Creating a Dark Band Sound
by Tim Hinton at the MarchingRoundtable.com
A dark sound of the field should almost always be the goal of any band. All of the best bands that we love to listen to have these deep, rich sounds. (Some college bands are exceptions and prefer a bright sound in huge stadiums.) I could like write an entire book on this topic, but here are some basics:
Foremost is the tone quality of the individual players. This is true in concert band, of course, and the best marching bands are also great concert bands also. Every performer should strive, first and foremost, to be a great musician and play with a beautiful sound.
The instruments being played also contribute to the quality of the sound, so try to acquire top of the line instruments which allow for this to happen. Many of the top groups I write for use all Marching Baritones for their Low Brass sections. These instruments have a large bore and a dark rich sound. Having matching horns all throughout this section is probably the single largest contributor to a great dark band sound on the field. (Having all the exact same horn and same brand makes it even better!) I find that trombone players can learn the fingerings pretty easily, and you also lose the problem of writing drill for trombone slides!
As an arranger, I also know that the way that the music is arranged, and the chords are voiced, is critically important to the sound of the band. Careful voicing in the right range for each instrument will allow them to play with a large sound that is also dark. This also means having the music written in the right range for the actual players that the band has! This is the great advantage of having arrangements custom written for your group, as the arranger can take into account the talent level of the actual members and write each instrument’s part to match that. Screeching trumpets or trombones who are struggling to reach super high notes, or even woodwinds in extreme ranges, all can contribute to a bright, shrill band sound. Make sure to invest in quality arrangements and this will really help your sound.
I also encourage you to think about breathing and breath support. Most of the top groups I work with do extensive breathing exercises and work on lung capacity. Also, the physical fitness of the performer can greatly influence the ability to play with good air and a dark sound throughout a demanding eight minute show. Marching Band is not for the weak or timid!! Combine all of these ingredients and you’ll find your band playing with a great dark sound.
10+ Values Marching Band Students Learn
And Why You Should Hire Them
by John Gardner
This is a great link! Looking at this from the view of a Retail Manager I can say ...Band Kids Get It! “10+ Values Marching Band Students Learn And Why You Should Hire Them” for a great read on the values a marching experience brings to an employer.