Concert band

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A full concert band--Indiana Wind Symphony in concert, 2014 Concert Band.jpg
A full concert band—Indiana Wind Symphony in concert, 2014

A concert band, also called wind ensemble, symphonic band, wind symphony, wind orchestra, wind band, symphonic winds, symphony band, or symphonic wind ensemble, is a performing ensemble consisting of members of the woodwind, brass, and percussion families of instruments, and occasionally including the double bass or bass guitar. On rare occasions, additional non-traditional instruments may be added to such ensembles such as piano, harp, synthesizer, or electric guitar.

Woodwind instrument Family of musical wind instruments

Woodwind instruments are a family of musical instruments within the more general category of wind instruments. Common examples include flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, and saxophone. There are two main types of woodwind instruments: flutes and reed instruments. What differentiates these instruments from other wind instruments is the way in which they produce their sound. All woodwinds produce sound by splitting an exhaled air stream on a sharp edge, such as a reed or a fipple. A woodwind may be made of any material, not just wood. Common examples include brass, silver, cane, as well as other metals such as gold and platinum. Occasionally woodwinds are made out of earthen materials, especially ocarinas.

Brass instrument class of musical instruments

A brass instrument is a musical instrument that produces sound by sympathetic vibration of air in a tubular resonator in sympathy with the vibration of the player's lips. Brass instruments are also called labrosones, literally meaning "lip-vibrated instruments".

Percussion instrument Type of musical instrument that produces a sound by being hit

A percussion instrument is a musical instrument that is sounded by being struck or scraped by a beater including attached or enclosed beaters or rattles struck, scraped or rubbed by hand or struck against another similar instrument. The percussion family is believed to include the oldest musical instruments, following the human voice.

Contents

A concert band's repertoire includes original wind compositions, transcriptions/arrangements of orchestral compositions, light music, and popular tunes. Though the instrumentation is similar, a concert band is distinguished from the marching band in that its primary function is as a concert ensemble. The standard repertoire for the concert band does, however, contain concert marches.

Wind instrument Class of musical instruments

A wind instrument is a musical instrument that contains some type of resonator, in which a column of air is set into vibration by the player blowing into a mouthpiece set at or near the end of the resonator. The pitch of the vibration is determined by the length of the tube and by manual modifications of the effective length of the vibrating column of air. In the case of some wind instruments, sound is produced by blowing through a reed; others require buzzing into a metal mouthpiece.

Light music British musical style of "light" orchestral music

Light music is a less-serious form of Western classical music, which originated in the 18th and 19th centuries and continues today. Its heyday was in the mid‑20th century. The style is through-composed, usually shorter orchestral pieces and suites designed to appeal to a wider context and audience than more sophisticated forms such as the concerto, the symphony and the opera.

Marching band company of instrumental musicians

A marching band is a group in which instrumental musicians perform while marching, often for entertainment or competition. Instrumentation typically includes brass, woodwind, and percussion instruments. Most marching bands wear a uniform, often of a military style, that includes an associated organization's colors, name or symbol. Most high school marching bands, and some college marching bands, are accompanied by a color guard, a group of performers who add a visual interpretation to the music through the use of props, most often flags, rifles, and sabres.

Origins

During the 19th century, large ensembles of wind and percussion instruments in the British and American traditions existed mainly in the form of the military band for ceremonial and festive occasions, and the works performed consisted mostly of marches. The only time wind bands were used in a concert setting comparable to that of a symphony orchestra was when transcriptions of orchestral or operatic pieces were arranged and performed, as there were comparatively few original concert works for a large wind ensemble.

Early British popular music

Early British popular music, in the sense of commercial music enjoyed by the people, can be seen to originate in the 16th and 17th centuries with the arrival of the broadside ballad as a result of the print revolution, which were sold cheaply and in great numbers until the 19th century. Further technological, economic and social changes led to new forms of music in the 19th century, including the brass band, which produced a popular and communal form of classical music. Similarly, the music hall sprang up to cater for the entertainment of new urban societies, adapting existing forms of music to produce popular songs and acts. In the 1930s, the influence of American Jazz led to the creation of British dance bands, who provided a social and popular music that began to dominate social occasions and the radio airwaves.

The music of the United States reflects the country's pluri-ethnic population through a diverse array of styles. It is a mixture of music influenced by West African, Irish, Scottish and mainland European cultures among others. The country's most internationally renowned genres are jazz, blues, country, bluegrass, rock, rhythm and blues, soul, ragtime, hip hop, doo wop, pop, techno, house, folk music, disco, boogaloo, reggaeton, and salsa. American music is heard around the world. Since the beginning of the 20th century, some forms of American popular music have gained a near-global audience.

