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1st,2nd,3rd saxophone in band?

BUMNOTE

Senior Member
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572
Can someone please explain,what is meant when someone says they want you to play,1st.2nd or third part in a band please,thanks Dave:confused:
 

Young Col

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,419
It's to do with orchestration. In a larger band you may have more than one of the same instrument. If there are, say, three altos, they may not always be playing the same thing. The first part may lead with the melody line (in conjunction with or possibly alternating with other instruments); the second part may shadow the lead an octave or some other interval below, or it may fill in the harmonies and/or use counter rhythms; a third part - a bit unlikely but I have one or two - may be different again. There are many variations. Second and third parts may play similar parts in harmony/rhythm with other instruments to support a lead for example. The 2nd parts can be more challenging than the lead (as I am finding having moved to a higher level sax ensemble). We have some music that is scored for 8 parts - two times each of sop, alto, tenor, bari - and we often use one sop, two of alto and tenor and one bari and with several players on some instruments.
YC
 

MandyH

Sax-Mad fiend!
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3,551
well, I'm no expert, but .... a piece may be written with a number of parts all played by the same instruments - eg alto saxes. Each part is then given a number 1, 2, 3 etc. to identify it so they become alto 1, alto 2, alto 3.
Now as I understand it, in an orchestra, this could be a sort of pecking order.
I believe the violin 1 is the leader of the orchestra. I guess violinists aspire to be violin 1??
In my experience, those with the "1" parts possibly have something a little more fiddly / significant in the piece to play and the other numbers form more of "the backing group" but often the melody can be passed around the whole band, so you all get a chance to shine.
Ultimately, for the piece to sound whole, all parts are equally important, so I tend not to fuss about which part I get, just that I get something to play.
Having just started playing Bari, "they" assure me that 22 bars of repeated minims are important, me...I just tend to forget which bar I'm in :shocked: :)))
 

zebrafoot

Member
Messages
63
Second parts often tend to be given to less proficient players (normally they are lower in pitch, but this is not always true), with the "stars" playing the first part. The 1st instruments tend to have a higher status within the band and will probably play the tune if that instrument is required to play one. However, the second parts can as the others have said, provide essential counter melodies or harmonies so that if the second players are not very confident the whole sound suffers somewhat. When I played with a brass band, the second cornets were generally weaker players; I was a more experienced cornetist and I once filled a seat in the second cornet section when I came back from University for the weekend. The other cornetists were surprised to hear some counterpoints that they had never heard before (the normal second cornets were too shy to play in the "gaps").

At least that's how I interpreted their puzzled looks.........;}
 

jazzdoh

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,281
Having just started playing Bari, "they" assure me that 22 bars of repeated minims are important, me...I just tend to forget which bar I'm in :shocked: :)))
All part of the fun in big band.

Brian
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
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21,947
Good stuff above. Just to pick up on MandyH's comments, she's correct. Boss of the First violins is the orchestra leader/concert master and in the days before conductors he'd conduct as well as play. Still happens sometimes today, especially with smaller ensembles.

Some composers, writing for a particular orchestra, who's players they knew, would write the score to give the trickier bits to the seconds if the firsts were weak. Or if one of their mates wanted to show off from the second seat. But in general the firsts would be expected to play to a higher standard. And in general the first would take the solos, not the second or third seat.

But beware, often the higher numbered voices carry the rhythm/foundations of teh arrangement, and if weaker players are hidden there, the piece won't work. My wife finds this in her guitar ensemble and the guitar orchestra she's playing in. And in pieces which require (say) a strong third voice, she often needs to step down and play there to keep the piece together. so it's not unusual in a smaller group to find people playing different voices, depending on the group and needs of the piece.
 

Gandalfe

Member
Messages
107
Some would say that the 2nd and 3rd part players have to play out more to make a piece work. I know when I play second alto, I luv coming up under a good lead player, sometimes louder than them when the part is significantly lower than the lead's part. I have gotten many a compliment from a lead and they are usually school trained pros.

I also want to note, for those who made it past my first paragraph, that reading Kev's post is much easier than many because he is a courtious writer who uses white space (paragraph breaks) in his prose. I don't understand people who write a very dense, block of writing without using paragraph breaks. That style of writing can mean many people won't get past the first few sentences, especially if they have old eyes like I do.
 

Young Col

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,419
Gandalfe
Point well made and taken. I usually try to break things up with proper paras but I just got carried away this time. My eyes are getting old too!

