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Brass Bands - Gotta love em!


Melange
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Local brass bands. Gotta love em. At this very moment there is a brass band playing in the park near my house in a bandstand there. Nobody is in the park at all (actually, some kids have arrived and are loitering near them now), the surroundings are absolutely saturated in rain from thunder and heavy rain last night and today, yet these folks are like troopers coming out in all weathers to perform out of tune but quirky attempts of well known pieces. Usually it's works like the Blackadder theme and some Star Wars. But today they've been pumping out numbers like Kalinka, Miserlou, and some random old marches that just make you think of the British Empire and 1930s England. Over the years I've found this local band more annoying than anything else, as they usually begin blasting out their tunes when I'm listening to music that gets drowned out by them.

But more and more I now admire them for their tenacity and stamina (they come out in all weathers). Reminds me of the orchestra going down with the ship in the movie Titanic. Playing till the last man. Uh oh, looks like they've drawn out some of the local trouble maker preteens too, like a snake charmer teasing a snake out of a basket.. Yeah, these are kids who have a habit of throwing stones into peoples gardens and kicking in gates and then running off. Hmm, the band has gone silent. Maybe the kids have taken them out with catapults? Poor band. At least they did their duty for Queen and Country :(

Update : Looks like they survived. Now they're playing "New York, New York" :fouetaa: (good peformance, too)

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I usually "don't care" for brass bands, meaning I have nothing against them, I enjoy them when I accidentally come across them (more or less, depending on the music they're playing), but I never consciously seek them out and for some reason I'm deeply suspicious of not only brass band arrangements, but often brass band compositions as well - I still only have the orchestral version of De Meij's LOTR symphony, even though there's a voice inside me that keeps telling me how wrong that is.

But I recently re-watched Brassed Off, which is a wonderful movie with a wonderful soundtrack (I've had the CD for years, and always enjoyed it; the Jones score and even more the non-score band music). So I thought I'd share that here, although there isn't really a point to it. :lol:

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I've been playing in Brass Bands in Little Britain for about 25 years and I wouldn't give it up for anything.

It doesn't pay me anything (in fact it costs me money - probably around £350 - £400 per year when you factor in travel and tours etc), but to be able to entertain people in parks on a Sunday afernoon, have regular rehearsals with cool people, play some fantastic music (even some of the marches are hummable), tour some great places (off to the Netherlands again this year), get packed out audiences - yes, even at parks, try my hand at arranging (my arrangement of the Superman March is just getting some exposure now and Alien is coming along nicely) and generally take part in a cool tradition - well, the pro's far outweigh the con's.....and yes, I have put up with the mickey-taking, the idiots on bikes, the drunks asking us to play "My Way", the band in-fighting (which, I have to say, is blissfully absent in my current lot......)....but in the end, it's simply what I do and who I am ;)

I have played with some of the best bands and best musicians in the country, and it has taken me to places I never thought I would go....with a healthy dose of blood, sweat and tears on the way, of course!

Oh - and I know that arrangement of New York New York that is doing the rounds - it ain't really half bad.....

Oh - and I'm a bloody good principal cornet player!

:lol:

Greg

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What part(s) of Alien are you arranging?

I blanched at the first thought, but remembered the rendition of the middle movement of Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez (Concerto de Orange Juice, if you prefer) from Brassed Off and now find myself intrigued...

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I have a CD that features Brass Band performances of Akira Ifukube's Godzilla music. I think Ifukube arranged them for the performances. It's actually a good CD.

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I have tremendous, tremendous respect and admiration for the brass band movement, and find it very noble, and (and I don't mean to sound patronizing) very touching.

Generally, the kind of musicianship displayed by most good brass bands (of which there are many) is staggering. Also, there's been a lot of really fine music written for this somewhat surprisingly versatile medium.

One thing that I find particularly commendable, is the brass band movement's dedication to new music, and its loyalty to its composers, and its general curiosity towards living composers.

The orchestral community could really learn a thing or two from brass bands, as far as making new music a prominent part of their repertoire.

Most orchestras commission far too few new pieces, and by far too narrow a list of composers, and spend far too little time discovering, or attempting to do justice to, new works.

Not so with brass bands; it seems for every major event in the brass band community, there's at least one new commission, and all these works quickly become part of an active repertoire (contingent on the quality of the works, of course).

Some of my first commissions were from brass bands, and they've given consistently stellar performances of my works.

The amount of time they will spend working on a new piece should also (in an ideal world) be an example to professional orchestras.

I would say that the brass band world is a lot like the global choral community, or the world of wind ensembles. It is a tremendously important and vibrant part of our musical culture, and we should treat it with great respect.

