Berlin
, 16. January 2016
Examining a Traditional Genre

The Brass Orchestra and its Music Styles

Brass music is a very traditional music that can look back upon a long history. What characterizes brass music, how did brass orchestras develop and which kinds of brass bands are staffed nowadays? We start the search for traces.

x-working The term brass orchestra includes several forms of musicians.
The term brass orchestra includes several forms of musicians.

Brass bands include all styles, in which wind instruments are used. These include, for example, Alta Musica, hunting horn ensembles, horn quartets, brass quintets, wise blowers, harmony music, brass orchestras / brass bands, the Janissary music, Italian Banda, the evangelical trombone choir and marching bands as well as fanfare corps. Classical instruments of brass bands are trumpets, horn, trombone, tuba or woodwind instruments such as flute, oboe or bassoon.

Already in the 18th century, at the time of the French Revolution, the first band evolved. These were mainly choral, what means that they were repeatedly staffed with multiple orchestra parts. This way one achieves a specific timbre in the orchestra. At celebrations of the revolution or later at Napoleon´s triumphal marches brass orchestras were used for musical accompaniment. In the 19th century the Viennese instrument maker Joseph Felix Riedl invented the rotary and cylinder valves for brass instruments that are in use today. Since that time brass instruments have been created chromatically and can be staffed chorally in the orchestra. The development of the valves led to a revolution in wind music. The forerunners of the tenor horn, the baritone and the tuba, were formed at that time.

The brass band proves to be diverse, both in staffing as well as in the respective literature played. It's the same regarding international terms of a brass band. In German-speaking countries one often uses the word "brass band", while in Austria rather a "wind ensemble" is applied. In France they say "Orchestre d`Harmonie" and in the Netherlands one talk about the "Harmonieorkest". By contrast, in the English-speaking world one refers to "Wind Ensemble", "Concert Band" or "Military Band".

One thinks of a symphonic wind orchestra in case the cast is more versatile opposed to a classic band. Here in addition to classical instruments such as flutes, clarinets, saxophones, trumpets, horns and trombones also bassoons, bass clarinets, double bass, piano and harp are staffed. Symphonic wind music is often staged in concertante rooms or it is preferably utilized for film music.

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