SILVER EDITION PARTS
On this page, we describe WHAT Silver Edition Parts are, and explain the rationale behind why we create them.
A CENTURY AGO …
A hundred years ago, right around the turn of the 20th century, some of the best entertainment to be found were the professional bands of John Philip Sousa, Edwin Franko Goldman, Harold B. Bachman, and many others.
Because there were no movie theaters, no television, no internet, and even no radio, whenever a band came to town to play a concert, people couldn’t wait to go see that performance. They gladly paid money to attend these concerts.
The very best bands, such as those mentioned above, were comprised entirely of professional musicians, including virtuoso artists such as Herbert L. Clarke and Arthur Pryor. Even the last-chair players in these bands were phenomenal musicians.
When composer-directors such as Sousa and Goldman and Fillmore wrote their music, they wrote it for their own bands. They wrote it for a band comprised entirely of professional musicians.
THE BAND SITUATION TODAY
Now, in the second decade of the 21st century as this is written, there are with very few exceptions, three kinds of bands: (1) school bands, ranging from young beginners (usually junior high schools) up through university bands; (2) Military Service Bands, which even though being slashed by political budget cutting, nevertheless are comprised completely of professional-caliber musicians; and (3) Community Bands, which is where school musicians go to continue playing as adults, when they are no longer in school.
Community Bands are usually comprised of musicians of wide variations in ability, from those just picking up their instruments after decades, to local professional-caliber players. It is rare to find a community band that does not have 50% or more intermediate-level players. Junior and Senior High School bands are the same. Some of them are nearly professional-caliber, but the vast majority of bands have a full complement of intermediate-level (and lower) ability players.
When with a Community or School band you attempt to play a Sousa or Goldman march, or any other work written primarily for an all-professional band, you are giving professional-caliber musician challenges to intermediate-level players. The result is they will either try to play it and it will be a mess, or they’ll be totally intimidated and simply lay out. In the worst cases, they might even quit the band. And we certainly don’t want that.
Silver Edition parts are designed to be played with the original arrangement. They are optional, depending on player preference. For the upper woodwinds, specifically flutes, oboes, 2nd and 3rd clarinets, and alto saxes, we have rewritten the fast (intimidating) passages so they are accessible by intermediate-level musicians.
As an example, compare this original part for 2nd clarinet from the trio of Sousa’s Pathfinder of Panama:
…with this Silver Edition part of the same passage.
Envision them being played at a brisk march tempo, and you’ll see how the first example could easily intimidate an intermediate-level clarinet player, while the second example is something they can play comfortably.
WE DIDN’T FORGET THE HORNS!
In most old, public domain marches, horns were relegated to afterbeats. Nothing but afterbeats. If a band plays a lot of these marches, they’ll probably have a difficult time finding horn players willing to endure that purgatory.
When we issue Silver Edition parts for a tune, if in the original work the horns had little more than afterbeats, we rewrite those parts to make them more interesting.
Horn players, you may now celebrate. You may now actually have FUN playing these marches.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The bottom line on Silver Edition parts is that works with these parts are now accessible to bands with all levels of players, and the horn players can actually have fun playing them as well.