And again, there's a lot of fine music written for this medium, by highly qualified composers, such as Philip Wilby, Philip Sparks, Bruce Broughton, Gustav Holst and others.

Hooray for brass bands!

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As far as I know, Charles Ives was completey buzzed out by big bands playing out against his inner mind.

Hence his, "music"

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I have played with some of the best bands and best musicians in the country, and it has taken me to places I never thought I would go....with a healthy dose of blood, sweat and tears on the way, of course!

Greg

In which Brass Band have you played then? I have been playing for years as percussionist in Brass Band De Bazuin from Oenkerk, The Netherlands (www.debazuinoenkerk.nl) and we participated a lot in Dutch and European Brass Band Contests. In 1999 we even were runner up, one point behind the famous Yorkshire Building Society Band!

With the Bazuin, I have played a lot of arrangments of John Williams' music (Far and Away, Star Wars, March from Midway, March 1941, Amistad, The Lost World, Jurassic Park and lot's of other themes). Stefan Cosman should know this, since I burnt him a CD of recordings of these tracks that we have made over the years.

Do you still remember Steef?

PetePan,

Flying Dutchman

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I stumbled upon this CD on ebay a year or so ago:

http://www.fodensband.co.uk/recordings/epic-themes.htm

I'm so glad I purchased it. There's such passion in the performances --- a very high standard of musicianship. And quite simply, the CD's sound quality is among the best of any recording I've heard. If only Williams himself could have been directly involved with the project... Still though, an amazing album.

This CD, performed by the Grimethorpe Colliery Band (of Brassed Off fame), is on my WANT list:

http://www.amazon.com/Movie-Brass-Grimetho...d/dp/B00005Q32P

At the end of the day, brass band arrangements (when done right) are a worthy compliment to the music of the original compositions. I don't care for the vibrato in the high cornets, though...

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In which Brass Band have you played then?

I was Principle Cornet for the ex-West of England Champions (The Lydmet Lydney Band) for a while, and have also played (briefly) with The Flowers Gloucester Band (now Polysteel) and one or two others....

What part(s) of Alien are you arranging?

The End Titles, though if it is any good I may do some more of it.....but it is tough to really get the atmosphere I really want - and the opening chord of the end titles kept me busy for days! :lol:

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...and for some reason I'm deeply suspicious of not only brass band arrangements, but often brass band compositions as well - I still only have the orchestral version of De Meij's LOTR symphony, even though there's a voice inside me that keeps telling me how wrong that is.

Well, yes, that is deeply wrong, because that's not even a "brass band" composition, that's for full wind ensemble...and was originally composed and conceived for such. ;) De Meij didn't even write the orchestral arrangement himself. The LSO performs it beautifully, but it is hard for me to not feel like the orchestral version sounds wrong somehow, especially in the nature sounds of Lothlorien, the strings really stick out to me.

There are a lot of great compositions being written for brass band, De Meij has written several, the coolest I've heard being his "Extreme Make-over", a metamorphosis on themes of Tchaikovsky. The recording I have is played by the Black Dyke band, and they are phenomenal!

In America, our high level "brass bands" take the form of marching drum corps that compete in the DCI circuit, made up of outstanding brass and percussion players across the country of ages 17-22. Besides performing fiendishly hard arrangements they march at lightning speed whilst playing, it is very fun to watch and the amount of work they put into it is mindboggling. :blink: One of my classmates at college was in one, and they basically give up their lives for a whole summer to do it, touring around the country performing and competing.

I think the European movement for brass and wind bands is really cool, all these community bands and the chance to just get out and play, and even compete in contests, a great way to keep up your playing past school.

A friend of mine in the Netherlands, in college studying computers, plays for fun in a "fanfare band" (which is apparently a Dutch invention of a brass band augmented with saxophones). I've heard some of their recordings from the World Music Contest in Kerkrade, and the musicianship is very high level, and so is the dedication exhibited in these community bands.

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Well, yes, that is deeply wrong, because that's not even a "brass band" composition, that's for full wind ensemble...and was originally composed and conceived for such. :lol:

...whoops...

De Meij didn't even write the orchestral arrangement himself.

I knew that at least.

The LSO performs it beautifully, but it is hard for me to not feel like the orchestral version sounds wrong somehow, especially in the nature sounds of Lothlorien, the strings really stick out to me.

On the other hand, one of the most memorable bits of Lothlorien is straight out of RVW's London Symphony, so it's original form is orchestral... :lol:

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There are a lot of great compositions being written for brass band, De Meij has written several, the coolest I've heard being his "Extreme Make-over", a metamorphosis on themes of Tchaikovsky. The recording I have is played by the Black Dyke band, and they are phenomenal!

