2 E-flat clarinets
2 alto clarinets
2 bass clarinets
2 alto saxophones
2 tenor saxophones
1 baritone sax
4 French horns
6 flutes ( doubling piccolo )
1 English horn
1 alto clarinet
2 bass clarinets
4 alto saxophones
2 tenor saxophones
1 baritone sax
1 bass sax
4 French horns
The Sousa Bands ( actually he had not one but many different bands), are often cited in band-instrumentation arguments. Little criticism of his band make-up is levelled with the exception of two points: many regard his use of only one or two alto clarinets as insufficient for the size band he had-others say that any alto clarinets at all are too many. Secondly, he is occasionally criticized for having many more clarinets and cornets on the first part than on the second and third parts. His argument against the string bass in the concert band has now become classic:
If a string bass, why not a cello? And once granted the cello, why not the viola and divided violins? In fact, why not become a symphony orchestra at once?" Sousa had a distaste for the E-flat clarinet also- "I never had an E-flat clarinet that didn't foul up in certain keys, so I decided that from now on I would limit the use of an E-flat clarinet to just four measures, once every leap year!"
The band has suffered throughout its existence from an unstable instrumentation. The fluegal horn, saxhorn, valve trombone (often written in treble clef), C melody saxophone, E flat alto (peck) horn, B flat soprano saxophone, E flat soprano clarinet, E flat cornet, bass saxophone, all have come and gone. But the significant change has been in the concept of what the band is, which in turn has affected greatly the nature of musical arrangements for bands.
For many years the band was thought of in "town band" terms; that is, a small but noisy group that existed primarily to give concerts on hot summer nights in the town park, and that played a diet of music consisting of novelties, light overtures, marches, and an occasional dazzling solo. Nobody took it seriously.
Following World War I and on into the 1940's the band took on a new dimension. However, it could not shake some of its old habits, one being that it must still produce a big enough sound to be heard well outdoors. Because good original compositions for band were lacking, the repertoire became heavy with transcriptions-"Elsa's Procession to the Cathedral" from Wagner's Lohengrin. and many more. This style of band, which is probably still the dominant one in secondary schools, calls for many players, preferbly nearly a hundred. When the band is good, the effect is that of a mighty organ. Because of its strong and senuous tone, it is at its best with transcriptions of 19th century masterpieces and Bach organ music.
Since World War II another concept has appeared in bands and band music. It strongly favors original compositions, which of course are largely by contemporary composers. Since these composers live in the 20th century, they do not write for the romantic sound of yesteryear. Their music calls for few players and a less lavish use of instruments. No longer is it interested in the lush, rolling effects of the generation before; rather, it is more intellectual and detached in its approach.
"Elsa's Procession to the Cathedral" is intended for a big band, and is not as effective when done with 45 players. And the reverse is true: Persichetti's "Divertimento for Band" is not as effective when played by one hundred players. It is not a question of which style is "right," because both have musical value when properly used, but rather getting the right music with the right concept.
25 First clarinets
10 Second clarinets
6 Third clarinets
4 Alto clarinets
4 Bass clarinets
4 Alto saxophones
2 Tenor saxophones
2 Baritone saxophones
2 Bass saxophones
10 Sousaphones and tubas
1 Contra bassoon
1 English horn
1 Small drum
1 Bass drum
40 First violins
30 Second violins
12 Double basses
1 Contra bassoon
1 English horn
1 Small drum
1 Bass drum
I will not debate the challenges of leading a band rather an orchestra, but I do not know any serious composer who has not found composing for band to be the greatest challenge, especially during the orchestration process. It requires great care and more to achieve transparency of texture, contrast, and balance in band scoring. For example, I spent four weeks composing "Elegy ", but orchestrating the work took over fourteen weeks. Although there are many fine orchestration teachers and texts, the best teachers of orchestration are not professors or textbooks, but masterpieces written by great composers throughout history. Indeed, music libraries make it possible for any of us to study orchestration with the world's greatest composers. Band conductors and composers are responsible for the future of band composition, conducting, and aesthetic qualities our medium deserves and needs..
Elegy has been rated a 6 in difficulty (highest level). Most difficult are the exposed solo passages, trumpet and horn tessitura, and maintaining intensity of tone and expression during extended phrases at contrasting dynamic levels. Although the work's tempos are slow (mm quarter = 56-80) throughout, there are many metronomic changes and subtle fluctuations in tempo that are crucial to the pacing of the work.
