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Ensembles - part 1 - Brass Band

Listen to this Brass Band playing “I Will” by the Beatles. Click here.



The texture changes during the piece and that is what gives us a clue to the different roles in the ensemble.


At the start, the drums set the tempo. This is very important, even though it sounds like the sort of thing that is often cut off CD recordings. Without the correct tempo, the musicians reading the music have no idea how long to play each crotchet, quaver, or semiquaver for.


The first theme, like a verse, comes next. This is played by the cornet. You can hear that the Tuba (Eb and Bb Bass) play the bass line, but everyone else fills out the chords. There is a little countermelody about 8 seconds into the clip, played on the tenor horn – it does not last long, however.


In the second section (“love you forever and forever….”) The euphonium takes the melody. This is a very popular trick for arranging Brass Band Music. It gives another section something more interesting to play, and lets the cornets have a rest, or play around the melody. In this example the cornets play the chords (REST da da da, REST da da da) Just as the clip finishes you can hear them playing a fragment of a tune reminiscent of the countermelody that the horns played in the first section.

Don’t just think I’m having a laugh when I say “lets the cornets have a rest”, by the way. If you’ve ever tried to play a brass instrument, the first few times your mouth feels a bit like it’s been punched in by Amir Khan!


Notice how the drums bring in and accentuate the second section as the drummer moves from the hi hat to the ride cymbal. This makes us sit up and listen.


Click here to listen to a Tuba solo. Many of the roles described above are on show here again. Listen to the piece and see how many you can notice for yourself.

To find out more about the instruments try the Besson website. They make some great instruments

Local bands - Phoenix and Langley. Two of the most famous bands are Besses o' th' barn in Lancashire and Grimethorpe Colliery Band in Yorkshire. Grimethorpe featured in the film "Brassed Off!". This is an ace film, but it's a 15 so don't get watchin it if you're not! it's also very beautiful and very upsetting so be careful. Be prepared to cry as much as you did when you watched "Kuch Kuch Hota Hai" the first time. Certain people cried so much at the cinema that they had to stop the car on the way home because they couldn't see!


When it happens at Holly Lodge

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