Indeed they are....they could probably be considered the best in the world.

Greg - who still has a friend or two in that band.

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A friend of mine in the Netherlands, in college studying computers, plays for fun in a "fanfare band" (which is apparently a Dutch invention of a brass band augmented with saxophones). I've heard some of their recordings from the World Music Contest in Kerkrade, and the musicianship is very high level, and so is the dedication exhibited in these community bands.

That's fun, I have participated 3 times at the WMC in Kerkrade, with the Dutch Percussion Ensemble (NSE) and with several fanfares. Which Dutch fanfare does your friend play in?

BTW a fanfare isn't only a brassband augmented with saxophones, but also the flugelhorn is the principal melody instrument, compared to the solo cornet in a brassband. Besides a brassband has a fixed numer of players (28, if you count in 3 percussionists), where a fanfare can go up to almost 100 (i've seen them in Kerkrade).

PetePan

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BTW a fanfare isn't only a brassband augmented with saxophones, but also the flugelhorn is the principal melody instrument, compared to the solo cornet in a brassband. Besides a brassband has a fixed numer of players (28, if you count in 3 percussionists), where a fanfare can go up to almost 100 (i've seen them in Kerkrade).

Thanks for clearing that up, I was confused about the actual "fanfare" instrumentation...actually my friend plays fluegel in his band. :thumbup: And he is in the Gelders Fanfare Orkest. I heard a recording of one of their WMC performances where they played Stephen Mellilo's "In A Cause Called Glorious" and it was sooooo good...I wish we had more wind groups like that here outside of colleges!

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With the Bazuin, I have played a lot of arrangments of John Williams' music (Far and Away, Star Wars, March from Midway, March 1941, Amistad, The Lost World, Jurassic Park and lot's of other themes). Stefan Cosman should know this, since I burnt him a CD of recordings of these tracks that we have made over the years.

Do you still remember Steef?

PetePan,

Flying Dutchman

I remember, it still gets an occasional ply in this house.

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The LSO performs it beautifully, but it is hard for me to not feel like the orchestral version sounds wrong somehow, especially in the nature sounds of Lothlorien, the strings really stick out to me.

On the other hand, one of the most memorable bits of Lothlorien is straight out of RVW's London Symphony, so it's original form is orchestral... ;)

I still wonder whether he did that on purpose or not. Would've been quite a coincidence ... :P Saxbabe, too bad you didn't ask him when you met him! :ola:

I have myself been a member of the concert band for the last 10 years (percussion section, mostly timpani). I adore concert bands (especially the really good ones, such as Tokyo Kosei Wind Ochestra etc.) and the original concert music written for them (Johan de Meij, Jan Van der Roost, Robert W. Smith and maaany more, I've already elaborated on this topic on some other thread), which I am happy enought to be able to perform on a regular basis.

We will shortly be celebrating the 95th anniversary of the band I play in and will amongst other things be performing a fantastic 10 minute long composition Die große Seefahrt 1492 - Kolumbus by Czech composer Pavel Staněk. A really great piece. :) In the last months, we have been practicing and performing such masterpieces as Van der Roost's symphonic poem Spartacus (a GREAT part for timpani! :D) and Sinfonietta and Bart Picqueur's Symphony No. 0 'Phoenix ex cinere suo renascitur'.

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I still wonder whether he did that on purpose or not. Would've been quite a coincidence ... :P

Can't be a coincidence. He either did it on purpose or just go the phrase in his head and didn't realise it wasn't by him. But two composers independently writing symphonies, one about London and the other about Lothlorien, and ending up with the same music is... unlikely. :P

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Bart Picqueur's Symphony No. 0 'Phoenix ex cinere suo renascitur'.

Darn, I thought only Bruckner composed a Symphony No. 0...

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Interesting. But who else has written an (inofficial) No. 00? ;)

Hmmm, Sibelius might qualify...if you count Kullervo and the Lemminkainen Legends...they sure look like symphonies to me. ;)

I still wonder whether he did that on purpose or not. Would've been quite a coincidence ... Saxbabe, too bad you didn't ask him when you met him!

I should've! It is a fascinating piece, and what a blast to play. I was lucky enough to get to play movements 1, 2 and 5 during high school, needless to say that was a great group for our age!

