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Humanities LibreTexts

7.4: Bands

  • Page ID
    72396
  • Concert Band

    A concert band, also called wind ensemble, symphonic band, wind symphony, wind orchestra, wind band, symphonic winds, symphony band, or symphonic wind ensemble, is a performing ensemble consisting of members of the woodwind, brass, and percussion families of instruments, along with the double bass.

    A concert band’s repertoire includes original wind compositions, transcriptions/arrangements of orchestral compositions, light music, and popular tunes. Though the instrumentation is similar, a concert band is distinguished from the marching band in that its primary function is as a concert ensemble. The standard repertoire for the concert band does, however, contain concert marches.

    Listen: Concert Band

    Listen to the University of Michigan concert band perform “Aurora Awakes” by John Mackey.

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    Marching Band

    Texas A & M University's marching band in their trademark aTm formation

    Marching band is a sport in which instrumental musicians perform outdoors for the purpose of entertainment, exercise, and sometimes for competition. Instrumentation typically includes brass, woodwinds, and percussion instruments. Most marching bands use some kind of uniform (often of a military style) that include the school or organization’s name or symbol,shakos, pith helmets, feather plumes, gloves, and sometimes gauntlets, sashes, and/or capes.

    Marching bands are generally categorized by function, size, age, gender, instruments and by the style of show they perform. In addition to traditional parade performances, many marching bands also perform field shows at special events like competitions. Increasingly, marching bands are performing indoor concerts that implement many of the songs, traditions, and flair from outside performances.

    Jazz Bands

    A jazz band (jazz ensemble or jazz combo) is a musical ensemble that plays jazz music. Jazz bands vary in the quantity of its members and the style of jazz that they play but it is common to find a jazz band made up of a rhythm section and a horn section.

    The size of a jazz band is closely related to the style of jazz they play as well as the type of venues in which they play. Smaller jazz bands, also known as combos, are common in night clubs and other small venues and will be made up of three to seven musicians; whereas big bands are found in dance halls and other larger venues.

    Jazz bands can vary in size from a big band, to a smaller trio or quartet. The term jazz trio can refer to a three piece band with a pianist, double bass player and a drummer. Some bands use vocalists, while others are purely instrumental groups. Jazz bands usually have a bandleader. In a big band setting, there is usually more than one player for a type of instrument.

    Jazz bands and their composition have changed many times throughout the years just as the music itself changes with each performers personal interpretation and improvisation which is one of the greatest appeals of going to see a jazz band.

    Listen: Jazz Band

    The following clip is a segment from the film Reveille with Beverly from 1943 showcasing the Duke Ellington Jazz Band; the song was composed in 1939.

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    Jazz Ensemble Types

    Combos

    Small jazz bands of three to four musicians are often referred to as combos and can be found in small night club venues. In modern jazz, an acoustic bass player is almost always present in a small band, complemented by any other combination of instruments.

    It’s common for musicians in a combo to perform their music from memory. The improvisational nature of these performances make every show unique.

    Three Parts (Trios)

    In jazz, there are several types of trios. One type of jazz trio is formed with a piano player, a bass player and a drummer. Another type of jazz trio that became popular in the 1950s and 1960s is the organ trio, which is composed of a Hammond organ player, a drummer, and a third instrumentalist (either a saxophone player or an electric jazz guitarist).

    Four or More Parts

    Jazz quartets typically add a horn (the generic jazz name for saxophones, trombones, trumpets, or any other wind or brass instrument commonly associated with jazz) to one of the jazz trios described above. Slightly larger jazz ensembles, such as quintets (five instruments) or sextets (six instruments) typically add other soloing instruments to the basic quartet formation, such as different types of saxophones (e.g., alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, etc.) or an additional chordal instrument.

    Listen: Jazz Quintet

    The following video showcases Dizzy Gillespie and his quintet recorded in 1965, coinciding with the release of the album Dizzy on The French Riviera, with Kenny Barron replacing Lalo Schifrin on piano.

    https://youtu.be/ZjZa7lyyGlw

    Ro ck and Pop Bands

    Rock music is a genre of popular music that originated as “rock and roll” in the United States in the 1950s, and developed into a range of different styles in the 1960s and later, particularly in the United Kingdom and the United States. It has its roots in 1940s and 1950s rock and roll, itself heavily influenced by blues, rhythm and blues and country music. Rock music also drew strongly on a number of other genres such as electric blues and folk, and incorporated influences from jazz, classical and other musical sources.

