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Noah Brode

Baron von Munchausen, Or, Munchausen's Narrative of His Marvellous Travels and Campaigns in Russia

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BRODE - Baron von Munchausen - Program Notes.pdf

BRODE - Baron von Munchausen, Or, Munchausen's Narrative of His Marvellous Travels and Campaigns in Russia.mp3

BRODE - Baron von Munchausen - Revised Score.pdf

Here's my submission for the Winter Competition. It's a playful take on the German tall tales of Baron von Munchausen, written for concert band. It's my first serious attempt at writing for this ensemble. Any feedback is always welcome. Enjoy!

EDIT: A revised score has been added; many thanks to Adrian Quince for the pointers.

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Very nice, I really enjoyed listening to this.  For me at least, it was hard to follow the discrete elements of the story in the first half (the sections to my ear sounded pretty similar in content) but was far clearer in the second half starting with the Baron's stint in the Russian army.   Great choice of subject which to my knowledge, I'm not aware of other examples even though the subject certainly makes a great basis for a musical setting.

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Really beautiful scenery in your music. You use the orchestra very well. I love the colors you use, and the changes in rhythm throughout the entire piece. At times heroic and inspiring, other times mysterious and breathy. You totally captured the silly militarism of Munchausen.  I also love the klezmer that occasionally pops up. My favorite vignette was "The Snowy Village". It really sets the right mood, reminds me a bit of Scheherazade.  Well done all around!

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Bkho - Thanks for the compliments! The Munchausen stories are so vivid and fun, it seemed like a shame that there weren't any musical interpretations of them (that I know of). To be honest, I had to kind of rush out the production of the 'boar' and 'horse' sections, because I knew I wouldn't have time to finish them before the deadline if I didn't complete them by this weekend. They're probably my least favorite parts too. 

 

Seni-G - Thanks! That's an especially nice compliment, since I've always thought of orchestration as one of my big weaknesses. I did kind of fall in love with the saxophones as I was writing this. Rimsky-Korsakov is one of my all-time favorites, so Sheherezade may have shined through unknowingly! 

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Hi Noah,

Nicely done! I love the story and they way the musical textures track with it. Also, very nice use of the colors of the wind ensemble for variety.

A couple of cautions about the saxophones: Alto and tenor saxes above more than two ledger lines above the staff (transposed) project a lot. This can be fine in a solo passage, but high saxophones can dominate tutti textures (and not in a good way). Also, note that intonation in that register for saxes is problematic as they tend to go sharp trying to maintain the compression needed for those notes.

Finally, there are conventions for wind bands that are different from orchestral writing. Some comments on band-specific things in the score:

General

1. When possible, favor flat keys over sharps. Db and Gb are highly preferrable to C# and F# for a band, and even Cb can be easier to read than B if you use a lot of E#s and B#s. Remember that the transposing instruments in a band universally add sharps, so a key signature that starts with sharps gets gnarly pretty fast.

2. Check the spelling of your lines after transposing. A line in all sharps in concert pitch will start producing double sharps when transposed.

Instrument-specific

1. The piccolo is notated with a standard treble clef. The octave transposition is assumed. Using the transposing treble clef may introduce a question as to which octave the part should be played in.

2. The current practice is to group all double reeds together from high to low, so Bassoons would go immediately below Oboes. This makes it clearer for the conductor to distinguish WW families by sight.

3. Bass Clarinet is always in treble clef, written up M9 from concert pitch. Bass clef is no longer routinely taught to bass clarinetists, even in universities.

4. Trumpets go above Horns in a wind ensemble score (opposite from orchestra). This arranges the brass from high to low.

5. Trumpets are always in Bb. Many wind band trumpet players will not even own a C Trumpet.

6. Horns are always in treble clef, regardless of ledger lines.

7. When you get the opportunity to perform this, please provide both treble clef (in Bb, up M9) and bass clef (concert pitch) Euphonium parts. The players will thank you!

8. The key of the Tuba should not be specified. Most wind ensemble tuba players will be playing a BBb, since that provides the largest sound to support the band. Some will use an oversized Eb to do the same thing, but it's not something to count on. CC and F tubas are rarer in bands since they are harder to tune with the Bb brass (trumpets, trombones, and euphonium).

9. Always write ledger lines below the staff for the tubas in their parts. It is acceptable to use 8vb in a score to minimize ledger lines. The transposing bass clef should not be used for this purpose.

10. You might get something unexpected when writing x noteheads for the Snare Drum. Some drummers will see that an assume it's on the rim. (If there was a specific effect for the x noteheads, I didn't see it called out.)

11. Snare and Bass Drum can share a 5-line percussion staff. Place bass drum in the first space, stems down; place snare drum in the third space, stems up. This is a common convention dating from the Sousa era.

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Hi @Adrian Quince -- Thanks for such good advice! Your comments will be a big help to me when I do a revision on this piece.

It seems there are lots of stylistic differences between wind band and orchestra (plus other things I was just plain ignorant of). 

Would a soprano sax part be preferable for those higher passages? 

Also, I'd meant for that 'x' snare part to be played on the rim alone for a kind of clicking sound. I guess I should notate that, haha. 

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4 hours ago, Noah Brode said:

It seems there are lots of stylistic differences between wind band and orchestra (plus other things I was just plain ignorant of). 

Would a soprano sax part be preferable for those higher passages? 

Also, I'd meant for that 'x' snare part to be played on the rim alone for a kind of clicking sound. I guess I should notate that, haha.

Hi Noah,

I think it's not so much stylistic as technical and notation differences. Unfortunately, while there are tons of materials written on the conventions for orchestra, there is comparatively little on conventions for concert band. As a conductor, I see frustratingly little standardization in things like score layouts. For example, I've seen the bassoon in three different spots in different scores!

Anyway, for the saxophones, I don't think it's necessary to add a soprano since that instrument is not consistently available. It'd probably make more sense to bring things down an octave in some spots and realize they're going to be prominent in others.

Edited by Adrian Quince
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Hi Noah,

The revised score is a much easier read. Nice job on the revision.

Only thing I see is that your Piccolo isn't transposing down an octave correctly in spots.

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