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Suggested Reading

1. Rehearsal Rooms

Struggling to improve the acoustics in your band room? Check out how the Medan Band did it.

2. Concerned about playing swing music properly?

Check out my guidelines

3. Ear training exercises for bands

Unlike piano players, ear training is essential for wind band performers. But how many band directors bother to give their bands suitable exercises?

4. Intonation problems

While tuning is simple act of adjusting a length of tubing on a wind instrument (often by reference to a single note), intonation is an ongoing process in which a player strives to match the pitch of others in the ensemble during performance. 

5. “Blowing” a wind instrument

A common misconception among wind players is to believe that the air moves through the instrument in order to produce the sound. This is simply not true. 

6. Conducting – suggestions for home practice

The best way for a conductor to improve is in front of a live ensemble. The unfortunate reality, however, is that this is not always possible. Aspiring conductors therefore have little choice but to find other ways of honing their skills.

 

Exposition (Sections 2-10)

First Subject
Bridge
Second Subject


First Subject

Despite the A minor chord in bar 14 and the absence of any sharps or flats in the key signature, the first subject introduced by the trombones (section 2) is not in A minor but A Dorian. Notice the absence of leading note G# and the presence of the F# played by the first trombone.

The scale on which the passage is based is:

The trombones introduce the first subject, which consists of the repeated two-bar phrase given below. This is later taken up by the saxophones and the horns:

Gorb has NOT placed an accent over the syncopated notes in the second bar of the above example. However, it seems perfectly consistent with much of the jazz and swing tradition to do so. It will also help to bring the music to life.

Throughout this and the following sections, each statement of the theme is punctuated by little interludes, played by either the woodwinds or the remaining brasses (see bars 20, 26-28, 36,39).  Then something very unusual happens.  In the middle of section 5 we suddenly hear a few bars of a new melody (bars 43-48) played by the trumpets and trombones and then repeated by the saxophones and the clarinets.

But instead of dominating the music (and thus becoming the second subject) it quickly fades away. This theme becomes far more important later in the development section.  Much thought should go into the way it is played here so that it is consistent rhythmically with other sections where this figure occurs.


Bridge

The bridge announces its presence at section 6 with a complete change of mood and style built on a Bb major seventh chord.  Teasingly, the first subject returns briefly at section 7, this time played by the trumpets and horns, only to be cut off by a change of metre (to 3/4) and the sounding of a B major chord (bars 63-64).  The B in both the piano and the other lower parts must be clearly heard since it signals the modulation to E major.


Second Subject

As is usual in sonata form, the second subject appears in the dominant key -- concert E major.  In section eight, this change of key is accompanied by yet another abrupt change of style. The second subject opens as follows:

Note the request that this section be played dolce (sweetly). A great deal of legato playing is required here of all players. Take care to shape the short phrases well. As in the case of the first subject, the composer has introduced little interludes. Watch that the tied notes in bars 67-78 and 82-92 (tubas, piano, bassoon, trombone etc) are given their full value. The saxophones play the second subject, followed by an interlude (bars 77-79), after which the flutes and oboes take up the melody.  A second interlude (bars 90-95) is quite important.  Harmonically, it brings us back to the original tonic (A), thus producing a brief sense of tranquillity in what is generally a very turbulent piece of music.  The expression marks at the cadence (which begins at bar 91 and ends at bar 98) should therefore be milked for all they are worth.  The horns echo the second subject in the tonic key.  Keywords in performance are peace, relaxation, and tranquillity.

Note the similarities between the harmonic and melodic structure of what follows (bars 92-101):

with an earlier transition passage (bars 75-79):

 Harmonically, the key to understanding these passages is to realize that the important sections are built on a major seventh chord.  The placement of the seventh on the first beat of the bar suggests that Gorb wants to emphasize it (e.g. A# in the saxophones, bar 76, B natural in the flutes, bar 100).  This – after all -- is the note that gives the chord is “tear jerking” character.  I suggest that the players be encouraged lean a little on this note whenever this figure occurs (also bar 92 in trumpets and trombones).  There is real emotion, almost sadness, here.

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