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Author Topic: Brass Band Woes  (Read 10666 times)
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MoominDave

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« Reply #60 on: Jan 16, 2017, 10:19AM »

Sunk by an early draw in a huge section. Meh. Decent performance bar a couple of loose bars, which is what matters. 10th / 24 - could have been a lot better.

We had some jolly fun though! And no-one takes it to heart in these circumstances. And the result, while well below the expected par, isn't disastrous against a strong field of bands.
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« Reply #61 on: Jan 17, 2017, 02:11AM »

4 Bars Rest had us at 3rd. The adjudicators put us 6th. So a meh from us, too.

Great entertainment though. And awful beer. Butlins at its best.
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« Reply #62 on: Mar 19, 2017, 04:37PM »

No woes here today. 1st place out of 17 in the London and Southern Counties 1st section regional qualifier, promotion back to the championship section, and a trip to the 1st section national final in September.  Happy and exhausting day.

Recording here if anyone's interested. Me on bass trombone.

Thought I ought to update this thread to point out to non-bandy people that things happen at contests that aren't woes sometimes...
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« Reply #63 on: Mar 19, 2017, 05:02PM »

Sounds good, though I don't understand this long slow intro. But it sounds crisp, in tune, in time. It is solid.
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« Reply #64 on: Mar 19, 2017, 07:19PM »

I have a friend who was amused with an observation of a "technically oriented performance" on his technical cornet solo.  Bad dog.  No Biscuits.
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MoominDave

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« Reply #65 on: Mar 20, 2017, 02:37AM »

Sounds good, though I don't understand this long slow intro. But it sounds crisp, in tune, in time. It is solid.

It's an interesting piece of music, though not musically the deepest one out there for band. There are a lot of attractive elements in it, but they're all on the surface. If that makes any sense? Some pieces you rehearse for weeks for a contest, and find that you're still getting new insights in the final rehearsals - this one one understands entirely straight away. Which is not to denigrate it - good music doesn't have to be either deep or cryptic.

It isn't explicitly programmatic, but the inspiration for it hints at the reason for the opening you mention - the work's alternative title is "Aotearoa" (which means "The Land of the Long White Cloud" in Maori), the name given to the islands of New Zealand by the first Maori settlers when they arrived by boat. The long slow intro is quite easy to hear as a seascape, with undulating waves etc.
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« Reply #66 on: Mar 20, 2017, 03:08AM »

Well done Dave, and congrats on the promotion!
I think this piece gets more pencil marks on it than most!
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« Reply #67 on: Mar 20, 2017, 03:26AM »

Thought I ought to update this thread to point out to non-bandy people that things happen at contests that aren't woes sometimes...

I'm bringing back the woes!

4th section last Sunday at the Scottish, both 4BR and Bandsman had us down for 1st and both had the same top 3 so logic dictates that we came 5th! Reading the crit didn't help either so one feels a bit shafted especially when the band that finished 4th wasn't thought of being very good by 4BR and Bandsman.

I was speaking to Alan Fernie about it and he said Hawick nailed it but I think they came 2nd last.

He noted that across the sections it seemed the bands who went tempo di teararse did better!

The joys of being involved in this world!
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« Reply #68 on: Mar 20, 2017, 07:27AM »

I must admit all this is making me glad I don't get involved in brass bands anymore. :-) Never really could get my head round music as a competition medium.  Not knowing when you'd be playing and having to spend all day in one place for a 15 minute performance used to do my head in. :-)

Last thing I played in a band though was "Land of the Long White Cloud" at the Scottish champs in 1995. :-)

Ronnie
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« Reply #69 on: Mar 20, 2017, 09:08AM »

I would like to offer huge congratulations to Dave, especially as this win gains you promotion to the Championship section again.

For myself, I can only add to the woes, after a pretty disastrous result at the South West contest last weekend for Weston Brass.
We thought we'd played a blinder and so did everyone else, we were feeling extremely pleased with ourselves and our conductor even cracked a smile, but we only came 13th out of 17 bands.