Military band class of musical ensembles

A military band is a group of personnel that performs musical duties for military functions, usually for the armed forces. A typical military band consists mostly of wind and percussion instruments. The conductor of a band commonly bears the title of Bandmaster or Director of Music. Ottoman military bands are thought to be the oldest variety of military marching bands in the world, dating from the 13th century.

Development of the wind ensemble

Prior to the 1950s, wind ensembles varied in the combinations of instruments included. The modern "standard" instrumentation of the wind ensemble was more or less established by Frederick Fennell at Eastman School of Music as the Eastman Wind Ensemble in 1952 after the model of the orchestra: a pool of players from which a composer can select in order to create different sonorities. [1] The wind ensemble could be said to be modeled on the wind section of a "Wagner orchestra," an important difference being the addition of saxophones and baritone/euphonium. (The American Wind Symphony Orchestra, which uses neither of these, adheres more strictly to the "expanded orchestral wind section" model.) While many people consider the wind ensemble to be one player on a part, this is only practical in true chamber music. Full band pieces usually require doubling or tripling of the clarinet parts, and six trumpeters is typical in a wind ensemble. According to Fennell, the wind ensemble was not revolutionary, but developed naturally out of the music that led him to the concept.[ citation needed ]

Frederick Fennell American conductor

Frederick Fennell was an internationally recognized conductor, and one of the primary figures in promoting the Eastman Wind Ensemble as a performing group. He was also influential as a band pedagogue, and greatly affected the field of music education in the USA and abroad. In Fennell's New York Times obituary, colleague Jerry F. Junkin was quoted as saying "He was arguably the most famous band conductor since John Philip Sousa."

Eastman School of Music American professional school of music

The Eastman School of Music is the professional school of music of the University of Rochester in Rochester, New York. It was established in 1921 by industrialist and philanthropist George Eastman.

The Eastman Wind Ensemble is an American concert band founded by Frederick Fennell at the Eastman School of Music in 1952. It is often credited with helping popularize wind band music. Through the group, Fennell redefined wind ensemble to refer to a specific kind of wind band with only one player per part, and focusing on original wind music rather than orchestral transcriptions. The Eastman Wind Ensemble has premiered over 150 works, including works by composers Bernard Rands and Joseph Schwantner.

Bands today

Military bands

A military band is a group of personnel that performs musical duties for military functions, usually for the armed forces. A typical military band consists mostly of wind and percussion instruments. The conductor of a band commonly bears the title of Bandmaster or Director of Music. Ottoman military bands are thought to be the oldest variety of military marching band in the world, dating from the 13th century. [2]

Conducting Directing a musical performance by way of visible gestures

Conducting is the art of directing a musical performance, such as an orchestral or choral concert. It has been defined as "the art of directing the simultaneous performance of several players or singers by the use of gesture." The primary duties of the conductor are to interpret the score in a way which reflects the specific indications in that score, set the tempo, ensure correct entries by ensemble members, and "shape" the phrasing where appropriate. Conductors communicate with their musicians primarily through hand gestures, usually with the aid of a baton, and may use other gestures or signals such as eye contact. A conductor usually supplements their direction with verbal instructions to their musicians in rehearsal.

Bandmaster

A bandmaster is the leader and conductor of a band, usually a concert band, military band, brass band or a marching band.

Ottoman military band Music Of Ottoman Empire

Ottoman military bands are thought to be the oldest variety of military marching bands in the world. Though they are often known by the word mahtar in West Europe, that word, properly speaking, refers only to a single musician in the band. In Ottoman, the band was generally known as mehterân, though those bands used in the retinue of a vizier or prince were generally known as mehterhane (مهترخانه, meaning roughly, "a gathering of mehters", the band as a whole is often termed mehter bölüğü, mehter takımı. In West Europe, the band's music is also often called Janissary music because the janissaries formed the core of the bands.

The military band should be capable of playing ceremonial and marching music, including the national anthems and patriotic songs of not only their own nation but others as well, both while stationary and as a marching band. Military bands also play a part in military funeral ceremonies.

National anthem Song that represents a country or sovereign state

A national anthem is generally a patriotic musical composition that evokes and eulogizes the history, traditions, and struggles of its people, recognized either by a nation's government as the official national song, or by convention through use by the people. The majority of national anthems are marches or hymns in style. The countries of Latin America, Central Asia, and Europe tend towards more ornate and operatic pieces, while those in the Middle East, Oceania, Africa, and the Caribbean use a more simplistic fanfare. Some countries that are devolved into multiple constituent states have their own official musical compositions for them ; their constituencies' songs are sometimes referred to as national anthems even though they are not sovereign states.