At least I use proper punctuation and capitals, as have others in this thread, but lack of them irritates me.
YC
 

Tenor Viol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
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5,943
well, I'm no expert, but .... a piece may be written with a number of parts all played by the same instruments - eg alto saxes. Each part is then given a number 1, 2, 3 etc. to identify it so they become alto 1, alto 2, alto 3.
Now as I understand it, in an orchestra, this could be a sort of pecking order.
I believe the violin 1 is the leader of the orchestra. I guess violinists aspire to be violin 1??
In my experience, those with the "1" parts possibly have something a little more fiddly / significant in the piece to play and the other numbers form more of "the backing group" but often the melody can be passed around the whole band, so you all get a chance to shine.
Ultimately, for the piece to sound whole, all parts are equally important, so I tend not to fuss about which part I get, just that I get something to play.
Having just started playing Bari, "they" assure me that 22 bars of repeated minims are important, me...I just tend to forget which bar I'm in :shocked: :)))
As an experienced baritone singer :rolleyes: I can assure you that bass parts only come in two flavours:

  • either tedious tonic/dominant/tonic/sub-dominant 'pom-pomming', or
  • excruciatingly difficult note fests (e.g. anything by a certain JS Bach, or choral arrangements of Gershwin/Cole Porter :w00t:).
The challenge holding pedal notes like that is keeping them in tune....:shocked:

Have fun ;}
 

Tenor Viol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
Subscriber
Messages
5,943
Good stuff above. Just to pick up on MandyH's comments, she's correct. Boss of the First violins is the orchestra leader/concert master and in the days before conductors he'd conduct as well as play. Still happens sometimes today, especially with smaller ensembles. ---polite snip----
Agreed.

I saw the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields last Saturday in Shrewsbury (5 1st Violins, 4 2nd violins, 3 violas, 2 cellos, 1 doublebass, 2 horns, 2 oboes) and the leader conducted, generally just indicating the beat at the start of a piece.
 

Moz

Senior Member
Messages
855
One should not be fooled, however, into thinking that if one plays second or third parts that life will be easier. The first part will often get the fiddlier bits but they most often get the tune too whereas the further down the parts one goes the more harmonies one has to play. This means that one has to concentrate hard on the notes as on their own they will mean almost nothing. When 'lower' part gets the tune it sometimes comes as a blessed relief!

Martin

PS Sorry about the 'one' and ones' they seemed a good idea at first but got rather monotonous in the end. I should try not to be so pretentious -- shouldn't one? :)))
 

old git

Tremendous Bore
Messages
5,545
Agreed.

I saw the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields last Saturday in Shrewsbury (5 1st Violins, 4 2nd violins, 3 violas, 2 cellos, 1 doublebass, 2 horns, 2 oboes) and the leader conducted, generally just indicating the beat at the start of a piece.
And there was me thinking that the Academy of St. Martins in the Fields was the "down and outs" centre in the basement. Mind you, do remember attending their excellent Folk Club.
 

jthole

Member
Messages
226
In bigband, it works like this:

1: lead alto
2: lead tenor
3: 2nd alto
4: 2nd tenor
5: baritone

Despite the lowest number, I think baritone is one of the most interesting positions.
 

old git

Tremendous Bore
Messages
5,545
In bigband, it works like this:

1: lead alto
2: lead tenor
3: 2nd alto
4: 2nd tenor
5: baritone

Despite the lowest number, I think baritone is one of the most interesting positions.
Is that how the Herd's Four Brothers were ranked and voiced?
 

O.C.V.

Member
Messages
113
Is that how the Herd's Four Brothers were ranked and voiced?
Couldn't have been like that as there were three tenors, alto and baritone in that band. Don't know how they were voiced though. Ellington used similar voicing but with the baritone often doubling the lead alto. That helped to give the band its unique sound; well that and the individual sounds of the musicians.
 

Young Col

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,419
The Four Brothers band had great flexibility in its reed section. As well as the three tenors, (initially) Zoot Sims, Stan Getz and Herbie Steward plus the bari of Serge Chaloff, there was alto player Sam Marowitz. Woody Herman himself also played alto as well as clarinet and Herbie Steward could also play alto.

On the Four Brothers track itself the opening melody is played by Stan Getz and Serge Chaloff an octave lower. Sims and Steward are in between them, playing in unison I think but someone with better ears may be able to detect more harmony.

BTW St Martins in the Fields crypt now hosts regular jazz nights. I am going later this month and will report back. Just hope the soup and rolls are good.
YC
 

Young Col

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,419
Thanks Kev.
We are meeting friends to see the Red Stripe band on 16th. Trying to book tickets for the new da Vinci exhibition at the National Gallery for the afternoon and might be bold enough to do the Degas at the Royal Academy in the morning as well. Danger of cultural overload but at least with our oldies Freedom Passes it won't cost us anything on transport!
YC
 
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