[NEWSLETTER of DAVID E. SMITH PUBLICATIONS, LLC]
NEWSLETTER of DAVID E. SMITH PUBLICATIONS, LLC
NEWSLETTER of DAVID E. SMITH PUBLICATIONS, LLC
VOL 10, NO 4, Winter, 2008
© 2008 Copyright of David E. Smith Publications
All Rights Reserved. Made in U.S.A.
Table of Contents
The Publishers' Space
The Brass Space
The Lone Arranger Space
Guest Writer's Space
Preach Christ Always
And As A Last Resort
St. Francis of Assisi
THE PUBLISHER'S SPACE
by David E. Smith
During this time of an uncertain economy much of the music industry has been hit hard and it’s easy to get discouraged if one doesn’t keep a high perspective. News casts, as well as articles in the trade magazines, indicate the decline in music and the arts in general. As one piece on the evening news concluded, the tragedy is that it happens at a time when people need the arts the most- to lift the human spirit! In some recent discussion with our “Lines and Spaces®” editor, Harlow Hopkins, he suggested that we reflect on the many good things that have transpired in the production of sacred instrumental music, so here goes….
Even though we deal with a niche market, we have sold several hundred thousand pieces of music to churches, schools, dealers and individuals in every state and province in North American and two dozen foreign countries—that’s EXCITING!! But, there’s more!
Think of the thousands of players, conductors and teachers who perform all those pieces AND the huge numbers of folks who HEAR the music—we’re talking about MILLIONS of people now!! This brings great enthusiasm to the one hundred writers whose products are published by the eight companies listed at the end of this article.
While we don’t represent a high profit “industry,” in the sacred music publishing field there exists a closely-knit community as a result of the efforts of those involved in the process.
We have been fortunate to meet and work with a lot of committed Christians when we attend conventions, do exhibits, conduct, adjudicate and lecture at festivals as well as participate in commercial and association events. Those connections continue over the years as a result of organizations like the Christian Instrumentalists/Directors Association with the insights of founders like George Strombeck and Harlow Hopkins and the editorial work of Phil Norris who produced the “Sacred List.”
We are very fortunate to be involved in something so GRAND as conceptualizing, producing,
organizing and performing sacred music—music which exalts our Lord and Savior.
The list goes on and on! All of us, no matter what our line of work, have to be careful of not getting what I call, “The Elijah Syndrome,” where we think we’re the only one left who cares. God can quickly re-mind us, as He did Elijah, that there are multitudes out there that care about Him and His work. The more we interact with each other concerning our individual crafts, interests, and desires, the more we realize that there are a lot of us “in this together.” We are very fortunate to be involved in something so GRAND as conceptualizing, producing, organizing and performing sacred music—music which exalts our Lord and Savior.
As has been stated in past issues, we continue to add sound files and visual files to both of our web sites, www.despub.com and www.churchmusic.biz. In recent weeks they have been files demonstrating Christmas arrangements.
During the next month we will be adding hundreds of Easter files which will assist customers in the selection of music which will help make that high point in the Christian Calendar even more meaningful. Also, we are adding more details in the comment lines, “more information” links and “Hot Link” menu areas—all in an effort to serve our customers better.
David E. Smith Publications , LLC, Majestic Music Publications, Psalm 150 Publications, River Song Productions, Rich Heffler Music, Ken Baurer Productions, Light of the World Music and Stockton Music Services all join their voices in wishing you a “Meaningful Christmas” and a “Joyous, Prosperous, Happy New Year!”
To Table Of Contents
THE BRASS SPACE
by Phil Norris
Students will regularly ask, “How can I increase my endurance?” Good question. Here are some ideas.
Perhaps the best way to increase one’s endurance is with a slow, well-paced warm-up. I suggest adhering to the principles of “Low and Slow and Soft.” Rafael Mendez began with a few minutes of simply blowing air gently through the instrument (lips in the mouthpiece) without any buzz. He would then very quietly bring the lips together firmly enough to allow a faint sound. After this he would play low and slow notes with generous amounts of rest. Robert Nagal limits his warm-up to interval shifts of thirds in the early stages of playing. David Hicks (Arizona State) and James Thompson (Eastman) advocate extended mouthpiece buzzing in the early minutes of playing. Dale Clevenger (Chicago Symphony) will often begin his day with warm-water applications to the mouth followed by simple quiet mouthpiece buzzing of a few low, comfortable notes. All these ideas make good sense.
