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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.

 

Free Scores

Compositions for full band
Chorale style exercises

Compositions for brass


Compositions for full Band

Peter's March
Song Without Words
La Regata
Albinoni's Adagio

Here is a free march scored for full concert band. The following are the first 10 bars in condensed score format (written in concert pitch) to give you some idea of the music. The level of difficulty is about grade 4.

Peter's March

You can download the music here. There are two files: Peters March Conductors score.pdf (990 kb) and Peters March parts.zip (1,519kb).

 


 

Chorale style exercises

Introduction
Scoring
Intonation Exercise #1
Intonation Exercise #2
Intonation Exercise #3
Intonation Exercise #4
Intonation Exercise #5

 


Introduction

The chorale-style music provided here has been written to address two of the most important problems facing Asian bands trying to improve their intonation skills. These problems are:

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Most chorales - especially those written by Bach - have Christian lyrics associated with them. This often makes band members who are Buddhists, Muslims, Sikhs or members of other religions uncomfortable. In some bands it also amounts to a strong disincentive to using this music to improve listening and intonation skills.

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Young bands that do play chorales rarely seem to make the mental connection between the intonation exercise represented by the chorale and any other music they play.

 

I have therefore posted a series of chorale-style pieces for wind band on this website that I have written myself. Thus, they have no words or other religious associations beyond that inherent in the style itself.  All are composed in the style of J. S. Bach following the traditional rules of voice leading, and include chord progressions used repeatedly by composers for centuries. These "chorales" are also graded in complexity, beginning with simple diatonic chord progressions in block harmony with no modulations, to ones including passing notes and more complex harmonies.

And to address the second of the two problems mentioned above, each chorale is accompanied by a short piece in a completely different style using exactly the same chord progressions in the chorale. Except for a change of rhythm, the bass line remains unaltered. This is consistent with the theories of Francis McBeth and others, who argue that bands should tune from the lowest voice.

I have released these scores into the public domain. They may be freely copied and distributed on a noncommercial basis provided the music remains unchanged and the composer is acknowledged.

 


Scoring

In order to ensure that these pieces can be played by small bands that may lack several of the standard wind band instruments, I have strictly adhered to the following scoring scheme. Thus, by means of careful substitution, even a very small ensemble of brass, woodwinds, or even saxophones can play in four part harmony.

 

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Soprano: Flute, Oboe, Clarinet 1, Alto Saxophone 1, Trumpet 1.

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Alto: Clarinet 2, Alto Saxophone 2, Trumpet 2, French Horn 1.

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Tenor: Tenor Saxophone, French Horn 2, Trombones,

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Bass: Baritone Saxophone, Euphonium, Tuba, Bass Clarinet.

 

Because of its comparative rarity in small bands, a bassoon part has not been provided. If you have a bassoon player, get him to play the euphonium part. Alto clarinet players can play the (lower) alto saxophone part.

 


Intonation Exercise #1

The following zip file contains a complete set of parts for wind band, including a conductor's score, in PDF format. The conductor's score also indicates to the band director which notes may to be out of tune, based on common design flaws in the various instruments. The file is Chorale1-Complete.zip.

For those interested in checking out the piano score first, here it is:

This chorale has a waltz associated with it. It is in the same key as the chorale and uses the same chord progressions. The following zip file contains a complete set of parts for wind band, including a conductor's score, in PDF format. The file is Waltz-Complete.zip. Please accept my apologies. I did not include the bass clarinet parts for either piece earlier. If you want the bass clarinet parts, download them here.


Intonation Exercise #2

This next exercise makes use of a different set of chord progressions. Once again, the conductor's score indicates to the band director which notes may be out of tune based on the known intonation flaws of the various instruments. Here is the piano score:

This time I have written a little gavotte (classical French dance) style piece to go with the chorale. It is in the same key and uses the same chord progressions. The following zip file contains a complete set of parts for both pieces, including a conductor's score, in PDF format. The file is intonation2-complete.zip (Size = 570 kb). Please accept my apologies. I did not include the bass clarinet parts for either piece earlier. If you want the bass clarinet parts, download them here.


Intonation Exercise #3

This chorale does not modulate, but it includes two chromatically altered chords often used by composers to add harmonic colour. Actually, they are not essential. Get the band to play the piece with and without the accidentals so they will become aware of the difference the chromatic notes make. Here is the piano score:

I have written a sarabande (another of the dances in the Classical suit) to go with this chorale. As usual, it is written in the same key as the chorale and uses the same chord progressions. The following zip file contains a complete set of parts for both pieces, including a conductor's score, in PDF format. The file is intonation3-complete.zip (file size: 583 Kb). Please accept my apologies. I did not include the bass clarinet parts for either piece earlier. If you want the bass clarinet parts, download them here.

For those interested in the theory, here it is: The chromatically altered chord in the third bar is a secondary dominant based on the supertonic (G7), first inversion.  The chord in the sixth bar is a supertonic seventh with flattened fifth (Gm7b5), also in first inversion.


Intonation Exercise #4

At last, an exercise in a minor key! I have included several modulations and suspensions in this chorale to make it more interesting than the others. Here is the piano score:

I have associated this exercise with a nocturne written in the style of nineteen century pianists such as Chopin and Field. As usual, it is in the same key and uses the same chord progressions as the chorale. However, in order to accommodate the nocturne style, I have had to make some adjustments to the scoring scheme. You will need have alto saxophone or euphonium players of at least moderate ability in order to play the accompanying figuration properly.

The following zip file contains a complete set of parts for both pieces, including a conductor's score, in PDF format. The file is Intonation4-complete.zip (file is about  600kb). Please accept my apologies. I did not include the bass clarinet parts for either piece earlier. If you want the bass clarinet parts, download them here.


Intonation Exercise #5

For this exercise I have switched to a new key signature. There are also several modulations. A particular feature of this chorale is the accented passing notes in the bass line (bar 6). Here is the piano score:

Due to time constraints, I have not written an accompanying piece. However, a complete set of parts for the chorale is available in PDF format. The file is Intonation5-chorale5.zip.

 


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