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ThirdValvesAreForWimps

Brass Arrangements Sound the Same

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First, the good:  It’s nice to hear brass lines punching up the volume again and most corps are accomplishing this without field microphones.  Congratulations!  Design staffs listen to the veterans and fans after all!  We want a big sound and we want it to be produced by natural means.

Now, with that being said, each corps used to have its own particular sound.  Back in the day you could pick out a brass line blindfolded:  Phantom had a particular sound, Madison had a distinctive sound, etc.  

No longer.

Every brass arranger in DCI seems to use the same technique.  The trumpet parts are arranged similarly, etc., and its hard to distinguish between some of the brass lines today.  Sure, there are differences in quality and clarity but in general there is what I call sameness across DCI. To me things sound tuba- and mellophone-heavy across the board especially live.  Even some of the best brass lines in the country sound like a radio with the bass turned up and the treble turned down.

Other than from the Blue Devils I don’t hear the searing-hot trumpet sound cutting over the top of the brass section.  To my mind the best brass sections shade a little toward the treble end of the balance scale; not a lot, just a little.

Look, modern brass lines are amazing but it sounds like the parts were ripped from Arban’s technique book.  Would it hurt to play more than four consecutive measures of an actual piece?  Other than parts of “Bolero” by The Cavaliers, a couple bars of “God Bless the Child” by the Bluecoats, and a trumpet solo from Phantom Regiment in “New World Symphony,” I don’t hear much I recognize.  It’s mostly a ten minute mashup.

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that's a little reductive

but I could do with a little bit less of the 4-bar filler that so many corps use that's just harmonized 32nd note chromatic scale runs 

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You'd have to listen to the brass band pieces to recognize some of the stuff that corps are playing, because that's what they're playing.  That being said, they play from those pretty recognizably.  Bluecoats music is very recognizable too. 

Other corps have gone a little bit abstract, so I get where you're coming from this year compared to the last few years for some of these corps. It had been better last year, but some corps have gone generic this year so far. Maybe they'll get better when layering of music, but I doubt it. Still, lots of recognizable stuff this year, so I have to disagree with a blanket statement about all corps.

I happen to like the pyramid of sound that many corps are approaching this year, and I definitely like the experimenting with the different brass instruments that I see happening.

I have a mixed opinion on what you're saying. I'll have to listen more to all the shows over the summer to see if I feel the same way about some of the corps as I do now, but I'm choosing to have a good attitude about it in the mean time.

 

Edited by jjeffeory
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12 minutes ago, jjeffeory said:

I happen to like the pyramid of sound that many corps are approaching this year, and I definitely like the experimenting with the brass instruments that I see.

 

I find that Corps that invert the pyramid -- emphasizing the treble end -- tend to sound brittle and harsh, at least to my ears. That's just how all my teachers approached balance -- lower voices prominent.

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4 hours ago, ThirdValvesAreForWimps said:

First, the good:  It’s nice to hear brass lines punching up the volume again and most corps are accomplishing this without field microphones.  Congratulations!  Design staffs listen to the veterans and fans after all!  We want a big sound and we want it to be produced by natural means.

Now, with that being said, each corps used to have its own particular sound.  Back in the day you could pick out a brass line blindfolded:  Phantom had a particular sound, Madison had a distinctive sound, etc.  

No longer.

Every brass arranger in DCI seems to use the same technique.  The trumpet parts are arranged similarly, etc., and its hard to distinguish between some of the brass lines today.  Sure, there are differences in quality and clarity but in general there is what I call sameness across DCI. To me things sound tuba- and mellophone-heavy across the board especially live.  Even some of the best brass lines in the country sound like a radio with the bass turned up and the treble turned down.

Other than from the Blue Devils I don’t hear the searing-hot trumpet sound cutting over the top of the brass section.  To my mind the best brass sections shade a little toward the treble end of the balance scale; not a lot, just a little.

Look, modern brass lines are amazing but it sounds like the parts were ripped from Arban’s technique book.  Would it hurt to play more than four consecutive measures of an actual piece?  Other than parts of “Bolero” by The Cavaliers, a couple bars of “God Bless the Child” by the Bluecoats, and a trumpet solo from Phantom Regiment in “New World Symphony,” I don’t hear much I recognize.  It’s mostly a ten minute mashup.

Thought you had heard the Bluecoats live???  If you think they are only playing 4 measures of an actual piece...might want to check out the source material again.

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odd, the corps i have seen this year definitely had traits that caused you to know who they were

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the reason some of the arrangements are so pieced together now adays is so they have time to do all the dancing and prancing and GE visual stunts and tricks.... because GE scores more.  Sad but true... another reason why we see uni..err costumes now rather than the tradition uniforms.  GE is what it is all about now

Edited by dcibrando
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7 hours ago, dcibrando said:

the reason some of the arrangements are so pieced together now adays is so they have time to do all the dancing and prancing and GE visual stunts and tricks.... because GE scores more.  Sad but true... another reason why we see uni..err costumes now rather than the tradition uniforms.  GE is what it is all about now

3

Boy, you packed a lot of personal preferences in 3 sentences..lol

Edited by GUARDLING
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I'm just thankful Blue Devils still have their signature mega electronic bass synth overpowering the front line, battery and hornline - I love big bass - I can not lie ---

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I haven’t been to any shows this year, though this time next week that will have changed: three shows in three days, so I can’t speak yet about this year. Though the sound is not as unique as in the past, I think you can still detect the style and sound. Some have lost it,  no question, but not all. It’s also generational. I sat with someone last year about thirty years my junior  who thought last year’s Cavaliers show was classic Cavies. For me, when classic Cavies comes to mind, it’s probably “Santa Esmeralda” or “Softly As I Leave You.”

i would wonder if two factors are at play. One, corps often had the same arrangers for many years. Take Jim Wedge with 27th. The classic 27th Sound was gone after he left. Arrangers and instructors now move from corps to corps with a greater frequency. Many do try and adapt the corps style to the arrangements, but the thumbprint will always remain. Second, corps often had arrangements they would use again. Think of all the great Madison arrangements they would use almost in a rotation. Today, shows have to look and sound original. 

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