Unwise warm-ups include loud playing, fasting playing, high notes and ascending lip slurs. Playing in these ways too soon guarantees quick fatigue that results from rapid swelling of the lip and embouchure tissue. Thinking of brass playing as an athletic event, it makes sense to stretch out and relax the muscles, trying to promote good blood flow to the embouchure muscles when you start out. So for best endurance, patience, gentleness and quietness should govern the warm-up.
Once a good warm-up is done, the player should gradually increase upper range and volume beyond the low-slow-soft beginning stage. Descending lip slurs and moderate use of ascending lip slurs may be used at this time. I recommend lyrical flow studies after the initial warm-up before proceeding to more strenuous techniques.
After the warm-up, Maurice Andre advocates resting MORE than you play during the course of practicing. It’s better to have several shorter practice sessions throughout the course of a day than one long, continuous session. Of course, with many students this simply isn’t possible. What’s to be done when practice time is limited? Depending on how much time there is to practice, resting as much as you play is a good starting point. If the player has less than half an hour, it still makes sense to warm-up patiently and gradually, and then the embouchure can handle a more continuous amount of work for the balance of the time.
Some things players can do while resting the lips and yet making use of the practice time can include: singing the music, fingering the part while singing, studying the music for repeated material or other aspects of rhythm, melody and harmony that help in understanding the music as a whole, and generally looking for ways to make the playing easier and more musical.
In addition to rest, there are strengthening habits that will build endurance. First and foremost are lip slurs, and lip slurs of varying types. The types include: 1) slurring adjacent partials back and forth; 2) slurring straight up and straight down; and 3) slurring where you skip over partials using wider intervals (5ths, 6ths, 8vas). Players need to do some of each type as a matter of course in each practice session, but not too much. A certain amount will add strength; too much can harm. Or as Herbert L. Clarke put it, “The principle is the same as that of a physician prescribing three drops of medicine that will cure, whereas a spoonful will kill.” He recommended practicing vigorous exercises “very softly.” It’s good advice.
Playing pedal or extremely low registers in the course of each practice session also adds to endurance. This relaxes the tissue, promotes generous blood flow to the muscles and at the same time strengthens the tissues.
Playing a certain amount of high notes in the course of a day will add to endurance provided there are 1) adequate rest, 2) the air flow is not compressed, and 3) the right and efficient mechanics of lip motion.
Blowing full, relaxed and quantitative breath will aid endurance. Blowing too tightly reduces the quantity of air to the lips and as a result, the lips must contract more to create and sustain pitches. Blowing without compression also reduces mouthpiece pressure. Anytime you can reduce mouthpiece pressure on the lips, you will improve blood flow and the muscles will work more efficiently.
Doing “callisthenic” exercises with the mouth is another way to improve endurance. For example, you can do “lip clamps” where you form a very firm “m”, pressing the lips together and holding it for a few seconds, repeating the clamp, like you would bench pressing or working isometric exercises of other muscles groups in the body. As a variation, you can localize the clamp but squeezing starting at the far side and moving the squeeze to the opposite. You can also move the lips out and away from the mouth, then pull the corners back as additional stretch and press exercises. There is also a product available called ChopSticks [http://www.liemartech.com/Chop-Sticks/] which includes an exercise manual that will provide a gym-like workout for the embouchure.
I read recently that as demands on muscles increase, they grow new blood vessels to supply more blood. This occurs in any muscle anywhere in the body, including the mouth. So, a reasonable increase in demand on the embouchure will produce similar increase in blood efficiency to the tissues. Even in a few days of increased playing activity, most players will notice improved endurance, so long as there is adequate rest. Also, the proportions of stress and rest change with increasing age or activity level. As we age, muscle tone does diminish and more rest and careful warm-up are necessary. Very active players find that the normal levels of rehearsal and performance keep their endurance levels high, assuming adequate rest is had. All of these things will contribute to one’s overall endurance, but as stated at the outset, you cannot build endurance apart from adequate rest. The repeated stress-rest cycle of practicing is the only way to develop the embouchure. Too much stress and you do damage; too little stress and strength will not develop. Both are needed, and needed in the proportion right for each player. Some players need more rest than others, but everyone needs sufficient rest.
