Poll: Thorny Percussion Question

Should bands be penalised if they play at contests without percussion?

  • Total voters


Supporting Member
nickcornock said:
if a band goes out without being able to cover the parts then why should they be penalised? at least they made the effort to turn up and keep the band movement going.
So, by extension of that logic, we needn't have wasted a lot of time and hassle making sure we had a sop player for the areas. Nice Mr adjudicator wouldn't have minded a minute of nothing at the start of the cadenzas in Tristan, and it wouldn't have made any difference to our result. Yeah, right...... if you pull the other one it might jingle!! :wink:

Seems odd to me that we have this thread going at the same time as another with percussionists complaining they don't get noticed enough by the same adjudicators and they want better remarks. Either you're an equal part of the band - which means you are as important to the performance, result and comments as any of the brass players and we should therefore be penalised in your absence, OR you're just optional extras - you can't have it both ways!


Active Member
Defintely penalised. That said, it's up to the organisers of the contest (or the conductor, if it's own choice) to be sensible and not pick pieces for 4th section that require a corps of drums! If you're playing the Masters with the top bands then I don't think it unreasonable to pick a piece needing 3 percussionists?
Properly integrated percussion is a vital part of banding now, like it or not. Certainly if you haven't got one it really does limit what you can play at concerts. I know they're like rocking-horse droppings, but so are bass trom players, and missing those doesn't seem to attract the same amount of discussion!

Will the Sec

Active Member
Blimey, thinking about 2006 already?

You might not be in the 3rd section in 2006 - who knows you could be in the 1st by then!!

No - we've already worked this out.

If we finish 5th or higher we'll top next year's table and I guess anything qround 8th or higher will see us promoted. So, no higher than the third section in 2006!

Ergo, as much percussion as you like for 2005 in the fourth section "'cos it jus' don' seem ta matter", but careful with the choice in 2006 if we do go up!
Morgans Bach said:
Yes! Percussion are vital texture-creating instruments, like any other in the brass band, and if the composer has specifically written percussion parts, then I believe they should definately be played. I wonder what Tristan Encounters would sound like without percussion?! :wink:
Tristan without perc would take about 1 hour to get ready for a contest! (In my dreams!)


How is leaving out the percussion section any different to leaving out the horn section, or the eupho section for example? this affects the sounds produced by the band, it'd be like playing with trumpets instead or cornets...i'm all for conductors interpretting music a little, but i dare say not too many composers would be thrilled at hearing their music is being played without percussion...

its just like playing unwritten pedal notes only worse ;)


Supporting Member
andyp said:
I know they're like rocking-horse droppings, but so are bass trom players, and missing those doesn't seem to attract the same amount of discussion!

It has been known for important bass trom parts to be covered by Eb bass players. You can do that with the brass. Very often, re-voicing the missing part(s) will solve a problem in a way that can't be done with percussion. So I voted No.


Active Member
At one time, percussion was considered an accessory in brass bands, and many bands played without percussion. Modern brass band music demands skilled percussionists, just like it demands other skilled players in all of the sections.

That being said, I voted Yes.

BUT . . .

I do think that there has been a rush to overly complicated and demanding percussion parts in recent years, often requiring three or more percussionists to pull the piece off properly. Everyone would cry foul if there were a test piece requiring three sops or multiple bass trombones, because there aren't enough skilled players on those instruments to have multiples in every band. Test piece percussion parts should be limited to those actually playable by two players (maybe three in the upper sections).


New Member
I think bands who play without percussion should be penalised or alternatively docked places. Some bands (inluding my own) go to great lengths to ensure we have appropriate percussion for performances whereas some just leave it out. If the parts are there they should be played.


just as the 2nd cornet part is split sometimes; requiring two players, if the test piece is scored for 3 percussionists then that is what you need to handle. There are pieces scored for two flugels, so what is the problem about 3 percussionists??

the cornet SECTION has (generally) 4 top cornets, 1 sop, 1 rep, 2 seconds, 2 thirds. Thats 10 players in the section. Horn section= 4 players (inc. flugel)
so why is there a fuss made about a section with only 3 percussionists in?

Obviously it would be a set piece but if it is then every band is "in the same boat". If you dont have a skilled percussionist then you get marked down. I know its the harsh reality but if black dyke didn't have the top players as they do now then they would not be as good as they are!

for example, if a band has no flugel for a contest then they find a flugel player.

Thats contesting for you. i would deffinitely mark a band down for not complying to the requirements of the piece that i would have set them.


Staff member
As far as I am concerned, the percussion should be treated the same as any other section of the band. If, with closed adjudication (another can of worms, I know :oops: ), an adjudicator is aware of parts being missing, or played on other instruments, then they should feel free to comment and to mark accordingly. As others have said, it doesn't seem fair if one band has players who have worked hard to learn the music, whether or not they have a full complement of players, only to find their efforts totally ignored by the adjudicator.

As a side issue, I am sure bands would attract percussionists more easily if they have busy programmes with repertoire that will interest and challenge the players


Active Member
The brass band movement is very slow. Many people still think of percussion as an allowable extra, after all, when contesting first began, (which was TWO CENTURIES AGO), percussion was not included. The world famous 'Whit Friday March Contests' still have this rule. I know that it is sometimes difficult, especially in the lower sections, to get a percussionist. At the same time, it would be nice to include percussion as a recognised part of the brass band instrumentation, even if it were like the old 25 piece British Military Band standard, which included 'drums & percussion - 1'.


Staff member
. . . At the same time, it would be nice to include percussion as a recognised part of the brass band instrumentation, even if it were like the old 25 piece British Military Band standard, which included 'drums & percussion - 1'.
Problem is, we haven't got an oboe & bassoon who can take over the bass drum & cymbals on the march :shock:


New Member
i've read through all these and you're probally gonna think, whos she to say this?!
last year for one reason or another we cudnt get ANY percussionists together, but fortunately we had 4 (wivout flug) horns.

one of our horns moved on to percussion for the contest, and did an absolutely fantastic job.

we're pretty low on the ground with decent players at the mo and with 2 of our horns leaving very soon, we're a bit stuck.
I'd love to contest more, but its just not possible when you havnt got a full band.

although i know percussion is as important as any other instrument section in the band, it is very unfair to discriminate because of the lack of players

the lower section bands cant get the players together (we are section 4) to make us pay for it, maybe for the finals, yeh.
but lower section bands dont attract the players, and therefore we cant get an entire band together.

its also about location, its a bit easier (around here) to get bands in crewe (theres at least 4) and players, than the likes of northwich.

where are all the percussionists and cornet players?
my bands need you!!

rant over

kell xx


Penalised but not crucified.

Really does depend though...what section band, how exotic the percussion required is etc.....

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