The composer has suggested accurate releases throughout Elegy. The orchestration is "economized" by using one and two players per part at certain designated places. Mr Camphouse is looking for enhanced textural transparency and clarity of musical line. He strives to achieve serenity in the last eight bars of the work.
Chorale and Shaker Dance, John Zdechlik (grade 4).Born in Minneapolis in 1937, John Zdechlik holds degrees in music education as well as composition and theory from the University of Minnesota and currently teaches and compose in his native state. A student of Paul Fetler and Dominick Argento, Zdechlik has written several large orchestral works and numerous pieces for concert band, Chorale and Shaker Dance, published in 1972.
Requiring full instrumentation and capable performers in every section, the work presents a progression of instrumental timbres and chord textures. Zdechlik constructs complex sonorities through multi-part writing but presents thematic material in phrases of single note entries; careful counting from performers and confident cueing from conductors is essential to a clean performance. Short solos for flute, clarinet, saxophone, and trumpet as well as important section entrance for horn, trombone, and tuba keeps all players alert. Zdechlik crowns the work with creative percussion writing that ranges from rudimental snare drumming to a sparkling mallet part; demanding timpani writing drives the work to its dramatic conclusion. Although meter changes and syncopation abound, the music has a logical, dramatic flow that impresses audiences and performers alike.
Most of the themation material is based on the colonial hymn tune Simple Gifts; the chorale, which opens in the woodwinds, returns as a counter melody, and later serves as a rhythmic chordal accompaniment to a snare drum solo. Finally sustained brasses play the chorale theme as the background to a fiery woodwind obbligato taken from the original Shaker hymn melody.
Commissioned by the Jefferson High School Band, Bloomington, Minnesota, Earl Benson, conductor, Chorale and Shaker Dance has become a standard in the band repertoire since its premiere at the national convention of the Music Educators National Conference in 1972. The work contains two basic ideas: the Chorale, which is simple, single phrased melody, and the Shaker song, "The Gift to be Simple." These melodies are used in alteration, combination, and with extreme rhythmic variation throughout the composition.
Kaddish, W. Francis McBeth (grade 3). Kaddish was commissioned by Howard Dunn and the Richardson (Texas) High School Band.
When Dunn called me about a commission,I told him that I was very despondent over the illness of James Clifton Williams (one of my college teachers) and that our telephone communication that week (I had been calling every few weeks during that last hospital stay) was such that I knew it was to be our last. I asked Dunn if he would allow me to write a work in Jim's memory.
When approaching McBeth's work, the first step is to find the scale. The scale, of course, is the basic building material of any musical work and will tell you about the basic style that is desired. To find the scale that Kaddish is built on, go to the first non-percussion note of the work in measure 3. It starts on C in the top voice and progress upward C,D flat, E flat, and F. The bottom voice starts on the same C and progresses C, B flat, A flat, G flat and F. The outer voices both start on C and end on F, but look what they form. The upper voice forms the first four notes of the Phrygian scale (ascending) on C, and the lower voice forms the first five notes of the Phrygian scale (descending) on F. In the first two measures of the work the chimes state the minor second (C-D flat),which is characteristic Phrygian interval of the motive. In measure three it starts with the original statement. It is stated three times, simultaneously ascending and descending plus harmonization. These three statements set the tone for the entire work. They cannot be played using a metronome tempo. McBeth states that the most subtle of rubato must be used in the second measure of each statement with a little more in the third. These are tempo variances that cannot be written the music because if written they would be overdone. A conductor either feels the correct rubato here or he doesn't. There is no in between. The crescendo is never done enough in the third measure of each statement. Nuance must be exaggerated in all music, but it is imperative in romantic music. You must approach this work with your best understanding of romanticism, and it should be readily seen by your physical attitude on the podium.Let the band know the intent of the work before any rehearsing is started.
This has been my approach in teaching this work to my bands in Illinois and California. My Illinois groups received superior ratings in performing this work. Remember that the volume variance are desperately important to achieve the dramatic effect that is necessary. This work is a combination of all the emotions that surround the death of a friend-cries, shouts, resignation, and sorrow-but the work should end as an alleluia, an affirmation of life. An excellent composition for band!
Jared Spears is a composer with the unique ability to write music for bands on levels, from elementary to college. He is professor of music at Arkansas state University in Jonesboro, teaching composition, orchestration, theory, and history. As resident composer at the university, Spears received its outstanding Faculty Member Award in 1980.
