Brass Quintet Direction

  • In a brass quintet, is music interpretation a consensus of the players or is there a tradition or protocol for one member or another having artistic direction?

  • From my limited experience, I'd say it depends upon the assertiveness of the players. Ideally it's a collectively cooperative endeavor where the music is the priority and presenting it in the best possible way is the goal, but personalities being what they are, egos can get in the way. As a result, the music suffers.

  • Global Moderator

    It's supposed to be synergistic. This is what American Brass Quintet taught me when they came to my school. That was back in the Ray Mase days. Nobody is the "leader," that is why the two trumpeters switch parts.

  • In my experience it's usually collective but lot of interpretation is acquested to.

  • First trumpet for style, the others tune to and follow the first trumpet.


  • Global Moderator

    @Vulgano-Brother When I was still playing in a brass quintet - can't seem to get one together these days - we had an external musical director who not only supervised our rehearsing, but wrote original music for us as well. Worked perfectly and brought a bunch of rank amateurs (as we then were) into all the big local concert halls... even though some of the original music was distinctly weird: "Variations on Greensleeves", with every variation representing a different period of music history: va. 1 a Bach fugue, var. 2 a Mozart minuet, var. 3 Beethovenesque, var. 4 Bruckner, var. 5 a military march, var. 6 Wagnerian, var. 7 being dodecaphonic...

  • I have asked a friend who is attending the Mendez Institute this week to ask this question during the week. I will report back when he tells me what he heard there.

    Thanks for the responses to date.

  • In a friendly quintet with all members being of roughly equal skill, the interpretation should be a consensus of the group. If there is a "leader", he or she may believe they have the final say, though.

  • Having had a quintet in the past with varying members, I largely picked the songs and did the arrangements. I had to work with varying degrees of expertise with regards to the different players. Some were meek and others a bit pushy. Personalities aside, usually I made the final decisions. I continually asked for comments and contributions, but many players just want to show up and play.

  • In my case, it depended on the respective talents of each player. And it wasn't always the 1st Trumpeter who had the final say-so. Sometimes it was other, stronger musicians. It all depended. Situational with no immutable rule or pecking order.

  • In all the professional quintets I have played with, they all had a director that was a separate person from the quintet performers. As in any formal classical ensemble, the quintet followed the recommendations of the director of the sessions.

  • That's interesting, because I never played in, or supervised, a quintet that had external musical directors. That's both academic and professional.

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