Why do we do it?  Beats me.  I was talking to someone who left the band a couple of years ago who is now missing it all and wants to come back!
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« Reply #70 on: Mar 20, 2017, 03:07PM »

I must admit all this is making me glad I don't get involved in brass bands anymore. :-) Never really could get my head round music as a competition medium.  Not knowing when you'd be playing and having to spend all day in one place for a 15 minute performance used to do my head in. :-)

Last thing I played in a band though was "Land of the Long White Cloud" at the Scottish champs in 1995. :-)

Ronnie


Hi Ronnie I'm probably going to make you feel a bit old by saying in 95 I was only in 2nd year and had been playing for about 18 months!

I used to do the county brass band but always preferred orchestra/wind band...still do in fact but this keeps me playing and is a good social. Not many regular orchestra gigs round Edinburgh and I only really get the call if the usual player can't do it.

1st - 4th section are pre drawn now so at least there's less hanging about. It's a strange beast though and impossible to predict how the judges will react. You walk off stage feeling great then get hit a bad ranking. We're all masochists!!

Ross



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« Reply #71 on: Mar 20, 2017, 03:18PM »

I can definitely say I know the feel, to a degree ... Couple of years ago I was involved in a youth big band- GREAT high school and first-year-college players, it was a fantastic experience for me. We were heading to a competition in winter and were playing "Concerto for Cootie" and "57th Street Mambo" (great tune, look that one up if you haven't heard it!). We'd practiced like mad, and it sounded GOOD in the rehearsals. Got to the performance venue, were warming up, one of the trumpet got the bright idea that we shouldn't tune and that we should just go on. Instructor goes along with it, given how good we were sounding in the rehearsal room.


WHAT. A. BOMB. The instructor counted up a bit too fast - things were out of tune, it was just a colossal failure. No clue whyt we did that. We bombed it, more or less, if my memory recalls.
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« Reply #72 on: Mar 21, 2017, 05:29AM »


Hi Ronnie I'm probably going to make you feel a bit old by saying in 95 I was only in 2nd year and had been playing for about 18 months!

I used to do the county brass band but always preferred orchestra/wind band...still do in fact but this keeps me playing and is a good social. Not many regular orchestra gigs round Edinburgh and I only really get the call if the usual player can't do it.

1st - 4th section are pre drawn now so at least there's less hanging about. It's a strange beast though and impossible to predict how the judges will react. You walk off stage feeling great then get hit a bad ranking. We're all masochists!!

Ross

Don't worry, I know I'm old.  My first contest was the 1978(?) Scottish Champs with Vaughan Williams "Variations".  I see my old band are looking for a bass trombone but I'm NOT tempted to go back. :-)

I have a regular orchestral gig in Edinburgh that needs more trombones of the tenor variety.   The Edinburgh Orchestral Ensemble were also looking for a tenor for their concert on the 25th March !

Ronnie
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« Reply #73 on: Mar 21, 2017, 07:26AM »

Well done Dave, and congrats on the promotion!
I think this piece gets more pencil marks on it than most!

Thanks Stephen! Our mutual friends Nigel and Steph were there, was nice to see them again.

I would like to offer huge congratulations to Dave, especially as this win gains you promotion to the Championship section again.

For myself, I can only add to the woes, after a pretty disastrous result at the South West contest last weekend for Weston Brass.
We thought we'd played a blinder and so did everyone else, we were feeling extremely pleased with ourselves and our conductor even cracked a smile, but we only came 13th out of 17 bands.

Why do we do it?  Beats me.  I was talking to someone who left the band a couple of years ago who is now missing it all and wants to come back!

Thanks Sam too, very kind. It's so dispiriting when the result comes out poorly and one cannot understand why, isn't it? Normally, even if you get caught up in the excitement of the performance, when you listen back to a recording (or when you recall what happened around the stand on stage at a less excitable moment later), you can see how something went a certain way in the adjudicator's mind and respect their particular weighting of the issues of the performances, even if it wouldn't have been how you'd have done it yourself. But sometimes (thankfully not too often) you're left simply baffled, offering nothing more convincing than suspecting a concentration lapse or even an objective error.

