Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Brass Choir Article

I found a really good article on JSTOR. I would really suggest checking it out.

Free Music

Here is a website that has free brass music that you can download.
Check it out here.

Jazz trumpet transcriptions

Check this out!

Burning River Brass

A brass choir founded in Cleveland, Ohio in 1996, the Burning River Brass is a fairly newer group compared to the other ensembles. They have four CD's out all with a number of original works and arrangements.
Highlights include:
Russian Carnival
-complete version of Mussorgky's Pictures at an Exhibition
-Prokofiev March from the Three Oranges
Of Knights and Castles
-Mozart's Queen of the Night Aria
Romanza Espana
-Bizet Carmen (5 mvt)
Check out there website here.

Symphonia Tuba/Euphonium Ensemble

Symphonia is a professional tuba/euphonium ensemble made up of some of the top tuba/euphonium professors players in the world (but mostly in the states). I couldn't find any recordings off of youtube, but there is a couple on their webstie that you can download for free. Some of the works they have done are:
Holst 2nd suite in F
Shostakovich Festive Overture
John Williams March from 1942
Holst Mars from the Planets

Brass Ensemble Websites

I found this website that has 600+ Professional (?) Brass Ensemble websites. It isn't just ensembles in the United States but all over the world.
Check it out here.

Canadian Brass

Another outstanding Brass Quintet that has contributed a lot to the brass quintet world.
Flight of the Bumblebee by Rimsky-Korsakov
Beethoven's 5 Symphony playing with two other brass quintets
Finale from the Firebird played with the Star of Indiana Drum and Bugle Corps

German Brass

The German brass has performed and recorded numerous transcriptions and arrangements of pieces over the years.  They have played popular pieces from the '80 Rock group Europe to pieces from the Baroque and Classical periods plus many more.
Some pieces include but not limited to:
Final Countdown by Europe

Check them out on YouTube, there is a lot out there.

More from Pictures. . .

So I've been looking on YouTube for various groups playing movements from Pictures at an Exhibition. . .I didn't find very much but this is what I did find.

Some tuba/euphonium choir playing The Old Castle (they have a nice sound)
VMT Brass Choir playing Great Gate of Kiev (it's umm. . . . .something)

Alternative Brass just keeps coming. . . Blast!

I guess one could argue if Blast is or is not a brass chamber group.  It is an brass ensemble with percussion and  color guard. But the brass line is usually around 36+ members. Well, I'm going to act like it is a brass chamber group and talk about the types of  and arrangements they play.
But first, a description of Blast. Blast is an combination of many elements. 
1) Marching Band/Drum corps element.
-all brass horn line (trumpets, mellophones, french horns, trombones, marching baritones, euphonium, and tubas)
-battery (snares, tenors and basses)
-colorguard (flag, rifle, sabre and other equipment)
-pit (usually keyboards, tympani, various other non-pitched percussion) 
2) Broadway Show element
-lights and special effects
-two acts with an intermission
3)  The Show

Act One

Act Two

  • Color Wheel Too - (J. Vanderkolff)
  • Gee, Officer Krupke! (from West Side Story) - (L. Bernstein/S. Sondheim)
  • Lemontech - (J. Vanderkolff)
  • Tangerinamadidge - (B. Epperson/J. Vanderkolff)
  • Land of Make Believe - (C. Mangione)
  • Spiritual of the Earth
  • Marimba Spiritual/Earth Beat - (M. Miki)/(M. Spiro)
  • Malaguena- (E. Lecuona) 

Take a look at the music they play, it's all over the place: Classical, Jazz, Musicals, Ballet, etc.
All of these pieces are arrangements, I don't think there is a full version of any of these pieces, 
however I think most of these arrangements could be played by a brass band in a concert setting. 
Listen to Simple Gifts, I could easly hear a Brass Choir do it (actually I have, and I did the arrangement).
What makes this alternative is that they play at such a high level while marching, dancing and moving
around. I think one could almost think of this as a larger Boston Brass or Mnozil, Blast does the
same type of entertainment, just on a much larger scale.

More alternative brass. . .

I think I might just change my blog topic to Alternative Brass Transcriptions. . . 
I know everyone in the class has seen this video, but i think it's something that should be brought up when talking about brass transcriptions and arrangements. The group I'm talking about is the Mnozil Brass. The Mnozil Brass provide entertainment with a high quality  of brass playing. They play in all styles of music: pop, classical, jazz, etc.  We have all seen them play Bohemian Rhapsody, which is excellent by the way, but they also done a version of Peter Gun, which has some awesome sounds coming from the trombones. They have also done a whole bunch of jazz tunes, which I can't tell if they are arrangement or originals tunes. But all their music is over the top.
I think this is a group that is dedicated to entertaining the audience. From their  web site, "We play applied brass music for people from all walks of live." And I think they do a great job at it. If you want to see more of them, just type in Mnozil Brass into youtube, there are plenty of videos.

