To kick start the series of Big Brass Day events, NYMAZ gathered professional musicians in consultation with young brass players, with the purpose of sharing ideas around the theme of inspirational people. Participants’ creative thoughts will help shape a brand-new piece of brass music, to be written by composer Liz Lane, and later performed by the young people themselves.
Top British composer Liz Lane led the session, assisted by renowned saxophonist Jess Gillam, Black Dyke Band’s principal tenor horn player Siobhan Bates and Kate Lock, founder of all-female brass band Femmes Fortissimo.
The consultation began with each participant introducing themselves and saying what instruments they play, which ranged from the glockenspiel to the trumpet. Those present also shared who they found inspiring (it often appeared to be fierce competitiveness with siblings which led musicians to pick up an instrument) and any initial ideas each had for the composition. Very quickly it was established that they wanted the piece to be unique but impressive to instantly catch people’s attention, with participants commenting that the music should have the drama of a film score. Siobhan Bates commented that she always likes a danceable piece, which led to the group deciding on a catchy, underlying ostinato that runs throughout the piece, tying it together. Liz drew out each participants’ thoughts carefully, asking questions around different musical elements such as timbre, tempo, and structure. An interesting comment from Jess Gillam about comparing a piece of music to a friend led to a flurry of suggestions about the idea of depicting an argument within the ensemble. Liz asked for the group’s thoughts on structure for the composition; polyphony, syncopation, and cross-rhythms were all mused over to portray this argumentative piece and as tools for structure. It was proposed to start in the low instruments and build through to a peak of the confrontation before ending harmoniously as the argument is resolved.
The group agreed that it would be intriguing to mix up the traditional roles that instruments typically have in a brass band, for instance giving the lower brass the melody and trumpets the accompaniment. It was a consensus however that all instruments be given the opportunity to show off at some point! Another idea which was widely liked was to include a percussion section, but using only common household items instead of recognised musical instruments. The group discussed how this would fit well with having to record a video performance of the piece in everyone’s homes.
The hour-long session was an incredible experience, as people who would perhaps never otherwise meet freely bounced ideas off each other – we cannot wait to see how the composition turns out!
Book your place on the next Big Brass Day event where this composition will be workshopped alongside Liz Lane and Femmes Fortissimo! All tickets are free. For more details and to book your space click here.
Big Brass Day events are created in collaboration with Brass Bands England and the North Yorkshire Music Hub, with funding from Youth Music and Arts Council England.
Written by NYMAZ Young Ambassador - Music Journalist - Lucy Pullan