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Author Topic: new development in military music  (Read 7177 times)
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Bruce the budgie

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« Reply #60 on: Jun 28, 2016, 01:37PM »

I like listening...
So do I.

Somehow your post reminded me of a time I was headed in for a holiday evening shift about this time of year, and heard Vladimir Horowitz play a piano reduction of The Stars and Stripes Forever. The piano may have been grand, but the car speakers were small and tinny.

I remember thinking that ten fingers being run by a single nervous system were no match for four or five dozen musicians, each adding an independent voice to the mix.

(I should probably spare you the story of the fellow on public radio who could whistle and hum in counterpoint, demonstrating with the trio section of that march. Oops, too late, beans spilled. Susan Stamberg asked him to marry her right then on the air, but he was already taken.)

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« Reply #61 on: Jun 28, 2016, 03:30PM »

I mean, retirement ceremonies and change of commands/responsibility are slated to stay around

I'm not so sure about that. It kind of looks like Paragraph 3 enumerates everything the bands are allowed to do.

At least within the US. Subsection a doesn't apply to foreign performances, and whether or not the defunding applies to those as well will be a moot point should the appropriation pass as amended.
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harrison.t.reed
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« Reply #62 on: Jun 28, 2016, 03:55PM »

The regular Army military bands are not doing concert band gigs any more. Those are extremely rare. The TRADOC and FORSCOM bands (which were considered to be cream of the crop in the Army) tried doing mostly concert band engagements and FORSCOM was deactivated last year, while TRADOC slated to deactivate in about a year. Coincidence?

Now, for official ceremonies,  the standard is still to do three military marches or even a circus march as pre-music, and then marches for all the movement that takes place on the parade field. It's traditional on purpose.

But to those who are saying that the Army bands (I don't know about the other branches) are just playing Sousa -- you haven't seen an Army band in about a decade, then.

Typical missions for the public are either a rock band, playing tunes from whatever is most popular on the radio to local popular tunes, a brass band doing instrumental covers of popular songs as well as brass band standards, or a small jazz combo playing music at an Army ball or in the chow hall on a big holiday --  we don't even do big band any longer. Big band is not what people like. Brass quintets and woodwind groups cover down on smaller ceremonies that do not require a full marching element, as well as to assist with music for chaplain events.

By far the most impact comes from people getting to see a rock band and see a vocalist in uniform sing songs that they know and can sing along with. It's great to play in a horn line on shows like that. But if you get a rowdy brass band playing tunes that people can sing along with and get people charged up, that's even better.

The Army has long ago left the concert band /sousa concept and done it's best to keep up with the times.
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« Reply #63 on: Jun 28, 2016, 04:10PM »

Just because the music is "modern" doesn't mean it's good.  People didn't go to military band concerts to hear a rock band.  They went to hear patriotic music.

On that note, I'm out of here lest I get tagged by hire ups paid to monitor for grumpiness...
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« Reply #64 on: Jun 28, 2016, 04:25PM »

Just because the music is "modern" doesn't mean it's good.  People didn't go to military band concerts to hear a rock band.  They went to hear patriotic music.

On that note, I'm out of here lest I get tagged by hire ups paid to monitor for grumpiness...

Dan, I've played very few jobs with the Army where anyone showed up specifically because they wanted to hear a military band. They certainly didn't specifically come to hear ceremonial music. That doesn't mean they weren't singing along by the end of the shows I've played. People show up because they heard about some event or another and they are out to have a fun day. Those are the easiest people in the world to play for. Adults, college students, high schoolers -- it doesn't matter. My MPTs are all entertaining. A musician should either try something new or hang up his hat if people leave his show disappointed, military or not. That's how music works.

Hopefully you are working as a positive catalyst in your music groups to get the best product you can get.
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« Reply #65 on: Jun 28, 2016, 07:15PM »

You think so?  I mean, retirement ceremonies and change of commands/responsibility are slated to stay around and all the stuff that lower ranks (and the public) MIGHT enjoy are going away.  Seems like they are ONLY worried about the high ranking people.  And all of Congress knows that they can look good if they can cut spending, and that John Q Public won't care if the bands are gone. 

Obviously I didn't explain well, and part of that is my fault.  I'm being circumspect for a reason, I'm part of the Army, and I'm subject to some oversight even if I'm typing from home. 

But let me cautiously try to explain what I meant. 

Yes, change of commands when one general enters, one general leaves (movie reference) will stay around and require (I hope) a formation and a band.  Congress has no problem with that.  But you're mistaken if you think that is taking care of high rank.  That is really taking care of the tradition and esprit de corps of the Army, and it is necessary.  Congress understands that, and has no perception that it is an unentitled perk for somebody important. 

Harrison mentioned that most of the performances are not the full band, but small groups drawn from it, and that has been my experience too, gradually increasing over my 24 years with the Army. 