Spears's best known works include the KIMBERLY OVERTURE, MOMENTATIONS, WIND RIVER PORTRAIT, ALLELUIAS, MEDITATION and FESTIVA, and CANTICLES. In addition to a busy composing schedule, he appears at other universities as a guest lecturer and conducts band festivals, camps, and clinics in the United States, Canada, and Norway.
An interview with Spears:
WERE THERE ANY TEACHERS OR OTHER MUSICIANS WHO WERE PARTICULARLY IMPORTANT IN YOUR OWN MUSICAL DEVELOPMENT?
"Fred Schmoyer, the band director at Arlington Heights High School actually got me to write my first piece for band. Later, at Northern Illinois University, Maurice Weed got me interested in the music of Debussy, Roy Harris, Stravinsky, and other 20th-century composers. Blythe Owen, my composition teacher at the Cosmopolitan School of Music in Chicago, grounded me in basic forms and developed my perspective of the craft. By the time I got to Northwestern University to work on a doctorate, I found that I had just scratched the surface of the possibilities of sound and form. I was fortunate to have two different composition teachers there. Anthony Donato made me write in the style of time--twelve-tone, free atonality, and so on -- but he always kept me thinking within practical, not outlandish limits, for which I am grateful. My other teacher was Alan Stout, who introduced me to the music of Penderecki, Ligeti, and Lutoslawski. From Stout I learned to explore the unknown and search for sounds and shapes I had never known before."
WHO AMONG YOUR COLLEAGUES HAS INFLUENCED YOU AS A COMPOSER?
"Several years ago , Alfred Reed and I spent two weeks together working at a band camp in Saskatchewan, Canada. Being still somewhat green in the profession, I was awed by this fine composer and his astounding storehouse of experience, concepts, information, and solution. During the evenings and weekends we would wander through the hills surrounding the camp, and I would ask him questions about music and for advice on my own career. He unselfishly shared his knowledge, and I soaked up every word.
Persichetti was a rarity among composers of his time, writing many works for band while others wrote one or two. Conductors are indebted to him for his efforts during the struggle for professional recognition of the band.
Persichetti was born in Philadelphia in 1915 and studied theory, piano, and organ. By the age of 16 he was already a church organist in Philadelphia. He received his undergraduate training at Combs College and advanced degrees at the Philadelphia Conservatory, studying composition with Paul Nordoff and Roy Harris and conducting with Fritz Reiner. His commissions included works for the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Koussevitsky Foundation.
In an article by Rudy Shackelford for the 1982 spring issue of Perspectives of New Music Persichetti was asked how he began writing for band and replied ,
My earliest works were stimulated by the sound of winds. In 1926 my grade-school chamber group - oboe, horn, and bassoon (the Angelucci brothers), plus soprano sax, violin, and piano - performed arrangements of hotel and symphony music. Then, in 1929, came my Op.1, Serenade for Ten Winds and in 1934 the Pastoral for Woodwinds Quintet. I'd been composing in a log cabin school house in El Dorado, Kansas, during the summer of 1949, working with some lovely woodwind figures, accentuated by choirs of aggressive brasses and percussion beating. I soon realized the strings weren't going to enter, and my Divertimento began to take shape.
His attitude toward the band, a word he did not avoid using, solidified in his early years. In a 1964 article on his Symphony No.6 for Band that appeared in the Journal of Band Research he said,
"One should no longer apologize for the word (band). Band music is virtually the only kind of music in America today (outside the pop field), which can be introduced, accepted, put to immediate use, and become a staple of the literature in a short time."
The impact of Marching Bands on our 20th century society was evident when a few weeks ago we welcomed home our troops from Irag. Football games, parades, celebrations, and in general all events with pomp and grandeur will showcase the marching band. My emphasis in this article has been to acknowledge the growth and emerging importance of concert music for this medium.
As technology continues to improve, the instruments of the band will undoubtedly change. The interperative skills of directors and conductors will have to become more refined. More new band music is constantly being exposed to enthusiastic audiences all over the world. The excitement a concert band can create is continuing to become addictive.
Futhermore, it is not wishful dreaming to foresee a pops season for professional concert bands in our cities just as the symphony patrons enjoy. Estimates show that there are between 30,000-40,000 bands in this country. If only 20% of them joined in this promotion, it would make a powerful impact.............
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