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Sunday, 26 May 2013

Brass Band

The instruments of a brass band usually include (in descending order of pitch) the cornet, flugelhorn, tenor horn, B flat baritone, euphonium, trombone, and bombardon (bass tuba), as well as drums and other percussion as needed. While they are usually made of brass today, in the past they were made of wood, horn, and glass.

Many countries have brass bands (which differ from military bands in having no woodwind instruments), but it was in Britain that a particularly strong tradition developed of amateur bands linked with places of work, particularly in Lancashire and Yorkshire. In England the brass band began to replace the earlier bands of the town waits (public musicians) and of village churches at the beginning of the 19th century. Employers in industrial areas encouraged the formation of such bands, in an apparent effort to distract workers from politics in their leisure time.

The Stalybridge Old Band, established by 1814, is usually quoted as the first brass band.

The development of the cornopean, a predecessor of the cornet, and of a family of brass instruments with similar fingering invented by the French instrument builder Adolphe Sax facilitated the adoption of brass instruments by amateur players and the growth of brass bands in northern England.

In Salisbury, England, Charles Fry of the Salvation Army and his three sons formed a brass quartet in 1878, which proved to be a great attraction at meetings. It also was a good way of dealing with hecklers.

By 1900 in England, band concerts were regular events in village life. Many factories organized employees' bands. An employee would work at a job in the factory and then "double in brass" in the company band.

Louis Armstrong was 13 when he celebrated the New Year by running out on the street and firing a pistol that belonged to the current man in his mother's life. At the Colored Waifs Home for Boys, he learned to play the bugle and the clarinet and joined the home's brass band.

Some classical composers have written for the brass bands, including Edward Elgar in his Severn Suite (1930) and Grimethorpe Aria (1973) by Harrison Birtwistle.

"The Floral Dance" famously featured in the 1996 film Brassed Off. The original piece was written by Katie Moss, a classically trained musician and singer who studied at the Royal Academy Of Music,  and was first recorded in 1912, by the Australian classical singer Peter Dawson. The best known recording is probably the instrumental version recorded by the Brighouse & Rastrick Brass Band.

Souces Hutchinson, Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia © 1998 The Learning Company, Inc.

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