The piece seems to have a lot of inspirations, there's a few other cool nods I noticed before besides the RvW:

In Lothlorien (the beginning of the dance-like theme), he quotes the beginning of the theme in the middle of 1st mvmt of Bartok Concerto for Orchestra...and the last mvmt Hobbits, I always thought the grand stately theme was quite Elgar-ish. There's also a nice Wagner Flying Dutchman bit in the Khazad-Dum climax of mvmt 4! :)

A really interesting influence I ran across by total happenstance, was from a live LA Phil iTunes concert of contemporary music by Arvo Part and Dutch composer Louis Andriessen.

I was listening to Andriessen's landmark 70s piece De Staat, and lo and behold if I didn't find the end of Lothlorien, the pulsing notes that create dissonant harmonies and then fade away - it's very influenced by the beginning of that piece. And later in it there are other ideas which show up in some of his other writing, especially one bit De Meij used in his new 3rd Symphony. It makes sense - De Meij would've been a young music student in NL right when Andriessen was first popular and wrote the piece.

I made clips as it was such an interesting random find...

the Lothlorien bit

and the other one that is quite De Meij-ish

actual clips from:

Lothlorien, Planet Earth

And his 3rd Symphony has intentional quotes of Holst's Jupiter purposely in the last half, he explained in the pre-concert talk at the premiere that he was being a little devilish with that! ;) That one he did write for orchestra first, but has already made into a wind version and I found it has been released on CD...it sounds awesome, maybe better than the original for orchestra, I will definitely have to get this CD...

Sound clips here, scroll down to where it says "World Premiere"

I have myself been a member of the concert band for the last 10 years (percussion section, mostly timpani). I adore concert bands (especially the really good ones, such as Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra etc.) and the original concert music written for them (Johan de Meij, Jan Van der Roost, Robert W. Smith and maaany more, I've already elaborated on this topic on some other thread), which I am happy enough to be able to perform on a regular basis.

We could almost have a "band music" thread as many of us are running around here! There some amazing pieces being written for winds and some really awesome professional groups out there like Tokyo Kosei and Dallas Wind Symphony, and the military bands in the various countries, I plan to keep playing in a community ensemble somewhere after school, it's just too much fun.

There are more and more popping up everywhere, two interesting ones here in Texas that devote a lot of playing to film music, Mark and John went to see one of them recently, the Austin Wind Symphony (link) and there is another cool one around Dallas called the Metropolitan Winds that has released a JW CD (link) and even had Bruce Broughton down as a guest for one of their concerts where they did Silverado :o Very cool!

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I still wonder whether he did that on purpose or not. Would've been quite a coincidence ... ;)

Can't be a coincidence. He either did it on purpose or just go the phrase in his head and didn't realise it wasn't by him. But two composers independently writing symphonies, one about London and the other about Lothlorien, and ending up with the same music is... unlikely. :sleepy:

I must admit I'm thinking along the very same lines. :P

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Hmmm, Sibelius might qualify...if you count Kullervo and the Lemminkainen Legends...they sure look like symphonies to me. ;)

Heh. I do see Sibelius as a bit of a Nordic version of Bruckner. :)

and the last mvmt Hobbits, I always thought the grand stately theme was quite Elgar-ish.

Always suggested Andrew Lloyd Webber to me, somehow. :rolleyes:

There's also a nice Wagner Flying Dutchman bit in the Khazad-Dum climax of mvmt 4! :D

Interesting, that's something I never noticed - and I can sing along with at least half of the Holländer...

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  • 4 weeks later...

This past Saturday, one of better Slovenian amateur concert bands performed a film music concert (MAG-SI also attended). The program was as follows:

Vinko Štrucl

Papyros

Chaplin, Delange, Willson, Phillips, Parsons

Charles Chaplin Selection for Concert Band

arr. Marcel Peeters

John Barry

Out of Africa

arr. Johan de Meij

John Williams

Indiana Jones Selection

arr. Hans van der Heide

Hans Zimmer

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

arr. Jay Bocook

John Williams

Star Wars Saga

arr. Johan de Meij

David Arnold

Independence Day

arr. Ton van Grevenbroek

Conti, Barry, Norman

James Bond 007 selection

arr. Johan de Meij

Goldsmith, McCarthy

Star Trek through the Generations

arr. Hans van der Heide

It was a fine evening. Pics can be seen here.

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Alien is finished.....since I can't publish it or earn any money from it, if anyone knows a Brass band (as in Cornets, Flugel, Trombones, Baritones, Euphoniums, Tenor Horns and Basses + pecussion.....none of this silly Wind Band nonsense!), that would like a copy for just the cost of copying, postage and packaging, please put them in touch with me through this board! :)

Greg

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Too bad we don't have any brass bands in Slovenia, only "these silly wind bands" ... :(:P I'd really love to hear that arrangement of yours ... :)

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