I was asked last night what I really thought of our recent performance at Wingello!
I personally doubt many bands would sound as good under such arduous conditions, yet we not only played well and looked good, there were a number of excellent moments of musicality to enjoy, in reviewing the video after (which suffered lots of wind noise and random footage of the offices and toilets due to the wind!) it’s quite obvious that we have not lost the musical growth we gained during our contest efforts.
One of the areas I touched on in rehearsal last night is commonly called the pyramid of sound. This is the best way to increase volume and to swell the dynamics of the ensemble…. if we consider our band sound to be a triangular prism with three distinct sections in it…..the bottom or widest part should be the lower sounds of basses, trombones, euphonium, Bari sax etc, the middle, the altos, horns, tenor sax, 2nd and third clarinets, 2nd and third trumpets and the top section flutes, 1st clarinets and first trumpet…. you can easily visualise the relative sound quantity required to balance the ensemble and therefore when we crescendo, the bulk of volume change comes from the bottom and the top is just the icing on the model….the middle provides further growth….ergo when we decrescendo you can see where the bulk needs to be removed from. A fine example of this can be found in numerous primary school bands where you have an over abundance of flutes and clarinets so the top is too large and the clarinets become too strong in the middle area and often there is a lack of lower end to compensate or if it is the lower end are often unable to compete with the higher sounds and the band sounds thin and brittle.
For our band to play at its potential, we as players need to constantly be aware of our own sound and of what part we are actually occupying…. a melody is generally in the top of the pyramid…. the harmony lies in the middle and of course the bass provides that foundation and chord definition for all else to rest on. This works within larger sections as well….. and if you follow the model above…. trumpet 3 actually occupies the most important part as it is providing the bass to the section….. funny because where do we often sit our weaker players? Maybe they aren’t our weaker players at all but just need encouragement to bring their sound through and maybe we need to allow them room to do that…food for thought.
Thanks to all who made the trek to Wingello and for your efforts in less than ideal conditions. Let’s hope the next one is a little easier