts are missing (if any). For example, there are many TS pieces with uncued divisi euph parts - and I only have one euph.

The main issue for me is that, here in the US, and I suspect in many parts of the world other than the UK, that putting together a fully instrumented brass band is nearly impossible. But putting together a slightly stripped group is much less difficult.

For those who seem to be stuck on calling a smaller group an "ensemble" rather than a "band" - OK, call it whatever. There seems to be a real lack of music for brass-band style instrumentation for groups bigger than a sextet but smaller than a full-size brass band.

And whichever way you want to call it, a group of 25 players playing a piece written for 10 is almost always going to sound better than a group of 10 playing a piece written assuming 25 players. :wink:


Active Member
Australian Euphonium said:
The band I play in has huge amounts of ten piece arrangements and originals, as I suspect most bands that have been around for a while would.

This type of arrangement is scarce in the US market. Most of what I've found is scored for concert-band style brass ensemble, with French horn and trumpet parts. Some of it is OK with the brass-band instruments, but some of it really doesn't work (French horns andd tenor horns don't sound much alike at all).
If you wanted I could look around and see if I could find you some contact details for Australian music outlets who do sell the brass band 10 piece arrangements. Quite a few outlets here do export, although I couldn't guarantee that 10 piece arrangements are still printed regularly.

Drop us an email if you're interested mate.
im currently doing a hymn tune arrangement of warrington and i looked at the red(or orange hymn book as they now r) and i noticed theres actually only 9 parts out of all the parts which have at least 1 difference in them, so technically u cud just take out 9 players from a band, play those parts and theoretically it shud sound pretty good, mr crest maybe u cud write ur own stuff 4 ur group, its fairly time consuming but its quite an interesting hobby if u give it a try, im havin 2 do compostions and arrangements at my college course and altho its very hard sometimes, its kinda fun 2, in the words of neil buchanan(presenter of art attack on citv, a program i used 2 watch as a kid), try it urself, :lol: :D :) 8) :wink:


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