Those kind of results have an upside though - they remind us that the whole idea of musical competition is basically absurd, and it doesn't do to get too upset when it goes unwarrantedly badly. One uses a contest as a vehicle to see the band present a more accomplished level of performance, and that's all that can really be controlled - the response of the adjudicator is not in our hands. It came out well in the results for us on Sunday, but if it hadn't, I would have (after frowning overnight) smiled and shrugged, moving on to the next challenge, and encouraging others in the band not to take it to heart - the fact that we were essentially happy with our performance (bar a few trivial clips) was the most important thing.
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« Reply #74 on: Mar 21, 2017, 12:54PM »

Can somebody explain this whole brass banding contest thing to me? Do all the bands have to play the same music? I can see how that would drive the judges bonkers if it is the case. How often do they have these contests? My knowledge of brass bands is pretty much limited to having seen Brassed Off on DVD some years back.
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« Reply #75 on: Mar 21, 2017, 12:59PM »

Can somebody explain this whole brass banding contest thing to me? Do all the bands have to play the same music? I can see how that would drive the judges bonkers if it is the case. How often do they have these contests? My knowledge of brass bands is pretty much limited to having seen Brassed Off on DVD some years back.


Depends on the contest.  National championships will have a fixed test piece that all the bands play.  Some other contests allow the bands to pick what they want to play.  Nationals are annual and bands play in probably three or four other contests each year?  At least we did. Other bands may be different.

Ronnie
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« Reply #76 on: Mar 22, 2017, 11:11AM »

Don't worry, I know I'm old.  My first contest was the 1978(?) Scottish Champs with Vaughan Williams "Variations".  I see my old band are looking for a bass trombone but I'm NOT tempted to go back. :-)

I have a regular orchestral gig in Edinburgh that needs more trombones of the tenor variety.   The Edinburgh Orchestral Ensemble were also looking for a tenor for their concert on the 25th March !

Ronnie

I'm a bass bone man. I wonder if our paths have crossed then at some point? Do you know Bill Giles?

Can somebody explain this whole brass banding contest thing to me? Do all the bands have to play the same music? I can see how that would drive the judges bonkers if it is the case. How often do they have these contests? My knowledge of brass bands is pretty much limited to having seen Brassed Off on DVD some years back.


Yeah we do three a year. The Nationals are the one where promotion/demotion are at stake & as Ronnie said each section has their own test piece so being an adjudicator listening to 14 or so bands playing the same piece must be hellish!!

The others we do are entertainment contests which involves playing a few pieces & one has to be of a certain theme. All good fun....honestly!
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« Reply #77 on: Mar 23, 2017, 01:18AM »

Going to correct myself a bit before someone else does!

The Regional championships are where you can get promoted/demoted. The top 2 from each section then go on to the Nationals so it's bands from all over the UK and then I think the winners get to go to the European(correct me if I'm wrong there).

Ross
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« Reply #78 on: Mar 23, 2017, 01:32AM »

I'm a bass bone man. I wonder if our paths have crossed then at some point? Do you know Bill Giles?

Yeah we do three a year. The Nationals are the one where promotion/demotion are at stake & as Ronnie said each section has their own test piece so being an adjudicator listening to 14 or so bands playing the same piece must be hellish!!

The others we do are entertainment contests which involves playing a few pieces & one has to be of a certain theme. All good fun....honestly!

No I don't know Bill Giles.  I've been out of it since 1995 and only got a trombone again (a bass one) last June and have been playing with the Open Orchestra since September.

I used to play with Broxburn but I see they are now Broxburn & Livingston.

Ronnie
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« Reply #79 on: Mar 23, 2017, 02:31AM »

Going to correct myself a bit before someone else does!

The Regional championships are where you can get promoted/demoted. The top 2 from each section then go on to the Nationals so it's bands from all over the UK and then I think the winners get to go to the European(correct me if I'm wrong there).