Phil Norris is Professor of Music at Northwestern College in St. Paul since 1993. He holds the DMA from the University of Minnesota, MM/Trumpet, Northwestern University and the BME from Grace College. He is also a musician, teacher and elder in his local church.
THE LONE ARRANGER'S SPACE
To Table Of Contents
by Dana F. Everson
The two most important times of the year for sacred musicians will never see the end of a need for fresh music arrangements. It is certainly good to continue creating new music (compositions), but the traditional hymns and songs of these holy-days could continue to feed, encourage, and teach until the Lord returns.
How can an arranger keep coming up with fresh ideas that don’t detract from the songs yet invite and challenge the listeners to ponder the truths of Christ’s birth/life and death/resurrection? Here are a few thoughts:
1. Re-read the Christmas accounts and the crucifixion/resurrection accounts.
There are surely details you haven’t noticed before that can add to the understanding of the traditional Christmas and Easter songs. Sometimes a small detail is enough to inspire a descant, or a countermelody, or a color combination in an arrangement. No matter how many arrangements of Silent Night you have attempted, can you really ever exhaust the wonder of that scene portrayed in the song? Each well-written hymn or gospel song is like a diamond. Walk around the song expecting it to glisten with sparkling aspects that might lead a listener closer to the Lord. Look for the background and details of the Scripture accounts which might offer a new perspective on the marvels of God’s gifts of the Redeemer and of His redeeming works. Sacred musicians should be diligent students of the Book of God!
2. Re-read the needs of people.
As society around us shifts in its beliefs, morals, behaviors, and tastes, sacred musicians and writers should look to see what kinds of music and arranging will help direct people to the Lord Who can meet the needs and challenges of life. We should never become detached from spiritual ministry. I am not suggesting we bend to every whim or musical fad…we should certainly try to keep high standards in our writing technique and in our approaches and choices of musical selections. But we should compose and arrange music that first of all pleases the ears of God, and secondly does something to lift up, teach, or challenge others to spiritual growth. Next time you attempt a sacred arrangement, ask yourself “How might this arrangement help both the players, the minister, the people in the pews?”
Sacred musicians should be diligent students of the book of People!
3. Review your own musical and spiritual growth.
Do you keep some kind of record of your writing? Look back and see how that early arrangement you did of Christ Arose could be improved or changed or rewritten now that you have grown as a musician. How have your life experiences changed your perspective or given you new appreciation for that song? Finally, you might ask, “How will this arrangement help ME to be closer to the Lord?”
Sacred musicians should be diligent students of the book of life!
I believe that if you will think along these lines and meditate on the principles, you will see a new creativity and a new motivation in your writing, even in those really well-known songs that might be otherwise a bit dull. May the Lord bless you as you consider these three “books” and how they might help you to be a better musician and a better servant!
Dana F. Everson holds: Associate of Arts--Delta College, the BME and Master’s in Saxophone Performance--Michigan State, Master of Sacred Music--Pensacola Christian College, and the Doctor of Sacred Ministry--Northland Baptist Bible College, with additional music studies at the University of Michigan and the California Institute of the Arts. He has over 350 published works.
by Harlow E. Hopkins, editor
An iPod for Christmas --Text: Luke 1:39-56 What’s On Your Christmas Playlist? Before he made it big in the music industry, country music star Travis Tritt spent many years playing out-of-the-way joints that could be downright dangerous places.