That leaves an opportunity for some of those small groups to be ordered to support social events for important people, representing an abuse of power.  I don't think that happens much.  But I'm inclined by nature to think the best of people when I can.  It seems the supporter of this amendment has witnessed something different, and it has affected her bias.  I think she's wrong, but............. on the other hand if somebody didn't watch out for that stuff, it might become more prevalent, I dunno. 
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Tim Richardson
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« Reply #66 on: Jun 29, 2016, 04:53AM »

There is more than one way to look at the economics of it.

An average post band of 44 people probably does about 300 performances a year.  What would it cost to hire working professionals to do those 300 performances?  It would probably be astronomical compared to the salaries and benefits of 44 people. 

But wait.  Some of those performances require 44 people able to march in formation and play marches in the hot sun with a high degree of skill and precision.  There is no local competition.  None of the bands I play with could come close.  Military band members are highly proficient musicians, more so than the local talent most places. 

Some of those performances are: provide a flute and keyboard for an office party background music.  Okay, you can hire perfectly adequate talent anywhere in the country.  There is competition.  Or you can go with a dj. 

Without having access to the records, but having been to many many ceremonies and events over the years, I would hazard a guess that ratio of full band to small elements is something like 4 to 296 per year.  That might be vastly different depending on the location, but I'm not going to be off by an order of magnitude. 

So when the bosses (that's not me) are doing the math, they have to decide what question to ask.  Do we keep 44 people on staff when we need 300 performances?  Sure, it's a no brainer.  What about when the number is 4?  I'm glad I don't have to be part of that negotiation. 
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Tim Richardson
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« Reply #67 on: Jun 29, 2016, 05:11AM »

I realize the Military is under the gun to cut costs.  They have been for a long time.

But this is making a bad Community Relations move to save the cost of a wing tank for an X-35 fighter.



Precisely.  The ENTIRE BANDS PROGRAM costs 1/4 ONE B-2.

Congress are such a bunch of scheming punks. Our Military is unbelievably over funded and they want to cut a tiny program that actually matters. 
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« Reply #68 on: Jun 29, 2016, 06:08AM »

Tim: the problem is that the small units often require a wide variety of different instruments.  The Military does not field a symphony orchestra but a string quartet will perform at a White House dinner.  None of those instruments are Marching Band, so the performers must play something else as well.  Same goes for a rock group.  I've not seen people marching with gee-tars so they also have to play something else.

So a 44 piece Military Band will need to have a number of players who can double on other instruments.  At a professional level. 

Monkey: I have long said that if the Military wants to spend my tax dollars on anything, Military Music is high on the list.  I like having the local Field Band play in the town's Fourth of July parade or Old Home Day parade.  A lot of Military musicians (now ex-musicians) play in my symphony orchestra (as well as other orchestras in the area).  They are a great asset; always great players, and always willing to help anybody else.
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« Reply #69 on: Jun 29, 2016, 07:34AM »

Tim: the problem is that the small units often require a wide variety of different instruments. 

Yes.  The full band becomes a talent pool from which to draw talented musicians for other purposes.

When you reverse it, you realize the requirement is the other purposes, and the full band has become largely irrelevant. 

I don't know the answer here. 

I was at a ceremony this morning, ground breaking for a construction project.  A brass quintet played the pre-music, they did Liberty Bell, Sabres and Spurs, and Washington Post.  The arrangements were good and the performance was outstanding.  This was an official function and nobody would think there was anything inappropriate about having the band do it, on duty and supported by funds. 

At the same time, this particular ceremony did not actually require a band to complete the mission.  It was a nice-to-have.  There is a basic economic principle that says cost and demand are related, and when cost goes to zero demand will go to infinite.  The band is free, so everybody requests it, and I'm sure they have way more requests than they can possibly accommodate.

When you really need a full band, there is no substitute.   
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« Reply #70 on: Jul 01, 2016, 11:17AM »

Currently in the news. The optics of this just aren't good.

The $75,000 Cello: One Reason Military Bands Hit a Sour Note

One has to conclude that the military is very bad at shopping around and very bad at spending our money and not just for cellos.


I went to a cello festival in June and heard a lot of accomplished cello players play a lot of cellos and I can tell you that it is absolutely possible to get modern cello for $10,000 that performs as well as a $5 million Stradivari. $75,000 for what the military ensembles do is crazy.


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« Reply #71 on: Jul 01, 2016, 12:01PM »

Currently in the news. The optics of this just aren't good.

The $75,000 Cello: One Reason Military Bands Hit a Sour Note

One has to conclude that the military is very bad at shopping around and very bad at spending our money and not just for cellos.