    The sound of rock is traditionally centered on the electric guitar, which emerged in its modern form in the 1950s with the popularization of rock and roll,and was influenced by the sounds of electric blues guitarists. The sound of an electric guitar in rock music is typically supported by an electric bass guitar pioneered in jazz music in the same era, and percussion produced from a drum kit that combines drums and cymbals. This trio of instruments has often been complemented by the inclusion of others, particularly keyboards such as the piano, Hammond organ and synthesizers. The basic rock instrumentation was adapted from the basic blues band instrumentation (prominent lead guitar, second chord instrument, bass, and drums). A group of musicians performing rock music is termed a rock band or rock group and typically consists of between two and five members. Classically, a rock band takes the form of a quartet whose members cover one or more roles, including vocalist, lead guitarist, rhythm guitarist, bass guitarist, drummer, and often that of keyboard player or other instrumentalist.

    Rock music is traditionally built on a foundation of simple unsyncopated rhythms in a 4/4 meter, with a repetitive snare drum back beat on beats two and four. Melodies are often derived from older musical modes, including the Dorian and Mixolydian, as well as major and minor modes. Harmonies range from the common triad to parallel fourths and fifths and dissonant harmonic progressions. Rock songs, since the late 1950s and particularly from the mid-1960s onwards, often used the verse-chorus structure derived from blues and folk music, but there has been considerable variation from this model. Critics have stressed the eclecticism and stylistic diversity of rock. Because of its complex history and tendency to borrow from other musical and cultural forms, it has been argued that “it is impossible to bind rock music to a rigidly delineated musical definition.”

    By the late 1960s, referred to as the “golden age” or “classic rock”period, a number of distinct rock music subgenres had emerged, including hybrids like blues rock, folk rock, country rock, raga rock, and jazz-rock fusion, many of which contributed to the development of psychedelic rock, which was influenced by the countercultural psychedelic scene. New genres that emerged from this scene included progressive rock, which extended the artistic elements; glam rock, which highlighted showmanship and visual style; and the diverse and enduring subgenre of heavy metal, which emphasized volume, power, and speed. In the second half of the 1970s, punk rock reacted against the perceived overblown, inauthentic and overly mainstream aspects of these genres to produce a stripped-down, energetic form of music valuing raw expression and often lyrically characterised by social and political critiques. Punk was an influence into the 1980s on the subsequent development of other subgenres, including new wave, post-punk and eventually the alternative rock movement. From the 1990s alternative rock began to dominate rock music and break through into the mainstream in the form of grunge, Britpop, and indie rock. Further fusion subgenres have since emerged, including pop punk, rap rock, and rap metal, as well as conscious attempts to revisit rock’s history, including the garage rock/post-punk and synthpop revivals at the beginning of the new millennium.

    Rock music has also embodied and served as the vehicle for cultural and social movements, leading to major sub-cultures including mods and rockers in the UK and the hippie counterculture that spread out from San Francisco in the U.S. in the 1960s. Similarly, 1970s punk culture spawned the visually distinctive goth and emo subcultures. Inheriting the folk tradition of the protest song, rock music has been associated with political activism as well as changes in social attitudes toward race, sex and drug use, and is often seen as an expression of youth revolt against adult consumerism and conformity.

    Listen: Rock Band

    The following clip is a music video by David Bowie, glam rock artist from the early 1970s, performing “Ziggy Stardust.”

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    The genre of rock music is vast and varies greatly.  It has evolved over several decades by evoking ideas from many styles of music.  For more information on how rock has evolved and it’s many subgenres, please read this Wikipedia page.
    CC licensed content, Shared previously
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    • University of Michigan: Aurora Awakes -John Mackey. Authored by: Josh Zaid. Located at: https://youtu.be/HWejXR78FN8. License: All Rights Reserved. License Terms: Standard YouTube License
    • Duke Ellington, Take the A Train. Authored by: morrisoncoursevids. Located at: https://youtu.be/cb2w2m1JmCY. License: All Rights Reserved. License Terms: Standard YouTube License
    • Dizzy Gillespie - And Then She Stopped. Authored by: Gordon Hudson. Located at: https://youtu.be/ZjZa7lyyGlw. License: All Rights Reserved
    • David Bowie - Ziggy Stardust (From The Motion Picture). Authored by: emimusic. Located at: https://youtu.be/G8sdsW93ThQ. License: All Rights Reserved. License Terms: Standard YouTube License
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