Friday, June 24, 2016

Harmonious WInds

No. 224 of the ongoing ITYWLTMT series series series of audio montages can be found in our archives at

Our two next Blogs and Podcasts will feature ensemble music – that is to say, music intended for a group of musicians that don’t quite form an orchestra. The two montages address the case of string ensembles (or string orchestras, if you will) and the case of the wind band (as we say in French, orchestre d’harmonie or simply harmonie).

Without getting too technical (or without scooping my Project 366 post for August) an orchestra is made up of strings, wind instruments and percussions. A wind band is made up exclusively of wind (that is, woodwind and brass) instruments, and is often augmented with some percussion – especially in the case of the military band.

As we pointed out in our last post on nonets, some instruments come in different “voice tones” – a lot like the 4-stringed bowed instrument family of violin, viola, cello and double bass. The clarinet, the oboe (with the English horn) flute (with the piccolo) , the bassoon (with the counter-bassoon) and saxophone are examples of instruments that have different versions tuned to different registers. Those aren’t necessarily  part of the “standard” orchestra make-up, as they often are only called upon iof a specific work requires it. However, in a wind band we expect to see most instruments represented in all tgheir registers, if only to provide more colours for the composer to express him or herself.

Works I selected for today’s montage come from the classical (Mozart’s Divertimento for Winds) all the way to the 20th century. For a second montage in a row, Felix Mendelssohn makes the cut (and, be advised, he returns next time, too!) with his delightful overture for wind instruments, and a seldom heard sinfonia for winds by opera’s Donizetti I thought was an interesting addition. The remainder of the montage focuses on military band – a set of variations by Ralph Vaughan-Williams, a less-heard orchestral suite from the March King John Phillip Sousa, and a collection of military marches (sometimes referred to as allemandes) by Ludwig Van Beethoven.

I think you will love this music too!

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