Author Topic: The band template  (Read 1542 times)

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Ron

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The band template
« on: September 25, 2016, 10:03:25 AM »
In going over the band template--and others I have seen--I am unclear about the number of each instrument. In a "classical" orchestral score a staff labelled "flute" means there is one flute. However, in marching band scores a staff labelled "flute" means "a whole big bunch of 'em." So, what is the implied meaning about the number of instruments in a staff when talking about concert bands?

In a group of instruments is expected, how is that labelled, as opposed to a staff for a solo instrument? My copy of Kennan and Grantham says a "flute I" can be 1-8 players and "flute II" another 1-8 players. Further confusion: Bb Clarinet I can be 4-8 players, while Bb clarinet II can be 6-10 and Bb clarinet III can be 8-12 players. Wouldn't that throw the balance completely off?


And, what does the string contrabass do in such a group? Is it expected to play only pizzicato, or bowed--and as there is only 1 of them, would it not be completely drowned out by everyone else?
Ron
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Michel.R.E

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Re: The band template
« Reply #1 on: September 25, 2016, 10:07:12 AM »
I have no idea why that single contrabass is there, though I've seen some bands with a couple of them.

It's hard for an orchestral composer to get their brain around the idea of up to a dozen woodwind instruments playing a unison line as the de facto condition.

but that's what gives the band that sound I guess.

In Barber's piano concerto there's one spot where the three flutes play in unison, and honestly the sound has a certain "concert band" quality to it because of this.
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gogreen

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Re: The band template
« Reply #2 on: September 25, 2016, 03:51:40 PM »
The number of players in concerts bands varies greatly. Most score indications for instruments are sections. A super-small school band might have one player per part--with some instruments missing. A huge school, might have 10 or 15 first clarinets, the same number of second clarinets, and that same number of third clarinets. Same with most other sections. There will likely be fewer alto saxophone, euphonium, and trombone players. You find the fewest players in concert bands for oboe, bassoon, tenor saxophone, horn, and tuba. Percussion sections can vary from a few to far too many. Large schools might have several bands and a wind ensemble to accommodate all the players.

Most bands are school bands or community bands, whose enrollments can vary greatly. In schools, the elementary school(s) feeder system and, later, in middle school and high school, the teachers' foresight in filling out parts plays a big role in a balanced sound--a huge number of players, perhaps, but a balanced sound. This means that a middle school director might have a willing students or two switch, after a few years of experience, from alto saxophone to tenor and baritone sax, or trombone and baritone to tuba, or clarinet to bass clarinet, or trumpet to F horn, thus balancing a band's instrumentation.

Wind ensembles generally feature fewer players per part.

I have no idea why a lone string bass part appears in some concert band scores. Tradition, I guess. I have written for string bass in some of my concert band pieces, mainly to add oomph to the tuba part. I have indicated bowing and pizzicato in my string bass parts. I've also added an electric bass part in some of my scores when I thought it was appropriate.

None of my band or wind ensemble scores in the last 15 years has a staff for Eb clarinet, alto clarinet, or contralto or contrabass clarinet. Also, forget about A clarinet (they're all Bb), and the only horn you'll find in the U.S. is F horn. I always label my euphonium staff "baritone/euphonium" because some schools, and therefore, bands, have baritone horns, not euphoniums.

Another quirk: When I'm producing parts for a performance, I always include a baritone/euphonium treble clef part, even though it's not in the score. That's what's often required when a trumpet player switches to baritone/euphonium. (Finale comes with a script for transposing a euphonium part to treble clef.)

Ron

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Re: The band template
« Reply #3 on: September 25, 2016, 04:19:44 PM »
In other words, Art, when writing for concert band, we should select the instrument groups in Garritan's COMB library.
Ron
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tbmartin

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Re: The band template
« Reply #4 on: September 25, 2016, 04:23:39 PM »
(Finale comes with a script for transposing a euphonium part to treble clef.)

Euph treble clef is exactly the same transposition as Tenor Sax. (Many times in marching band, my tenor sax part was labeled "TSax/Euph T.C.")
Terence Martin

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gogreen

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Re: The band template
« Reply #5 on: September 25, 2016, 05:52:46 PM »
Quote
In other words, Art, when writing for concert band, we should select the instrument groups in Garritan's COMB library.

That's one way to do it. I've also built clarinet sections, for one, by layering individual players in Finale.

Quote
Euph treble clef is exactly the same transposition as Tenor Sax. (Many times in marching band, my tenor sax part was labeled "TSax/Euph T.C.")

The tenor sax/euphonium treble clef part sounds like a publisher's consolidation move--probably appropriate for marching band, but not necessarily so for concert band or wind ensemble. This doubling might depend on the grade level of the piece and the specific music.

tbmartin

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Re: The band template
« Reply #6 on: September 25, 2016, 06:39:02 PM »

The tenor sax/euphonium treble clef part sounds like a publisher's consolidation move--probably appropriate for marching band, but not necessarily so for concert band or wind ensemble. This doubling might depend on the grade level of the piece and the specific music.

This was in marching band only. Our arranger was often finishing parts not long before the week's show. I always cringed a bit when we had the same part as the euph, because it usually meant it was boring!
Terence Martin

Tools: Finale 2003 on Windows XP
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http://bit.ly/TerenceMartinSaxArranger
Goal: Improve quantity and quality of concert band compositions.
Play: Saxophones (all, but tenor primary), Bass Clarinet, Piano (poorly)

Ron

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Re: The band template
« Reply #7 on: September 26, 2016, 08:24:17 AM »
I notice in your score for "Turn Signals" that sometimes you divide the horns into two parts with no indication at all in the score, while other times you use "div." and "unis." Is it typical in band scores not to label divided parts when it is obvious?
Ron
Rules? What rules?

gogreen

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Re: The band template
« Reply #8 on: September 26, 2016, 08:27:28 AM »
Quote
I notice in your score for "Turn Signals" that sometimes you divide the horns into two parts with no indication at all in the score, while other times you use "div." and "unis." Is it typical in band scores not to label divided parts when it is obvious?

I'm not sure if it's typical, but I've seen it both ways. Where there's no indication, it's just assumed the director and players know to divide, and the director determines who plays what. I try to be consistent in my scores, one way or the other, preferring to indicate all divisi and unison places. Thanks for catching that, Ron! I'll fix the score.