Drunk fans would start bar fights over the tiniest provocation. But Tritt says that he stumbled on a way to restore the peace in such moments. He says: “When things started getting out of hand, when bikers were reaching for their pool cues and rednecks were heading for the gun rack, I'd start playing 'Silent Night.'” It could be the middle of July—I didn't care.” But the effect was amazing. People would stop, sometimes in mid-swing. Some of them would “even start crying, standing there watching me sweat and play Christmas carols."(1)
It’s amazing, isn’t it, what power there is in certain songs? The right song can soothe the savage beast or whip a crowd into frenzy. The right song can stop you dead in your tracks or send you tumbling down the tunnel of time to a place you’d almost completely forgotten. Maybe it was for this reason that the great sixteenth century reformer, Martin Luther, once said: “Music is a glorious gift of God, very like to theology.”(2) Like theology, music is a sacred art and vessel through which God can pour his Light and Truth into this too often blind and deafened world.
I suspect that this is part of what is so wonderful about the Christmas season, don’t you think? There’s all this fabulous music. If you could put on your iPod or your old Victrola your absolutely favorite Christmas songs, what would be on your playlist? How many of you would have “Silent Night” on that list? How about “We Three Kings”? What about “O Little Town of Bethlehem”? Well, get ready, because we’re going to be singing all of those in the weeks ahead. We’re even going to sing Silent Night a cappella here on Christmas Eve, so start practicing! How many of you would like to sing “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer”? We will not be singing that one here, but go crazy on your own!
Now here’s a question for you: How many of us would think to put “Mary’s Song” or “Zechariah’s Ballad” on our playlist? What about the “Song of Simeon” or the “Angel’s Anthem”? I think it’s interesting that those songs don’t come to mind for most of us, maybe even ironic that they don’t, because they are actually the original Christmas carols. Somehow we’ve lost the melodies that first went along with them, but we still have the lyrics. Thankfully, our friend Luke (the man who preserved the stories of the Jesus People in the Book of Acts) kindly kept a record of these first songs that told of the true significance of Christ’s coming into this world. Today we’re going to cue them up together. I hope we’ll discover that they still have the power to stop a fight or stir us to action in service to that glorious king Who once came down at Christmas and is still on the move in the world today.
The song we’ll listen to today is, according to many scholars,
the most frequently sung song in all of human history. For centuries now,
this text has been sung in monasteries the world over
and is still a regular part of daily prayer in the Roman Catholic and Anglican church’s Vespers service. Unlike other psalms which are usually intoned in a very solemn way, this passage has almost always been set to a melody that emphasizes the tremendous JOY associated with the coming of Jesus. The famous church musician, Cesar Franck, is said to have composed 63 different settings for this one text. He had in mind 100, but he died before he could get them written. The Novello publishing house alone lists upwards of one thousand such settings by various composers. (3) In other words, if there were a countdown of the top ten music videos of the Bible, this one we’re about to explore together would come in at number one.
Do you know the more familiar title by which the Song of Mary goes? It’s derived from the key word in the opening line of the Latin form of the lyric. The word gets rendered here as “glorifies” but in most other Bible versions is translated “magni-fies.” For this reason the song is typically referred to as “The Magnificat.” For some reason and since I was a child, whenever I’ve hear that word, I’ve thought of magnification in the optical sense. I think back to Decembers long past when I sat shivering with my dad in the old Yankee Stadium, watching the New York Giants play football. I know I’ve said two bad words in that one sentence there, but SOLDIER on and BEAR with me, if you would!
As a little kid, it’s hard not to lose interest in almost any game after a while. That was particularly so for me watching those football games because I had an as yet undiagnosed astigmatism and most of what happened down there on the field was just a blur to me. But when I started to lose interest, my dad would sometimes pass me this old set of Bausch & Lomb binoculars he always brought to those games. I’d look through those lenses and suddenly see magnified a reality that woke me up all over again to the wonder of what was happening down there. The players were so massive and strong. The action was so fast and the clash of the opposing lines so fierce that it took my breath away to watch it.
Magnifying the GOD of Christmas
That’s what still happens for me when I look at Christmas. Sometimes, I feel like Christmas has just become a blur for me – a thing going on out there, a rushing and roaring tumult that I’m supposed to be excited about but which has lost its meaning for me. Does that ever happen for you? If it does, then I urge you to look through lenses like this amazing song of Mary’s provides, because what it shows us is Christmas Magnified to the tenth power. Every time you see someone write “X-mas” from now on, think of this.