It just isn't the same without the euphonium playing the solo. . .

Here is a link to the Korea Brass Choir playing Holst 2nd suite in F. I think the arrangement and the group are really good (although I think they should have used a euphonium, my unbiased opinion).

Korea Brass- part one; 1st and 2nd movements
Korea Brass- part two: 3rd and 4th movements

"Light" classical?

What is "light" classical? This was a dilemma that my tuba-euphonium quartet come across when we were preparing for ITEA tuba/quartet competition held this summer. One of the pieces we had to prepare was a light classical transcription. The problem was that we didn't know what that meant. Did they want a piece that was from the classical period (1750-1820) or was it meant to mean something from a broad area of the classical world. We looked at a lot of different pieces: Bach's fugues, a Bruckner ave maria, a couple of overtures but nothing seem to fit. It wasn't until we played the overture from Mozart's The Magic Flute that I came up with an idea that work pretty well. I've pretty much been in love with the Queen of the Night Aria from the Magic Flute since I've first heard it. I've also heard a really good arrangement for brass choir and piccolo trumpet. It was off the Burning River Brass "Of Knights and Castles" CD. It was arranged by Michael Allen with Ryan Anthony playing the piccolo trumpet. When my quartet played the overture from the opera it gave me the idea to try and arrange this piece for two euphoniums and two tubas. The arrangement turn out really well, the quartet liked it as well as our coach John Manning.  I guess my point is that there isn't a lot of material out there for our genre, so if you can't find something that fits then go out and arrange it yourself.

On a side note here are two videos from youtube of the aria:
This first one is of a little soprano boy singing the aria. Click here.
The second is of Diana Damrau playing the Queen and singing the Aria. Click here.

Monday, April 21, 2008

An Alternative Form of Brass Chamber Music

Quite a few years ago two of my friends and I formed a euphonium trio. It was for a one time concert, the second half of a senior recital. This trio was a little different from traditional chamber groups, meaning we got our music from 1980's heavy mental/rock bands.  This group consisted of five members: 3 euphoniums, 1 drummer, and one singer. The way the arrangements worked out was the first and second euphonium's would play the guitar parts and the 3rd euphonium would play the bass part (I was played the third part). 
We called ourselves Il Dissphonio.  We wore ripped up jeans and torn Megadeath and Black Sabbath T-Shirts and we rocked out.  
We came up with this idea one day in a car ride over spring break. We were listening to some music and jokingly came up with an idea of  "How cool would it be to play this stuff on our euphoniums?" The more we thought about it the more were actually liked the idea. About a year later we made it work.
The arrangements were crude at best. We would all gather around the CD player and listen to the form, bass lines, guitar lines and figure them out and played along with the recordings. There was a lot of improve involved.  We even experimented with using a silence brass system. We would hook the silence brass system to an amp and we were able to get some really cool sounds. The problem that came up was that the cords we were using weren't the best quality, and the slightest movement would cause feedback. So we joked that this performance was our "unplug" performance. 
I'll admit that the performance wasn't the cleanest thing I've ever played in my life, but it was definitely one of the funner moments I've had on stage, at times you almost felt like a rock star. It had a lot of energy and the crowd loved it.
The three pieces we played were:
Crazy Train by Ozzy Osbourne
Cats in the Cradle by Ugly Kid Joe
War Pigs by Black Sabbath

You can listen to these pieces on our my space page.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Tubby the Tuba

So this last weekend I played trombone with the Eastern Iowa Brass Band.  Along with quite a few original pieces we also did some arrangements and transciptions of various pieces.  One of the pieces we played was an arrangement of Tubby the Tuba. The story was written by Paul Tripp and the music was written by George Kleinsinger. The tuba solo was played by John Manning and Narrated by Bob Gibbs  The story is of a tuba, Tubby, who never gets the melody and is always playing um-pa's, when he tries to play the melody, the orchestra ridicules him and makes him feel ashamed. After the rehearsal, Tubby is walking down by a river and this frog come and cheers Tubby up and teaches him a song. Tubby takes the song back to his orchestra and ends up playing for the orchestra and in the end everyone loves him. 

I found on youtube a cartoon from 1947 of the original version. Click here for that version.

One of things I noticed was where all the non-brass solo's in the original went to in a brass band:
Piccolo- 1st Eb cornet soloist
bass clarinet (frog)- bass trombone with a bucket mute.

After  hearing the original I thought that the arranger of the Brass Band arrangement did a really nice job bringing over all the different colors that was part of the larger orchestra.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

John Stevens

Three of the pieces I contributed to the ABEL master list of chamber music pieces are works for tuba/euphonium quartet by John Stevens. These pieces are Power, Music 4 Tubas, and Dances. He wrote these pieces when he was working on his Masters at Yale between 1973-1975. All three of these pieces are still a standard in the repertoire. However, Power seems to be a favorite by most groups. 
Power is a shorter piece (under 1:30 minutes) but it is really fast paced. 
Music 4 Tubas is a 3 movement work (about 8 minutes)
I. Lively
II. Chorale
III. Rock
Dances is a single movement work divided into three parts, (Fast, Slow, Fast). 

