A Guide To Types Of Bands

Different kinds of bands, their instrumentation, their sound, and what they do.

There are many different kinds of bands out there, including both the typical ones like marching, concert and jazz and less typical ones.

Marching band: This is a band that performs at football games, parades, and other similar events. Most high schools have one, as do most universities. They are large bands, consisting of anywhere from 50 - 300 members. Marching bands consist of trumpets, trombones, mellophones, sousaphones, percussion, and usually clarinets, flutes, and saxophones. Percussion is typically made up of cymbals, snares, quads, and bass drums. Some marching bands don't include any woodwinds. Bands will march in straight lines when they are performing in parades or moving anywhere. They may also perform shows where they make pictures on the field during half-time or pre-game shows. They also typically lead school songs and spirit cheers in the stands during games.

Pep Band: This is a band that performs at other school sporting or pep events, including basketball games, pep rallies, and potentially other sports. Most high schools and universities have one. These include, typically, only brass, although some include woodwinds. For percussion, they may have only snare drums. They are much smaller than marching bands (perhaps only 20 - 30 players) and they sit in the stands during indoor games. They lead school songs and cheers.

Concert band: This is an indoor, sit down band, which usually plays standard repertoire. It is typically a learning environment for young musicians and maybe even for older ones. It consists of a full range of brass, percussion, and woodwind players (including oboe, bassoon, euphonium, tuba, and melodic percussion). It can consist of 30 - 75 players, and is a generic term for any band that plays indoors.

Symphonic band: This is a large indoor ensemble, which consists of 60 - 70 members, including full clarinet and trumpet sections (3 or 4 players on each part. There are usually three parts for each instrument). The music is usually thickly scored with not too many solos. The sound is well-blended and complex, because the group is so large. Wind ensemble: This is a small indoor ensemble. It consists of only 30 - 40 members, with one or two players on a part. Clarinet and trumpet sections may have only 4 - 6 members. It plays repertoire that is much more thinly scored and which contains a lot of solos.

Jazz band: This is a generic term for any band which plays in the jazz style. It typically contains piano, drum set, bass, saxophones, trumpets, and trombones. They play only jazz-style music, which is written in a swing style often with mutes (the "wa-wa" sound of the cup-muted trumpets is common). Bass and piano figure prominently into the style, and there are many solos. There are different kinds of jazz bands, including cool jazz, big band, and more.

There are many different kinds of bands in today's world. Many of them are found in the schools, as well as in the community. They play an integral role at sporting events, parades, and concerts -- all events that are highly attended by the public.

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