Ross

Pretty much. Though there's some additional complexity, which I'll lay out for anyone reading who's unfamiliar with band contesting as we do it here:

These regionals are the qualifying stages for our national championship for each section (championship, 1-4), the rather oddly named "National Brass Band Championship of Great Britain". GB is not a nation, and nor does it cover quite the same land area as the UK... But bands from Northern Ireland - and even the Republic - have sometimes been seen at the North West regional championship in the past. The regionals run early in the year, these days over weekends in February and March (in the past they've been as early as January and as late as June - even August for some of the very first regional series in 1945). The contest being qualified for is known as the "finals", and is split into two events, with the finals for sections 1-4 being held together on a weekend in September, and the championship section final being held in the impressive setting of the Royal Albert Hall in London in October.

The numbers qualifying from each section of each of the 8 regional championships (Scotland, North West, North of England, Yorkshire, Midlands, Wales, London & Southern Counties, West of England) depend on the number of bands that enter that particular section in that year. It increments for one finals place for every 8 bands entered; so 1-8 bands entered -> 1 finals place; 9-16 entered -> 2 finals places; 17-24 entered -> 3 finals places; 25+ entered -> 4 finals places. I suppose the number of finalists is capped at 4 to avoid the performance day at the finals becoming unworkably long. Most sections in most areas fall into the 9-16 bands bracket, and so the commonest situation is for 2 bands to go from a given section.

Regarding promotion and relegation (which takes place each year, effective from the following January), 7 of the 8 regions use the same system, where a band's placings from the three most recent years are summed; the two lowest totals go up and the two highest go down, regardless of the section sizes, though regional committees have the power to alter this by hand to even up section numbers.  Any ties for the second promotion or relegation spot see all tied bands promoted/relegated as appropriate.
The exception is Scotland, where the 3-year aggregate for relegation is weighted 0.5-1-2, and promotion is simply given to the top two places at each year's contest. This is done to try to avoid the situation where a band that has fallen in standard gets promoted based on old results due to vagaries of the table, and it does avoid this well. However, it does so at the cost of being very unforgiving of a single bad result - it is unusual for the two relegated bands not to be the lowest two places at that year's contest. I would personally adjust the weighting further - perhaps to 0.5-1-1; something in between the two systems.

Regarding qualification for the European championship, eagle-eyed observers will spot that among the list of regions are two that are countries in their own right, due to our peculiar constitutional state - Wales and Scotland. The winners of the Welsh and Scottish regional championship sections (*) are invited to compete in the European championships as representatives of their nations. The English invite then goes to the highest-placed English band at the championship section national final - not necessarily (**) the first-placed band at the contest, as that might be a Scottish or a Welsh band. Then there is an extra European qualification place for the country that won the previous European contest. So it is reasonably probable (given that UK bands often win the European contest) that among the contenders at the national final will be four bands (***) that go on to represent their countries at the European championships the following May.

(*) The Scots tend to prefer the title "Scottish championships" as their contest is longer-established (1895) than the nationals contest (1900, regionals format 1945), into which structure it was co-opted in 1951 (*)
(**) Or even often at the moment - the Cory band from Wales are really extremely good and have been for many years now (**)
(***) Let's take a worked example - the 2016 European championship: We see that 4 UK bands were at the 2016 Europeans - Black Dyke, who qualified as reigning European champions, Brighouse & Rastrick, who qualified as highest placed English band at the previous years national championship section final, Cory, who qualified as Welsh champions for the previous year, and Whitburn, who qualified as Scottish champions for the previous year. Note that the national final only qualified one of these four bands for the European, although all four competed at it (two of them coming a fair way down the results table, incidentally). Note also that the Welsh and Scottish winners are taken from the previous year's contest, due to there otherwise being only a month available to prepare two rock-hard test-pieces for the toughest brass band competition in the world; in fact neither Cory nor Whitburn were current champions of either Wales or Scotland respectively at the time of this European contest, despite Cory winning it (which will bring them back to the following European contest next month).
Confusing? It is somewhat... (***)
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