When Mary looked at Christmas, two great realities filled her vision. The first reality is described in verses 46-50, and that reality was WHO was really on the field and was now calling her into the game. Mary caught an up-close glimpse of the massive strength and rippling glory of God himself on the move. For a moment, the very sight of it took her breath away and then filled Mary’s soul with song.
“My soul [magnifies] the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me--holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.”
To translate this, Mary is simply enraptured by the rolling musculature and magnificence of the nature of God. Somehow she is able to see past all those little godlet images people have – all those human-size pictures of God we develop – that “God is my best friend,” “God is the Big Man Upstairs,” “God is my co-pilot” way we have of conceiving of God. Somehow, Mary sees beyond all the little rituals, the systems and structures, by which people in every age try to control and manage God, and she sees into the face of “the Mighty One” himself. She catches a glimpse of the brilliant purity and holiness that is God’s very essence, “his name.” She knows that in contrast to a Being like this she is weak and woeful and without a prayer of justifying or saving herself.
But what stuns Mary most is how absolutely good the great God is. It’s one thing to have a great God. Some people say “Allah akbar” – “God is great!” But to have a God whose greatness shows itself in his goodness – in his charity, in his generosity, in his forgiveness – this is a glorious thing. God’s might and holiness are so great that he could obliterate Mary, like an NFL linebacker at full tilt could explode through an errant toddler who’s strayed onto the field. But instead he comes, and slows down and bends down and extends his hand to Mary, and lifts her up. And God’s sphere of influence is so vast, the numbers of people who look to him so huge, the number of people he could choose to use, that there is infinitely less likelihood that he should ever notice her, a peasant female teenager from Palestine, than that the quarterback of a Superbowl team should suddenly spot a scrawny kid in the back row of the bleachers, leave the field, come up to that child and say: “Hey kid, I’ve been watching you. I like your stuff. C’mon on out onto the field with me. I’m going to use your life to change this game.”
This is the miracle that gets magnified for Mary and by Mary. It is the truth that at the heart of this universe is a God whose greatness is only exceeded by his goodness. He is holy but nonetheless helpful to those who are not holy and comes to be their Savior. He is mighty but nonetheless mindful and merciful toward humble people, those who “fear him,” who reverence him. From generation to generation God is worthy of our soul’s surrender and our life’s service. And now and then a song of Christmas comes to us in the midst of this mad barroom we call life and stops us amidst the tumult and reminds us of the truth.. It stops and silences us before the staggering splendor of the God who says “My will is to bring forth My life through you.”
Magnifying the GAME of Christmas
But don’t forget the clash and conflict that is part of this life. If you look through the binoculars that Mary’s Song gives us, you don’t only see the God of Christmas magnified, you see the Game of Christmas much more clearly too. Sometimes we think of Christmas as mainly about peace, reconciliation, and harmony. In a sense, it is. Those are indeed the final outcomes, the ultimate rewards of Christ’s victory. But the game that must be played to get to that victory – the game that Jesus himself played and which he calls his disciples to play until the final peace comes -- involves a struggle.
Listen to the notes of strife and tension in the latter part of Mary’s Song, verses 51-55:
“[God] has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our fathers."
In the words of Edward F. Markquart: “E. Stanley Jones, a famous preacher of two generations ago, said that the Magnificat is ‘the most revolutionary document in the world.’”
Wow. Really? I thought. And then I read on and saw how “Geldenhese, a Dutch theologian, said that the Magnificat ‘announces powerful revolutionary principles.’” And then, further along, “Murrow, another theologian, talks about the ‘revolutionary germ’ found in the Magnificat.”(4) And then I read how William Barclay, the famous English theologian, says in effect that just because the song is sung by a gentle, humble woman, we dare not miss the fact that she is carrying “a bombshell.” Only this kind creates; it doesn’t just take. The child that Mary will bear into this world, as her song suggests, is going to challenge us to participate in three revolutions, Barclay says: a moral revolution, a social revolution, and an economic revolution.(5) Think about that.
