Interesting Predicament, Creativity Needed

Interesting Predicament, Creativity Needed

Interesting Predicament, Creativity Needed    14:59 on Monday, February 5, 2007          

(17 points)
Posted by maw102190

I know this isn't completely relevant to this board, but many of you seem to offer extremely helpful and insightful advice, so I'm hoping that you can also help me out.

I'm in an interesting predicament: my instrumental technique class has to perform as an ensemble at our high school's band concert in April. Here's the catch: the class consists of one flutist, one oboist, one clarinetist, one alto saxophonist, two trumpet players, and one percussionist.

Our director thinks that we can just use excerpts from a piece of concert band music as long as all of the needed parts are covered. I'm extremely skeptical because we have no low brass or low woodwind players in the class and even more afraid of being completely embarrassed by the hack-arranging job that will most likely happen (and I've heard it before, just a couple of months ago, but that's another story...). That was just merely a suggestion, but he's open to other ideas.

I'm going to propose that we take a woodwind quartet or quintet and do some transposing. Would it be a wise idea to, for example with the quartet, keep the flute and oboe parts as is (keeping in mind that the oboist and I are the only strong players of the group), then put the alto sax (and the clarinet) on the clarinet part, the trumpets on the horn part (or whatever the left over part is), and then write a simple snare part or something?

Or, do you think it would be better for those of us who know how to compose, to write something ourselves? How many parts would you suggest writing and how would you suggest we assign them? (And yes, we all have taken or are currently taking a music theory class that focuses on composition.)

Thank you in advance for your help! =)

Re: Interesting Predicament, Creativity Needed    17:22 on Monday, February 5, 2007          

(208 points)
Posted by ekdavies

I would certainly favour taking a quartet/quintet and doing some minor re-arranging. However, this must be done in the context of the music and not simply allocated without consideration for the expression desired by the music, the tones of the instruments etc. IMHO the essence of wind band playing is to use intrumentation effectively and underline dynamic contrasts etc - too often you have a mix of instruments with contrasting tones all playing melody which fails to make the best of the music.

Some possibilities:

Excerpts from Vivaldi's four seasons
Dvorak, New World symphony second movement
Part of Grieg's Peer Gynt Suite - especially Morning
Simplified arrangements of Radetsky March
Soldier's March by Schumann(?)

Adding a keyboard might be considered worthwhile but I would endeavour to avoid it as you probably have players who can fill harmony parts in.

Re: Interesting Predicament, Creativity Needed    19:06 on Monday, February 5, 2007          

(480 points)
Posted by Tibbiecow

ekdavies, these are some great suggestions.

With regard to the original questions, I would say NO, DON'T DO IT!!! with regards to the 'already existing' concert band piece.

Your current instrumentation is very much overbalanced on the high parts. Can anyone play bassoon, barry sax, or even baritone horn? Or maybe a bass clarinet? Whatever you do, you will need to keep the high voices minimal (say, one of you at a time acting the 'solo' voice on your primary instrument) with one or two in the mid range, the rest in the low range, and on harmony parts. You could get creative with your percussion, too, using vibraphone or marimba as a low range voice.

I think that rewriting some woodwind quintet would give you all some real challenge, and be fun. Just make sure that you look at the concept of balance, and I think you could sound great.


OK, to be more clear, I think it would be best to rearrange a quintet or quartet. Any of your instruments can play the 'high' flute or oboe part, just not all at the same time.

I would have you look at the Sibelius music page. There are a LOT of compositions, and arrangements for, various standard and un-standard instrumentation there. Usually you are able to comunicate with the arranger/composer by email, and many of the pieces are free. Some composers will write specifically for your particular instrumentation.

Re: Interesting Predicament, Creativity Needed    20:18 on Monday, February 5, 2007          

Account Closed
(904 points)
Posted by Account Closed

Just a simple suggestion, but I think it would be interesting to take a Bach fugue (provided there are ample voices) and give each instrument in the ensemble a voice from the entire piece. I've never got around to trying this, but I'm planning on it. If you give the right voice to the right part, it should sound fairly nice.

Re: Interesting Predicament, Creativity Needed    08:41 on Tuesday, February 6, 2007          

(1340 points)
Posted by Bilbo

Yes, the instrumentation is an issue. If you use anything from the band, you will find that some of the parts are already doubled. Tpt and sax laying the same parts as an example. If you arrange a Bach fugue, the parts can easily go out of range and you may then be confusing the arrangement with voice doubling.

A WW ensemble or brass ensemble piece could be used. -Remember that a good percussionist can play some form of a mallet instrument too.
Reasearch something for woodwind or brass septet.

Also music for a flute choir (transposed parts) may be a good bet. I think that's what I'd do.

N.E. Ohio

Re: Interesting Predicament, Creativity Needed    17:16 on Tuesday, February 6, 2007          

(9 points)
Posted by alu688

My concert band had a similar problem about two years ago. We tried some full band arrangements, but it ended up sounding too weird without a nice base to support all us woodwinds. What we ended up doing was transposing mostly chamber music (I think we had a piece intended for a flute choir, like Bilbo suggested) and it worked out very nicely.

Re: Interesting Predicament, Creativity Needed    05:34 on Wednesday, February 7, 2007          

(1340 points)
Posted by Bilbo

Dear Lera,
The word in english is not sisons, it's seasons.

Re: Interesting Predicament, Creativity Needed    14:03 on Friday, February 9, 2007          

(17 points)
Posted by maw102190

Thanks again for your advice. I think that the issue has been resolved... balance may be an issue, but I think it will be alright. =)


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