The twentieth century has witnessed the emergence of the brass chamber ensemble as a colourful mode of expression distinct from the psuedo-string quartet and woodwind quintet textures of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. With this emergence, there has evolved an interest in the brass chamber ensemble as a vehicle for student performers, a vehicle permitting active and meaningful involvement with the materials of music on a personal level.
Locating well-crafted, idiomatic and expressive works suitable for student brass performers is a time-consuming and arduous task, the difficulty of which is further compounded by the demands in recent years for increased Canadian content in music education. The John Adaskin Project (Canadian Music for Schools) has already done much to promote the development of a large and varied repertoire for student bands, orchestras, and choirs. This Guidelist represents a preliminary effort to develop a similar Canadian repertoire for heterogeneous brass trios, quartets, and quintets.
Detailed annotations describing level of difficulty, technical, musical, and ensemble challenges, and potential pedagogical value aim to familiarize music educators with the repertoire currently available, and to ensure that they have adequate information with which to make informed repertoire selections. This information should also prove useful to composers and publishers interested in writing and publishing music for student performers. There is a serious lack of fine Canadian brass chamber music for elementary and junior student ensembles, and it is hoped that composers and publishers will work together to fill this gap.
While every attempt has been made to achieve objectivity and consistency during the preparation of the Guidelist, the choice of repertoire ultimately involves individual taste. Repertoire selection is one of the music educator's most important responsibilities. The teacher owes it to his students to choose the best possible repertoire, weighing all the various musical and educational factors related to the specific situation. A composition should not be selected merely because it is Canadian. If it is worthy of study, it must have a musical integrity that moves beyond all consideration of nationality. The Guidelist reveals that Canadian composers have written musically worthy brass chamber compositions for student performers. Consequently, brass chamber experiences using Canadian music have the potential to enhance students' awareness of their own cultural heritage, and to develop their musical sensitivity. This is an exciting prospect to which it is hoped the Guidelist has made a valuable contribution.
I would like to express my deep appreciation to all the music educators, composers, performers, and students from across Canada who made this endeavour possible. I am especially indebted to those who devoted many hours to the development of Guidelines for the Assessment of Difficulty, and to those who read and graciously criticized draft versions of the Guidelist, specifically Dr. Wayne Bowman, Mr. Alan Ehnes, Dr. Kenneth Nichols, Mr. Ron Parker, Mr. Larry Allen, Mr. John Dowden, Mr. Darryl Eaton, Mr. Scot Irving, and Mr. Peter Stubley.
Heart-felt gratitude is similarly extended to Dr. Patricia Shand, Director of the John Adaskin Project. She has been a continuing source of inspiration and support.
Funding was generously provided by Don Wright and by the Canadian Music Educators' Association. The Canadian Music Centre was generous with its scores and recordings. Gail Richardson's programming expertise facilitated the preparation of the final copy, and Jill Dawson provided welcome assistance.
Lastly, I would like to thank my family, by way of a loving dedication, for their patience, understanding, and support.
Eleanor Victoria Stubley
John Adaskin Project
The Guidelist is limited to original unpublished compositions for heterogeneous brass trio, quartet, and quintet written by Canadian composers before December 1985. Ensemble instrumentations are further limited to include only the following: trumpet, horn, and trombone; two trumpets and trombone; horn, trombone, and tuba; trumpet, horn, trombone, and tuba; two trumpets (two fluegelhorns), horn, and trombone; and two trumpets, horn, trombone, and tuba (bass trombone). Music has been written for other heterogeneous and homogeneous ensembles, but these works were beyond the scope of this study. Compositions requiring an additional percussionist or supplementary percussion instruments to be played by the ensemble are included. Transcriptions and simplified arrangements are not considered.
The adjectives Easy, Medium, and Difficult are used to describe level of difficulty.
Easy compositions are suitable for brass players who have had fewer than two years of instruction.
Medium compositions are suitable for brass players who have had two to three years of instruction.
Difficult compositions are demanding for average high school performers who have had three or more years of instruction.
A line graph indicates relative difficulty within each category, and where there is the possibility of performance at an easier level of difficulty, compositions are cross-referenced.
Difficulty was assessed in terms of each composition's technical, musical, and ensemble challenges, with the global difficulty rating usually reflecting an equal weighting of the three categories. Where the difficulty of such challenges differed substantially, the global rating favours the most difficult of the three categories. But since each composition is an individual creation in which technical, musical, and ensemble challenges (artitifical distinctions even at the best of times) are intricately and uniquely combined, the determination of an overall level of difrlculty ultimately involved a fair degree of subjective judgement. Therefore, the global rating is not a definitive assessment of difficulty and should not be ccnsidered in isolation from the annotations describing the specific challenges, or from the capabilities of the specific ensemble for which music is being selected.
Guidelines for assessing technical challenges were derived from a survey of Canadian university brass instructors. Guidelines for assessing musical challenges were modeled after similar guidelines in use by the John Adaskin Project. Guidelines for assessing ensemble challenges followed from an analysis of previously graded published brass chamber works. Five criteria focusing on quality of craftmanship, expressivity, and suitability for student performers were used to rate potential pedagogical value. The Guidelines for Assessment of Difficulty are available through the John Adaskin Project.
Compositions are arranged alphabetically by composer according to level of difficulty. Easy compositions are described on pp. 1-6, Medium compositions on pp. 7-30, and Difficult compositions on pp. 31-32. Bibliographical information for each entry includes exact instrumentation, availability of scores and parts, approximate duration, and where possible, date of composition. Where a composition is available only through the composer, interested persons should contact the John Adaskin Project.
Where ranges of instruments are specified, the following system is used to identify written pitches:
c' Middle C
c'' octave above Middle C
C octave below Middle C
B semitone below Middle C
b one octave higher
B, one octave lower
and so forth...
Abbreviations used in the Guidelist include:
CMC-T Canadian Music Centre Toronto National Library
CMC-M Canadian Music Centre Montreal Regional Library
CHS Canadian Musical Heritage Society
36 Elgin Road
Btrb Bass Trombone
Ptrp Piccolo Trumpet
SD Snare Drum