As Mary sings, God “scatter[s] those who are proud” she is announcing that the birth of the Christ Child will be the start of a moral revolution. Why is that? Barclay puts it this way: It is because the coming of the Christ Child, marks the start of “the death of pride.” Because, those who set their life beside the life of Christ, they discover that “it tears the last vestiges of pride” from them. Barclay says that “sometimes something happens to [people] which with a vivid, blinding, revealing light” exposes them for who they are. He remembers the story told by O. Henry in which “there was a lad who was brought up in a [small] village. In school he used to sit beside a girl and they were fond of each other.” But as time went on, the boy “went to the [big] city and fell [into] evil ways. He became a pickpocket and petty thief.” And on one particular day “he had just snatched an old lady’s wallet,” and was making his way down the street feeling very clever and very pleased with his ingenuity when he suddenly saw coming down the sidewalk toward him the very girl who had been beside him in that class long ago – still exhibiting “the radiance of innocence.” And he remembered what he’d been and what he’d become. And “burning with shame, he leaned his head against the cool iron of a lamp standard. ‘God,’ he said, ‘I wish I could die.’” When we see the figure of Jesus Christ, our response is a little different. We see his blazing purity, his absolute love, the extraordinary fruit of the Spirit so resplendent in his life. And we look at him and we respond, “Oh, God, I wish I could live – as He lives.” And the moral revolution can begin.
The coming of Jesus Christ also means a social revolution. Mary’s voice sings “He has brought down rulers from their thrones but he has lifted up the humble.” What is being communicated here and so often in the teaching and lifestyle of Jesus and the Apostles who followed him is that to live as a Christian is to see, as Barclay says, “an end to the world’s labels and prestige,” at least in one’s own life. “Muretus was a wandering scholar of the middle ages. He was poor [and] in an Italian town took ill,” says Barclay, “and was taken to a hospital for waifs and strays. The doctors were discussing his case in Latin, never dreaming he could understand. They suggested that since he was such a worthless wanderer they might use him for medical experiments. [And Muretus] looked up and answered them in their own learned tongue.” And this is what he said: “Call no man worthless for whom Christ [has come and] died.” We live in a world where we’re told, again and again, that worth is measured by appearance, connections, education, go down the list. But Jesus comes to start a social revolution. He says: “You must never look at human beings the same way again. You must never, ever look at another human being, no matter how marred and disfigured they may be, and call them worthless, for these are the ones for whom I came and died.
And then Mary tells us that “he has filled the hungry with good things but sent the rich away empty.” What is being declared here is, in a sense, also an economic revolution. “A non-Christian society is,” says Barclay, by nature “an acquisitive society.” It’s a society in which the object is for each person to “amass as much” as they can possibly get. But “a Christian society” — a society that is influenced by the Christ Child and his vision of life -- this is “a society where no one dares to have too much where others have too little.” It is a society where everyone “must get” with a mind to how they might also “give away.” “There is loveliness,” writes Barclay, “in the Magnificat, but in that loveliness,” we must not forget, “there is dynamite.”
Do you see the meaning of Christmas? How much do you need to put on those magnifying lenses that the Song of Mary gives us? How easy is it for you to forget the greatness of the God who deigns through his goodness to become flesh and dwell amongst us? How easy is it for you to turn Christianity into just another tame ritual, just another way of getting ahead or getting by, instead of stepping into the game, being part of the revolution, to which this Child calls us? How open are you and I too not only sing the song but hear the song and then become the song of good news that our world is still so longing to hear?
(1) Twang! The Ultimate Book of Country Music Quotations, compiled by Raymond Obstfeld and Sheila Burgener (Henry Holt and Company, 1997), p. 47
(2) Martin Luther; preface to the Hymn Book. Christianity Today, Vol. 30, no. 12. (3) http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/ 09534a.htm
(4) Edward F. Markquart, The Magnificat and God’s Revolution, www.SermonsFromSeattle.com.
(5) William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible: The Gospel of Luke, pp. 9-10. Barclay’s insights inspire much of the material that follows from this point. Direct citations are indicated in quotation marks.