Funeral ceremony for a person who has died

A funeral is a ceremony connected with the final disposition of a corpse, such as a burial or cremation, with the attendant observances. Funerary customs comprise the complex of beliefs and practices used by a culture to remember and respect the dead, from interment, to various monuments, prayers, and rituals undertaken in their honor. Customs vary between cultures and religious groups. Common secular motivations for funerals include mourning the deceased, celebrating their life, and offering support and sympathy to the bereaved; additionally, funerals may have religious aspects that are intended to help the soul of the deceased reach the afterlife, resurrection or reincarnation.

There are two types of historical traditions in military bands. The first is military field music. This type of music includes bugles (or other natural instruments such as natural trumpets or natural horns), bagpipes, or fifes and almost always drums (see military drums). This type of music was used to control troops on the battlefield as well as for entertainment. Following the development of instruments such as the keyed trumpet or the saxhorn family of brass instruments, a second tradition of the brass and woodwind military band was formed.

A military band--The United States Army Band, 2012 DSC 8763 (7084102945).jpg
A military band—The United States Army Band, 2012

Professional bands

Professional concert bands not associated with the military appear across the globe, particularly in developed countries. However, most do not offer full-time positions. The competition to make it into one of these concert bands is incredibly high and the ratio of performers to entrants is narrowly small.[ citation needed ] Examples of professional non-military concert bands include:

Community bands

A community band is a concert band or brass band ensemble composed of volunteer (non-paid) amateur musicians in a particular geographic area. It may be sponsored by the local (municipal) government or self-supporting. These groups rehearse regularly and perform at least once a year. Some bands are also marching bands, participating in parades and other outdoor events. Although they are volunteer musical organizations, community bands may employ an Artistic Director (conductor) or various operational staff.

Notable community bands include:

U.S.A.

United Kingdom

Canada

Australia

New Zealand

Norway

Portugal

Finland

School bands

A school band is a group of student musicians who rehearse and perform instrumental music together. A school band is usually under the direction of one or more conductors (band directors). A school band consists of woodwind instruments, brass instruments and percussion instruments, although upper level bands may also have string basses or bass guitar.[ citation needed ]

In many traditional U.S. high schools, there are multiple band levels, distinguished by skill level or other factors. In such schools, an audition may be required to advance to further band levels, while the common level would be open to anyone. For example, in many U.S. high schools, Concert Band refers to the introductory level band. Symphonic Band is the title for the intermediate level band, and Wind Ensemble is the title for the advanced level band. [3]

Instrumentation

Instrumentation for the wind band is not completely standardized; composers will frequently add or omit parts. Instruments and parts in parentheses are less common but still often used; due to the fact that some bands are missing these instruments, important lines for these instruments are often cued into other parts.

Instrumentation differs depending on the type of ensemble. Middle school and high school bands frequently have more limited instrumentation and fewer parts (for example, no double reeds, or only two horn parts instead of four). This is both to limit the difficulty for inexperienced players and because schools frequently do not have access to the less common instruments.

The standard concert band will have several players on each part depending on available personnel and the preference of the conductor. A concert band can theoretically have as many as 200 members from a set of only 35 parts. The wind ensemble, on the other hand, will have very little doubling, if any; commonly, clarinets or flutes may be doubled, especially to handle any divisi passages, and others will have one player per part, as dictated by the requirements of a specific composition. Also, it is common to see two tubas playing the same part in a wind ensemble. Some people have observed that this distinction is antiquated and the terms "concert band," "wind ensemble," "wind symphony" and the like are now more or less interchangeable.

Complicated percussion parts are common in concert band pieces, often requiring many percussionists. Many believe this is a major difference between the orchestra (which usually lacks a large battery of percussion) and the concert band. While in older transcriptions and concert works, the timpani were treated as its own section as in the orchestra, today, in bands, the timpani are considered part of the percussion section. Consequently, the timpani player often will double on other percussion instruments.

Contemporary compositions often call on players to use unusual instruments or effects. For example, several pieces call on the use of a siren while others will ask players to play recorders, whirly tubes, or to sing, hum, snap, clap or even crinkle sheets of paper. The wind band's diverse instrumentation and large number of players makes it a very flexible ensemble, capable of producing a variety of sonic effects.