Listening Project

Here is a list of pieces I played for our listening project. The ones with stars next to them are ones I didn't get to.

1) Pictures at an Exhibition: Bydlo Mussorgsky, Modest Petrovich (1839-1881) Burning River Brass Russian Carnival

2) Pictures at an Exhibition: Baba Yaga   Mussorgsky, Modest Petrovich (1839-1881)   Philip Jones Brass Ensemble Brass Splendour

*3) The Marriage of Figaro Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus (1756-1791) Monarch Tuba-Euphonium Quartet Metamorphosis

4) Queen Of The Night'S Aria From "The Magic Flute" Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus (1756-1791) Burning River Brass Of Knights & Castles

5) Ain't Misbehavin' Waller, Fats Empire Brass Braggin' In Brass - Music Of Duke Ellington, Etc.

*6) Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy Raye, Don Empire Brass Braggin' In Brass - Music Of Duke Ellington, Etc.

7) Porgy & Bess: Summertime Gershwin, George Atlantic Brass Quintet En Concert

*8)The Earle of Oxford's March Byrd, William, arr. Howarth Chicago Brass Choir Pictures in Brass

9) Scythian Suite (Mvt. 2): The Evil God and Dance of Pagan Monsters Prokofiev, Sergei Burning River Brass Russian Carnival

10) Concertino in A Minor, Op. 94 Shostakovich, Dmitri (1906-1975) Burning River Brass Russian Carnival

*11) Toccata & Fuge BMV568 - Toccata Bach, Johann Sebastian (1685-1750) German Brass Best of German Brass

*12) Toccata & Fuge BMV568 - - Fuge Bach, Johann Sebastian (1685-1750) German Brass Best of German Brass

Monday, March 3, 2008

Where can you find Cd's and Sheet music?

Here are some sites where you can buy either recordings of various brass groups or sheet music of various pieces:

Tap Music sales:
This site has well over 100 CD's of Brass Chamber Music

www.Amazon.com has almost 2000 CD's of brass chamber music. A lot of brass transcriptions can be found here.

Hickey's Music center Online
This is a great place to find CDs or printed music.

ITEA has it own publishing company at
Good place to find tuba/ euphonium chamber works

Monday, February 4, 2008

Pictures. . .part 1

So I'm currently playing the tenor tuba part (or alto tuba, if you ask the conductor) on Bydlo from Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, arranged by Ravel.  And I have been listening to a number of orchestra's play this trying to get different interpretations of the movement. My favorite, by the way, is Solti conducting the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (it is really good!!!). 
Along the way I happened to find a couple of brass ensembles either doing an entire transcription of the piece or parts of it. So I figured I would listen to them and write about them on this blog, especially how they played Bydlo.
The first group is Chicago Brass Choir. They played the a lot of the movements from Pictures on their album "Pictures In Brass."  They leave out The Old Castle, Samuel Goldenberg und Schmuyle, and The Marketplace at Limoges. It is arranged by Michael Stewart, the musical director of the group. It says in the liner notes that he took the arrangement from the piano score and not any orchestrated version.  
I think overall the choir has a really nice sound.  The euphonium soloist (Tom Fritz) in the 2nd promenade sounds amazing. I think some of the faster movements, Gnomes and Tuileries are a little on the slow side. In this arrangement, bydlo is played by what seems to be the entire horn section (maybe with  trombones).   This wouldn't be the first time that someone used horns on this solo, Stokowski also used  horns in his transcription. The horns have alot more dynamic contrast then a lot of other recordings I've heard. I like what the arranger did with the promenade after the catacombs. In order to get a different color,  the trumpets are playing on all sorts of different mutes: cup, straight, and maybe even a harmon mute? It  really is a neat effect.  I think that movement is one of my favorites. I also thought that baba- yaga was a little on the slow side. I'm listening to it and I want it to go faster, but that is my own personal preference. 
So overall, I think that the Chicago Brass Choir have a great sound and they blended very well. My only down point is that I  wanted to hear faster movements at faster. I think it might have been a little cooler if they were able to do the entire Pictures and not just three quarters of it. 
Since this blog ended up longer then what I figuered, I'm going to leave the other two recording I have to other blogs. 
Until then,

Sunday, January 27, 2008

My first blog. . . . .

Hello. My name is Paul Miller. I am a graduate student at the University of Iowa where I am getting my Master's degree in euphonium performance. I had to create a blog for a chamber brass literature class I am taking. I need to post two blogs a week about about a topic of my choice, which I think will be about brass transcriptions. That's about it for now, and I'll get back later this week.