Used with the permission of Senior Pastor Daniel D. Meyer © Christ Church of Oak Brook, Illinois
GUEST WRITER'S SPACE
by Douglas Smith
SALVATION ARMY CROSS CURRENTS
It was Edinburgh Festival time, and scheduled for this bright Saturday afternoon was an open-air band contest at the Ross Outdoor Amphitheatre, nestled snugly in the shadow of the great castle. There were several empty seats, but the location that seemed most fetching was the one beside a friendly lady who looked to be in her mid-60's.
"Do you know the order that the bands will play?" "Are you on holiday?" "In fact I am."
"You must be from America! Do you have brass bands in America?" "Uh...yes, but not really; at least not the kind you have here." "For nearly 50 years I have played organ in the Church of Scotland. I've led the choir there and taught choral music in school for nearly 40 years, but when I want to enjoy music I listen to the brass bands. I would never miss this contest."
A few minutes later, during the performance of "Sun of My Soul" by one of the bands, the lady, Mrs. Lamb by name, leaned over and whispered from under the brim of her sunshade, "I used to sing that hymn when I was a wee lassie."
Minutes later, during a moment of musical repose, Mrs. Lamb said, "I love to hear a brass band play a hymn, but these contesting bands can never play a hymn like the Salvation Army bands do. In fact, there is a Salvation Army band in Edinburgh at least as good as the ones here."
"Which one?" "The one from the Gorgie Corps." (Pronounced with both hard Gs.)
Small world! The previous day one of the Gorgie players on Princes Street had invited several guests to visit their Saturday night "Praise Festival." Now, Mrs. Lamb had made attendance a virtual necessity.
The Gorgie Corps
The festivities started with the band accompanying the congregation. Then there were special singing numbers, scripture readings, admonitions from the clergy, more singing and more playing. After having heard a few contesting bands earlier in the day, Mrs, Lamb's words were indeed verified. This band was truly excellent!
Information about the Salvation Army had indicated that all the music their bands played had to be based on hymn tunes. One item that evening, a trombone solo, seemed to contradict that policy. There was no printed program, but the soloist performed the Guilmant "Morceau Symphonique," so often played in college and university recitals. No indication of a hymn tune here! The performance literally sparkled, and the accompaniment, played by the entire band, was masterfully written. When the conductor was asked where he got it, he pulled out the score from his folder and said, "This conies to us straight from the SP & S office in London." "The WHAT office?"
The SP & S Office
"The SP & S," he said. "Salvationist Publishing and Supplies. They have provided us with more music than we could ever play, and it is all very high quality."
"But Salvation Army music has to be based on a hymn tune. The trombone solo by Guilmant is from the standard repertoire. How can that be Salvation Army!"
"That is what we call the "Festival Series,' and we play those pieces only in these special musical programs. We would never use something like that on Sunday. Since we never play music from the outside, the Festival Series gives our good bands a chance to be challenged like the competing bands."
A few weeks later Colonel Ray Bowes, Conductor of the International Staff Band and Chief Editor for the SP & S, estimated that there were some 400 bands of the quality of Gorgie, and that the most recent printing of the Festival Series totaled 800 sets, all bought by, and supposedly played by Salvation Army groups.
A few days later the International Staff Band played a performance at the SP & S Music Centre in London. There they demonstrated the best of the Festival Series and smatterings of the other publications available only to Salvationist groups.
"ONLY to Salvationist groups?" the skeptics would say. "Very unlikely! You can't tell me they would refuse a sale if an outsider were to offer cold cash."
Impossible as it seems, it is absolutely true. In fact, there was one impassioned customer, equipped with his Barclay's cheque book, poised to buy some samples.
"Sorry," said the clerk. "We will sell you solos, training materials, records, books, tapes, instruments, manuscript paper, and even valve oil, but not our band music. That is published only for our bands. Our bands play ONLY our music and they are the ONLY ones who do."
"It all started in the early days of our music department," said Colonel Bowes. "We wanted to provide our bands with suitable music, but we didn't have the printing equipment, so we asked a secular band publisher if we could borrow his printing press. Soon our pieces were being bought by some of the 'outside' bands, and the publisher came back, good-naturedly, of course, and complained mildly, 'I set you up in the printing business, and now my customers are buying more music from you than they are from me.' From that moment onward we have never sold music to an outside band."