  1. In Bavarian wind music no piccolo is called for, as the E♭ clarinet substitutes for it.
  2. If called for, sometimes doubled by flute 2 or 3.
  3. If called for, sometimes doubled by oboe 2.
  4. If called for, sometimes doubled by bassoon 2.
  5. The contrabass clarinet part is usually provided in both B♭ and E♭ (contra-alto).
  6. In most cases, if a soprano saxophone is called for, it will replace the first alto saxophone part.
  7. In very rare cases, only a single alto saxophone will be called for (e.g., Holst Band Suites). However, this practice has generally been discontinued with two alto saxophones almost always called for.
  8. Trumpet and cornet parts have often been considered interchangeable and are sometimes separated into 3 or 4 cornet parts and two trumpet parts; however, this practice is no longer used and is usually only seen in older (e.g. pre-1950) works and transcriptions. Trumpets are almost always in B though Trumpets in E and C were used commonly in the heyday of professional concert bands.
  9. In older works, there was often a middle brass part that could be played on either alto (tenor) horn in E♭, French horn in F, or mellophone in F or E♭. There were usually copies of the parts in both F and E♭, for players to read off of based on the key of their instrument. Some modern publishers still include E♭ horn parts, which are the same as the F horn parts, except transposed to E♭. Alto (tenor) horns are especially common in Britain.
  10. Trombone parts will usually be divided into three parts with the first two parts (trombones 1, 2) played by tenor trombones and the third played by a bass trombone. However, in rare cases where a fourth part is required, either trombone 3 is a tenor and trombone 4 is a bass, or trombones 3 and 4 are both Bass. Scores will typically notate which one is preferred.
  11. If called for, sometimes doubled by trombone 1.
  12. The baritone/euphonium part is usually provided in both bass clef (concert pitch) and treble clef (in B, sounding a major 9th below written).
  13. Baritones and euphoniums are often used interchangeably, though some works have distinct parts for the two instruments. Most of the time when a composer writes for "baritone", they are actually thinking of the larger-bore euphonium.
  14. Many tuba parts are written in octaves. In that case the higher notes are to be played by the double bass, sounding an octave lower and therefore at the same pitch as the lower part. Sometimes two separate tuba parts will exist, for example for E and lower-pitched B basses.
  15. Percussion ensembles in concert bands can range from 2 to over 14 players. The type of percussion instruments used varies with the piece of music being played. Many percussion instruments from different cultures are used in a lot of contemporary concert band literature, especially in high school and college bands.
  16. Timpani will always be included in percussion parts. It will have its own staff.
  17. String bass parts are typically included in more advanced band pieces and larger ensemble instrumentation. The String Bass part is sometimes replaced with an electric bass guitar part in certain contemporary band pieces. Some high school and most college and professional bands will have a string bass/electric bass player in the ensemble.
A high school concert band--BHS Band in performance, 2013 Concertband.jpg
A high school concert band—BHS Band in performance, 2013

Repertoire

Development of a repertoire

Until early in the 20th century, there was little music written specifically for the wind band, which led to an extensive repertoire of pieces transcribed from orchestral works, or arranged from other sources. However, as the wind band moved out of the sole domain of the military marching ensemble and into the concert hall, it has gained favor with composers, and now many works are being written specifically for the concert band and the wind ensemble. While today there are composers who write exclusively for band, it is worth noting that many composers famous for their work in other genres have given their talents to composition for wind bands as well. This is especially true in Japan, where an enormous market can be found for wind band compositions, which is largely due to commissions by the All-Japan Band Association and leading professional ensembles such as the Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra and Osaka Municipal Symphonic Band, as well as the Kappa Kappa Psi and Tau Beta Sigma Commissioning Program, the longest-running commissioning series for wind band in the United States.

Prominent composers for concert band

Early to middle 20th century

Some of the most important names in establishing literature written specifically for concert band in the early and middle 20th century were:

Late 20th century to the present

Over the last fifty years, many composers have written major new works for wind ensemble. Some of these composers have risen to the forefront as being particularly important in the concert band's development. Among these include:

Important concert band literature

Competitions

Throughout much of their history, wind bands have been promoted through regional and national music competitions and festivals. Other large competitions include the World Music Competition, held in the Netherlands; and the Southeast Asia Concert Band Festival, held in Hong Kong.

Band associations

Some notable band associations include:

See also

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References

  1. Frederick Fennell, 90, Innovative Band Conductor, Dies
  2. Turkish Cultural Foundation. "Military (mehter)" . Retrieved 2013-08-09.
  3. http://www.riderband.org/concert--symphonic-bands-and-wind-ensemble.html