The wind band is perhaps the most misunderstood of the major musical ensembles. All areas of musical composition, harmony, counterpoint, rhythm, etc., apply equally to the orchestra and the wind band save one – orchestration. Even the name implies that it is different. The word derives from composing for orchestra.
However, a band is different from an orchestra.
Most composers do not realize that if they want to write music for a large orchestra, performance opportunities are limited. Even if an orchestra performs your piece, the chance of someone else doing a repeat performance is virtually non-existent. However, bands are different. Bands at both the secondary school and college level, and even the few professional bands that exist, beg for more music. A college-level band is almost assured of doing several new works every year. Many of the works hailed as brilliant in the band world, wouldn’t pass muster in the orchestral world.
There’s a reason bands are starving for good music. Composers have often thought of it as a lesser medium than the orchestra, but a medium is only as good as the talent working with it. Great art can come from anywhere. True band masterpieces are waiting to be written.
Over the span of this course, I hope to present the first modern text on orchestrating for wind band – bandestration. Over the past few years, I have built up a large encyclopædia of instrumentation for wind instruments, but I have yet to tackle the more complex art of orchestrating.
Next: What is a Band?