And so, this chain of thought has ground to an abrupt, irreverent halt. With no sharing of music—in either direction—the story is over; the marriage is annulled; the common market is dissolved.
Not so fast! Even with seemingly mutual isolation, there are other ways in which the two have co-existed and have grown mature and healthy in the continuing presence of each other. Take for instance the instrumentation of the bands. By 1878 when General Booth's forces began to grow, the brass bands already had their instrumentation set and the presses rolling.
By the time bands came into the Salvation Army they were already looking suspiciously like their secular counterparts. In the Salvation Army scores there was no "Repiano Comet," and the "2nd and 3rd Cornets" of the competing bands were listed on the Salvation Army scores as "1st and 2nd Comets," but the ranges were practically identical.
Let's consider another similarity of the bands: the players: People who become brass bandsmen tend to come from the working class; people found in Salvation Army churches tend to come from the working class. Players in the brass bands tend to support their bands with money as well as time and talent; players in the Salvation Army tend to support their bands [churches] with money as well as time and talent. In fact, not only do they buy their instruments, but also their uniforms, their music and the cost of travel to performances. No musicians union with this crowd.
There has always been one big philosophic dividing point: The Salvationists feel that their music is not an end in itself, but a means to a higher goal. In the words of founder General William Booth, "We want to use our instruments to blow salvation into the sinner." With that thought in mind, the Salvation Army bands never compete, either with the contesting bands or with each other.
In a system where lines are sometimes very hard to define, one might expect certain individuals to cross from one camp to another, and indeed they do. The Brass Bands benefit greatly from their co-existence with the Salvation Army. Consider the following individuals who admit freely to their Salvationist heritage: (1) Morley Calvert, Canadian whose "Suite from the Monteregian Hills" has been a big favorite of American brass quintets.
(2) Peter Wilson, who for many years served as editor of the BRITISH BANDSMAN
(3) Ray Fair, who in his early 30's succeeded in winning three championships in a row at the prestigious Rothmans Entertainment Contest with his Grimethorpe Colliery (coal mine) Band.
(4) The late Erik Leidzen, who came to America and distinguished himself as a prolific composer for concert band
(5) Carol Dawn Reinhart, who began her musical experience playing cornet in, and later conducting, a Salvation Army band.
(6) Stephen Bulla, who for many years arranged music for performances by the US Marine Band
(7) Philip Smith, who for several decades has served as principal trumpeter in the New York Philharmonic Orchestra Contest Attendance
"Were you at the European Championships this year at Royal Albert Hall?" asked Colonel Ray Bowes of the SP & S.
"Yes, in fact I was."
"Did you wonder why the crowd was so much smaller on Sunday than it was the day before?"
"I just assumed that more English people would want to hear British bands (Saturday) than to those from the continent (Sunday)."
"That may be, but I know for sure there are literally thousands of Salvation Army players absent on Sunday who had been there on Saturday. On Sunday they have responsibilities in their churches. Any other day they would find a way to be there, but not on Sunday.
The cross currents of Salvation Army and secular bands would appear to be very strong, and the contesting groups would seem to be the prime beneficiary. Even though brass band players have been known to train youngsters, the Salvationists seem to have done more. Chances are that a large number of secular band members learned to play in church. Not only that, but their constant interest in quality performance has given a mindset that transcends the world of competition, and both classes are the richer for it.
So, if we Americans are to be successful with our adult amateur groups in a way General Booth was with his, we must provide for them no less than two basic ingredients:
(1) Plenty of good quality music to play, and
(2) A noble purpose that goes beyond the mere making of music.
October 22, 2006 Louisville, Kentucky
Douglas Smith is a Professor of Church Music at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville KY, where he has taught since 1975. His arrangements for various instrumental combinations have been published by DESPUB, Broadman Press, Theodore Presser, Lorenz, Hope Publishing Co., and several others. He holds the B.S. degree from Carson-Newman College, the M.M.E. from the University of North Texas and the D.M.A. from the University of Michigan.