I went to a cello festival in June and heard a lot of accomplished cello players play a lot of cellos and I can tell you that it is absolutely possible to get modern cello for $10,000 that performs as well as a $5 million Stradivari. $75,000 for what the military ensembles do is crazy.







http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/1994-07-25/news/9407250022_1_instruments-stolen-band-san-antonio

http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local/Armys-Band-Instruments-Stolen-Overnight-124733304.html


http://www.wsmv.com/story/16208998/soldier-charged-with-having-stolen-army-band-items

http://abc13.com/news/theft-thwarts-army-bands-veterans-day-performance-plan/394228/


Sometimes I really wonder if we do have too many bands, or if people just don't want the hassles involved with the job. Like taking care of the gear. When you've got one branch, having this much stuff stolen or lost, it's no wonder why people are critical of military band budgets.
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« Reply #72 on: Jul 01, 2016, 12:53PM »

It has been mentioned earlier but there is no award in the military for not spending money. If you don't spend your budget this year you'll get less money next year when you might actually need it.

It never fails.  Every August all units, not just the bands, get email traffic saying we have a ton of money to spend.  Put in your requests now so we can buy it before the end of the fiscal year.

It may not be the case here but I wouldn't be surprised if this was a "how do we burn through  $150k by next month?" issue.

And yes, I do have experience in procurement for military bands.
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« Reply #73 on: Jul 01, 2016, 02:33PM »

It has been mentioned earlier but there is no award in the military for not spending money. If you don't spend your budget this year you'll get less money next year when you might actually need it.

It never fails.  Every August all units, not just the bands, get email traffic saying we have a ton of money to spend.  Put in your requests now so we can buy it before the end of the fiscal year.

It may not be the case here but I wouldn't be surprised if this was a "how do we burn through  $150k by next month?" issue.

And yes, I do have experience in procurement for military bands.

If you're authorized $150K for purchases of high end instruments, don't leave them in an unsecured location. It's a pity that there's no penalties for people not taking care of the gear. I wonder what the yearly costs are for lost/stolen gear. I'll bet that's a factor for shutting them down. Just makes it easier.
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« Reply #74 on: Jul 01, 2016, 03:05PM »

If you're authorized $150K for purchases of high end instruments, don't leave them in an unsecured location.

No argument there.

Quote
It's a pity that there's no penalties for people not taking care of the gear.

Sure there is.  That's easily punishable under the UCMJ.  Either no one has yet pushed the issue or it just hasn't been made public.

Quote
I wonder what the yearly costs are for lost/stolen gear. I'll bet that's a factor for shutting them down. Just makes it easier.

My 11 years in two branches of service and three bands has resulted in a nice $0 of lost or stolen equipment.  Equipment of any real value at least.  I'm sure someone lost a flip folder or three ring binder at some point.  Maybe a pencil.
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« Reply #75 on: Jul 02, 2016, 10:19AM »

Article on the topic in today's NYT:

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/02/us/military-bands-budget.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&version=Moth-Visible&moduleDetail=inside-nyt-region-2&module=inside-nyt-region®ion=inside-nyt-region&WT.nav=inside-nyt-region&_r=0
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« Reply #76 on: Jul 02, 2016, 02:15PM »


This all sounds like political bs. The same bs that has many of Americans frustrated with those in government. Complaining about a $12,000.00 tuba while talking about brining the F-22 platform out of retirement. I heard that it cost $43,000.00 dollars an hour to fly that plane. All the bands in the military would not exceed the cost of one of those birds.
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« Reply #77 on: Jul 02, 2016, 05:16PM »

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov//petition/continue-military-bands-funding

Apparently 25,000 ish people disagree with the proposed ammendment.
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« Reply #78 on: Jul 02, 2016, 05:47PM »

I went to one of the President's Own Marine Band concerts when they were in town a few years ago. At the end, the did a medley of service tunes and had people who were connected somehow to that particular service  stand up. There young children standing as well as older people. I am sure that some of those young children have lost parents or brothers and sisters and this was a very respectful way to recognize their sacrifice for this country. Maybe that's what has me so irritated about this; Politicians who can't see the value in having music that is assessable to the troops and their families. In my perspective,  to ask people to die for their country and being too cheap to ensure that there is a live musician to play taps at funerals makes me want to make sure I find out what side of this issue my representatives are on.
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« Reply #79 on: Jul 02, 2016, 07:15PM »

If you're authorized $150K for purchases of high end instruments, don't leave them in an unsecured location. It's a pity that there's no penalties for people not taking care of the gear. I wonder what the yearly costs are for lost/stolen gear. I'll bet that's a factor for shutting them down. Just makes it easier.

The military no longer accounts for paper clips.  Yes, a few decades back, we actually had to count those every year.

But we do have something called a property book and a hand receipt, and we are accountable for anything over $500. (and for items considered pilferable, it can be less)  Every time somebody leaves for a new duty station his hand receipt is checked and if there's something missing it comes out of his pay, up to some limit.  For a soldier I think it's one month pay, for a civilian it is the actual value. 
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