19 Jul

Studying a brass band

What is a brass band?

brass band is a large ensemble made up completely of brass instruments. A brass band often haspercussion. Many brass bands have entered a Sydney recording studio or a Sydney voice over studio in various formats.

The British style brass band

The traditional British brass band consists of 28 players including percussion. Consequently a brass band typically has the following line up:

  • The soprano cornet is in E♭.
  • There are 9 Cornets in B♭. Cornets have separate parts for ‘Solo’, ‘Repiano’, 2nd and 3rd cornets. There are 4 players on the ‘Solo’ part. 1 Repiano, two 2nd, and two 3rd.
  • 1 Flugal horn in B♭ (notated on the same part as the ‘Repiano’ in some older music).
  • 3 Tenor horns in E♭ (called Solo, 1st and 2nd).
  • Baritone Horns are in B♭.
  • 2 Tenor trombones are in Bb.
  • 1 Bass trombone is in concert pitch. The bass trombone is the only brass instrument in the band notated in Concert Pitch (C) on Bass Clef.
  • Euphoniums are in B♭. These instruments usually play the same part with divisi sections.
  • Tubas are in Eb and Bb.
  • Percussion players are in every brass band.  >There are 2 or more timpani, glockenspiel, snare drum, triangle, cymbls, a drum kit and more.

Almost all of the instruments are conical-bore. Above all, this gives the classic British-style brass  bright, yet mellow tone. The two instrument exeptions are Trombone and Baritone. Furthermore, all notation except for Bass Trombone and percussion are written in Treble Clef. Similarly, the alto horn in E♭ is more commonly named the tenor horn in British bands. A good Sydney voice over studio will use the right mics and equipment to capture the mellow tones of a British Brass Band.

Competitions throughout the country

The brass band tradition in Britain has attained a very high standard because it is asscociated with many competitions. These competitions usually revolve around local communities and work groups. In the 1930s brass bands reached a pincale with around 20 000 bands operating in the country. British-style brass bands ar not just restricted to Great Britain. These bands are widespread throughout  Northern Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Norway and many European countries.  They are also found in North America. In all of these countries there are anual competitions, hence keeping the standards quite high. Furthermore, they quite often enter a Sydney recording studio to lay down this traditional style.

Salvation army bands

In Sydney Australia The Salvation Army have various bands throughout the región.  The Salvos have employed brass bands since the 1870,s. Salvos bands continue to be an integral part of that branch of the Church. The most famous Salvation Army brass band is The International Staff Band which is located in London.

Salvation Army bands have different sizes and formats because of the limited and varied availability of members. Some bands only have 5 or 6 members. The bands still have the same basic instrumentation of Cornets, baritones, tenor horns and trombones. Sometimes they have a euphonium.  The style and line up varies depending on the recording studio.

Balkan brass bands

The Balkans have their own distinctive Brand of brass bands that began in the mid 19th century.  Military bands in Turkey would compose and arrange folk music into the brass band format. Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Albania, Bulgaria and Northern Greece all have these types of brass bands. The music is faster and more frantic than the british style. A percussion instrument called the Kolo accompanies Balkan bands. Goran Bregović and Boban Marković Orkestar are two very popular and highly recorded Balkan brass bands.

Fanfare orchestras

Fanfare orchestras opérate in mainland Europe in France, Belgium, Netherlands and Germany. They differ from the British bands in that they have saxophones in the instrumentation. Fanfare orchestras have their origin in military music. There are also civilian fanfare orchestras.

New Orleans style brass bands

Brass bands are also a central part of New Orleans culture. They stem back to the military bands of the French blending with the sounds of the African workers.

Tuba, trombones, trumpets, clarinet/saxophone, snare drum, and bass drum make up the band. New Orleans brass bands are portable and flexible. This has allowed them to move from the streets and into Ballrooms, concert halls, and various festivals.

Brief History of New Orleans Brass bands:

There were mixed-race Creoles and sometimes coloured people who had freedom. As a result, Brass bands came together naturally. In the first years after Emancipation in 1865, the first black brass bands began entertaining at events. The events were funerals, baseball games, and other festivals. Consequently, by 1900 bands such as Excelsior and Onward were popular.

Furthermore, the New Orleans brass band was mixed with a new musical form that began around the turn of the century. Jazz music was derived from ragtime, blues, spirituals, and marche. It focussed on improvisation,, rhythmic syncopation and repetition.  The brass band was a formative influence on; Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet, Similarly, jazz bands, including those of Buddy Bolden and Kid Ory, doubled as brass bands. Jazz bands sometimes substituted the rhythm section of piano, bass, and banjo for tuba and drums. As a result, jazz performance styles influenced the New Orleans brass band.

Above all, the Sydney band Hot Potatoe have made the style popular in Australia. Hot Potatoe have recorded various times in a Sydney Recording studio or Sydney Voice over Studio.