Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Book Review: "The Wind Band" by Richard Franko Goldman

"The Wind Band: It's Literature and Technique" by Richard Franko Goldman. Published by Allyn an Bacon, INC. Boston, 1961

The front page
In my study for the literature of my medium, "The Wind Band" was a text I was instructed to pick up from the library. I'll be honest it took me far too long to complete the 270 pages of this volume by R Goldman (who is the son of bandmaster Edwin Franko Goldman). I enjoyed it more as I read, but it's not something that gripped me from page one.
The book is divided into four parts; "The band as a Musical Insitution", "Technical Problems of the Band", "The Repertoire of the Band", and "Improving the Band". This includes a few chapter under each part, totalling ten in all.

The first 100 pages or so focus on the military band movement and such leader/composers as John Philip Sousa, Edwin Franko Goldman, and Patrick Gilmore. While this is certainly of interest, it was not something that was really touched on by my teacher this past term. This is alarming because we were covering the 1500's through 1909 in Wind Band History and Literature. The "heyday" of the march was 1829-early 1900's. A curious point I will be sure to bring up as classes resume.

Of course the book is outdated in some areas. Chapter 4 talks of "contemporary bands" but this was as of 1961 so there have been some changes. Fennell and the Symphonic Wind Ensemble is discussed by page 140, but this is where the trail ends for modern band.

One of the most interesting aspects of the book were the many lists of programs and instrumentations of various groups. As I program works that were written from earlier periods in our history, the size of ensembles that were playing at the time of composition is useful knowledge.

Part 3, which focuses on the repertoire of the band was the most helpful in terms of my study. I wish I would've skipped ahead and read chapter 8 first. This section has information that is relevant today and valuable in the study of transcriptions vs. original works for the wind band. It seems that an explosion of our "core rep" happened during this time. I am finding Edwin Franko Goldman and Frank Battisti are largely responsible for this fact.

The last part, reads kind of as an after-thought on practical problems of the band. I wish more of the book would've been written on the history of wind works before 1760(especially since I was trying to find info on that anyway) instead of tacking on this small section on teaching and conducting. There are many fine texts written on those subjects.

As someone who is so driven by technology this statement in chapter nine amused me. "The band has tuning devices, tape-recorders, and all manner of equipment that would've been unbelieveable only a short time ago. All this is well and good, provided that it does not become an end in itself, and that all of the equipment is put to some profitable use. It might, on occasion, simply be recalled that band and other musical organizatios did manage to exist, and fairly well, before all of these things appeared on the scene." I wonder what Goldman would have to say to us today(he passed in 1980).

The text does include a nice index, which I'm sure will come in handy when I go to check it out from library again to take a more in depth look at it. For now a once over must be enough as I try to get through at least one more book before break is over. It's an important read, but I don't think it had any information that can't be found in another text. I found the language to be a little stodgy(which accounts for my struggles diving in to the book).

It'll probably sit on my IKEA bookshelves someday, but on the "Grad Assistant getting Married" budget, it's not something I'll run out an buy, especially since it's out of print. I imagine the Dunbar Library will check it out to me a couple of times before I'm done here.

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