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What I have noticed particularly in older transcriptions
is the tendency to "over write" and make things more
thickly scored than they need to be. I think this comes from the desire
to give everyone "lots to play" It may be necessary to have lots
of doubling of parts for lower level bands but it shouldn't be the
rule for more advanced writing. Brass can be very exciting for Bach
as exemplified by the German Brass recordings.( If you have a DVD player
get "GErman Brass goes Bach" for a very fine rendition of Brandenburg #3
and other Bach works--simply amazing playing especially the piccolo trumpet)
Because the brass band can have a homogeneous sound from BBb to Sop it is
particularly well suited to transcribing Baroque and earlier works.
Certainly the better bands are agile enough to play what is required.
In essence the brass band is like a "consort" of instruments just as
a "Consort of viols" or a "consort of recorders" ensemble would be.
The key ingredient might be to lose the 19th century style of arranging
that is centred on the Principal cornet, Solo Euph, Solo Horn , solo
with oompah for the rest. There is no reason not to use thinner textures and
more varied scoring. Why score a passage for doubled Euph Bari and Trombone
when 2 Baritones give the proper texture?
For Bach Brandenburg #2 and other concerto grosso works you have a
small group of soloists contrasted with a larger Repieno Group. If the
tendency to overplay can be avoided and with jusicious scoring the result
satisfying. JUst do not try it in F Concert at A=440. The tromba part is
hard enough on Pic. In Eb concert you would need a really good sop to
do it. In C concert the Sop would play in written G and the part would
exactly the same as it does on Bb Piccolo trumpet which except for range
is very playable. In actual fact the Baroque A= 315 is closer to modern
Db so C is not far off.
Graham J. Young B.Mus B.Ed
Hamilton Musician Services
NJH Sheet Music, bandsman.co.uk/music.htm,
Prima Arts, quality music for quality bands, www.prima-arts.co.uk,
Toot-Sweet, instrument repairers, www.toot-sweet.co.uk,
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