What is in good or bad taste?

Brian Bowen

Active Member
I wonder what others think is good and band taste when it comes to band arrangements? I’m thinking particularly of pieces that have been jazzed up, e.g. Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor — the version transcribed by Ray Farr from, I think, an already existing rock version. We know that the music of composers who are out of copyright is at the mercy of commercialism. Classic Rock recordings have exploited this field and some TV adverts have appropriated classical music, often detrimentally.

A fairly recent example challenging our sense of good taste (in this case of copyright music and very near to home) is a swing arrangement of Eric Ball’s classic march “Torchbearers” by an American and re-titled “Torchswingers”: it’s even been published in the USA! I cringe and am embarrassed when I hear it. I know things like this happen in student pranks and sometimes raise a laugh, but to publish and make generally available the corrupted music of a much-revered composer…

We’ve often heard “one man’s meat is another man’s poison”: what do you think?
 

Dave Payn

Active Member
Haven't heard the Ball being bounced as it were...., but I'm not particularly a fan of the Ray Farr Toccata you mention. I think even Acid House suits brass bands better than Disco! Still, I guess I'm in the minority on this one!

As for other types, I think Classic Rock was generally well received (I must admit, I never really heard any of it!) and from a band point of view, I think Darrol Barry's arrangement of Bohemian Rhapsody works very well.

Probably the worst example of 'serious' works being 'bastardized' (if you'll forgive me, mods) was Louis Clark's Hooked on Classics. Not only trite but a word that rhymes with it, to my ears. Still, that was also successful at the time (I'm not sure it did the RPO's reputation any good, but there you go!) so who am I to knock it?? ;-)
 
You beat me to it, Dave. Hooked on Classics gets my vote too. Unless of course you're talking about the Portsmouth Sinfonia attempt - Classical Muddly, I think - which is sheer class!
 

PeterBale

Moderator
Staff member
I think the major problem with "Hooked on Classics" and the like is that they've taken the easy option, basically taking slices of existing works, sticking them together with little in the way of links between them, and stuk a rhythm track underneath.

I would see something like the Ellington reworkings of "Nutcracker Suite" etc, or the swing "Troika" as being a different kettle of fish entirely, where somebody has taken the effort to rethink it completely. I haven't come across the "Torchbearers" Brian mentioned, but there is always the risk of offending someone when you start either changing or even parodying something that it seen as a classic, or that someone holds particular affection for.
 

W.Rimmer

Member
Brian Bowen said:
I wonder what others think is good and band taste when it comes to band arrangements?

I detest anything that requires cornets to play like jazz trumpets, anything that requires baritones and horns to imitate saxes, anything with jazz bass lines transcribed onto 4 unison tubas, anything that originally had a guitar, piano, bass and drums style rhythm section and now hasn't, anything with "written out" jazz solos which are always played in an inappropriate style, and of course Hootenany.
Brass bands trying to be "hip" for the sake of crowd-pleasing seem about as convincing to me as the guitar-playing trendy vicar!
Now I think of it, most of the stuff on Listen to the Band makes me cringe these days. Black Dyke managed to play a cringe-free programme a few weeks ago, so my taste must accord with someone's!
 

TheMusicMan

tMP Founder
Staff member
W.Rimmer said:
Brian Bowen said:
I wonder what others think is good and band taste when it comes to band arrangements?
I detest anything that requires cornets to play like jazz trumpets, anything that requires baritones and horns to imitate saxes, anything with jazz bass lines transcribed onto 4 unison tubas, anything that originally had a guitar, piano, bass and drums style rhythm section and now hasn't, anything with "written out" jazz solos which are always played in an inappropriate style, and of course Hootenany.
Brass bands trying to be "hip" for the sake of crowd-pleasing seem about as convincing to me as the guitar-playing trendy vicar!
Now I think of it, most of the stuff on Listen to the Band makes me cringe these days. Black Dyke managed to play a cringe-free programme a few weeks ago, so my taste must accord with someone's!
Hehe, so I guess you're not into dressing up in daft fancy outfits in order to please the crowd at events then eh Mr w.rimmer... just dickie-bows and jackets for you eh :wink:

hehe
 

W.Rimmer

Member
PeterBale said:
they've taken the easy option, basically taking slices of existing works, sticking them together with little in the way of links between them.
Check your library for the "Humourous Fantasia: Musical Fragments". William Rimmer was onto the Hooked-On formula many years before Louis Clark. He just lacked the clap machine.
 

Moy

Active Member
Anglo Music Press said:
I don't think there's such a thing as bad taste (or good taste, come to that) only different tastes :lol:
Well put Mr Sparke.
 

jameshowell

Active Member
I have to admit that the Toccata and Fuge in D minor that Black Dyke played at the championships a couple of years ago does it for me, I quite like it :oops:

Though I do agree, some arrangements do seem to spoil the original. But then again, some arrangements can save poor compositions...
 

W.Rimmer

Member
TheMusicMan said:
Hehe, so I guess you're not into dressing up in daft fancy outfits in order to please the crowd at events then eh Mr w.rimmer... just dickie-bows and jackets for you eh
If the money is right anything is possible. I HAVE EVEN done hooked-on classics concerts with Louis Clark for money, and I used to be the "voice" of Sonia's terrible trumpet on Eastenders. I have no pride really.
 

W.Rimmer

Member
Anglo Music Press said:
All right, prove me wrong then!! :lol:
I have always regarded everything you write as being appropriate for the medium and very tasteful. I don't really believe that someone as accomplished as yourself is deaf to the breaches of good taste that occur so very regularly. Are you perhaps too much of a gentleman to run down other peoples' work? :)
On a more serious note, I DO worry about the way the musically aware public outside of the brass band fraternity perceive some of the ill-conceived offerings that are put forward...radio and record producers fall into that category.
 

Tpascoe

New Member
Brian Bowen said:
A fairly recent example challenging our sense of good taste (in this case of copyright music and very near to home) is a swing arrangement of Eric Ball’s classic march “Torchbearers” by an American and re-titled “Torchswingers”: it’s even been published in the USA! I cringe and am embarrassed when I hear it. I know things like this happen in student pranks and sometimes raise a laugh, but to publish and make generally available the corrupted music of a much-revered composer…
Actually published in the SA American Festival Series #28. I personally do not care for it and wondered about its inclusion, especially considering it is included with peices like Emil Soderstrom's Chicago Staff Band Jubilee and others. However, the Chicago Staff Band has used a variety of non traditional arrangments in its programming, at least as I recall from hearing them over the years and I think in this area (Chicago) it has had great appeal.
 

Anglo Music Press

Well-Known Member
The point I was trying to make is that taste is not an absolute, but depends on the cultural 'concensus' at any one time.

I find Kenny Rogers completely tasteless, but there are others who obviously like him - some of whom must have some residual hearing !! :lol:
 

James McFadyen

New Member
I agree with Philip all the way here! :)

Lauradoll, if you like cheesy music, why can't I arrange Have a Cheeky Christmas??? ;) I'm so eager to try my hands at it, perhaps make a more 'classical' arrangment of it? mmmm


Anyhow.............What Philip says about the cultural concensus is quite true and i'll second his opinion.
 

W.Rimmer

Member
On reflection, I'm far too precious about this issue of bad taste. I was heavily indoctrinated during my time at London Collegiate Brass (even though I thought I could see through all the pretensions).
Hooked on Classics saved the RPO from financial ruin.
The Floral Dance bought Brighouse a bandroom.
My swing verion of Slaidburn will start next week.
 
Top