Using Foreign Band Music with American Bands

When bands of the United States and Canada use foreign editions of music, particularly older editions, they invariably encounter problems in matching instruments and parts.  In this appendix, many of the differences are explained, and suggestions are made on how to use parts.

This information was extracted from guidelines established for bands that used music from the private library of the late Robert Hoe, Jr. for recording the Heritage of the March series of LP records.  Numerous American and European bandmasters and librarians were consulted in the preparation of the guidelines.  Although not meant to be a comprehensive set of rules for the use of foreign music publications, their practicality has been demonstrated.

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British Music

Today's editions of British band music are compatible with American band instrumentation.  To use editions printed in the late 1800s, however, adjustments must be made.  British band music of that era was similar to that being published in the United States at the time, although the British sets were usually more complete.  Suggestions for using the old British sets are as follows:

  • E-flat piccolo.  For piccolos pitched in C, this part must be transposed the same way a D-flat piccolo part would be transposed.  (English manufacturers made both E-flat piccolos and E-flat flutes in those days.)  Transposition is confusing, because the E-flat part is actually written in D-flat, and the F part is written in E-flat.
  • Alto clarinet.  The E-flat saxophone part was often used for the E-flat alto clarinet.  This part was usually more suitable for the saxophone than for the alto clarinet.
  • Bass clarinet.  Bass clarinet parts were often printed in the bass clef rather than the treble clef, particularly in older sets.  They were sometimes printed on the same page with the bassoon part, also in the bass clef.  Most bass clarinet players do not read bass clef, so the parts should be re-written in the treble clef in B-flat.
  • E-flat trumpet.  If used with B-flat instruments, this part must be transposed by raising it a fourth.  Important melodic and fanfare parts often occur in this part, so it should not be omitted.
  • Solo E-flat saxhorn.  This part was originally intended for the E-flat alto horn.  It may be used by the alto saxophone if no part is provided for it.  It may also be transposed for French horn.
  • 1st and 2nd trombones.  These parts were often written in the tenor clef rather than the bass clef.  If the players do not read tenor clef, the parts must be re-written in the bass clef.  (Note that the 3rd trombone or bass trombone parts in British editions have always been written in the bass clef.)
  • Baritone (treble clef) and euphonium (bass clef).  These are two different parts, and neither should be omitted.  The British Army deleted the baritone from its bands in 1921, and publishers thereafter assigned the baritone part to the tenor saxophone.  For the sake of authenticity, post-1921 tenor saxophone parts should usually be played on the euphonium or baritone.  Certain works were issued in special expanded editions which could be used with either military (concert) bands or British-style all-brass bands.  In the expanded sets, there were four baritone/euphonium parts: 1st baritone (treble clef), 2nd baritone (treble clef), B-flat euphonium (treble clef) and euphonium (bass clef).  The two baritone parts were intended for brass bands only, so the two euphonium parts should be used with military bands.

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Italian Music

Until very recently, Italian band music was published in full conductor's score only, so it was necessary to extract parts for the musicians.  This applied not only to shorter works, such as marches, but also to lengthy works such as the tone poems of Respighi.  Italian instrumentation differs from American instrumentation in that the saxhorn family is the basis of the brass section, with the flugelhorn being the predominant soprano voice.  A typical Italian publication contains the following parts:

  • Ottavino in Re b, or piccolo. Piccolo in D-flat
  • Flauto in Do. Flute in C
  • Clarinetto piccolo in La b. A-flat sopranino clarinet
  • Clarinetto piccolo in Mi b. E-flat sopranino clarinet
  • Clarinetto soprani in Si b. B-flat clarinet
  • Clarinetto contralti in Mi b. E-flat alto clarinet
  • Clarinetto basse in Si b. B-flat bass clarinet
  • Saxofono soprano. Soprano saxophone
  • Saxofono contralte. Alto saxophone
  • Saxofono tenore. Tenor saxophone
  • Saxofono baritone. Baritone saxophone
  • Contralto in Mi b. E-flat horn
  • Cornetta in Si b. B-flat cornet
  • Trombe in Mi b. E-flat trumpet
  • Trombe in Si b. B-flat bass trumpet
  • Corno in Mi b. E-flat horn
  • Trombone del canto. Tenor horn or small bore euphonium
  • Trombone tenore. Tenor trombone
  • Trombone basso. Bass trombone
  • Flicorni sopranino in Mi b. E-flat soprano flugelhorn
  • Flicorni soprani in Si b. B-flat flugelhorn
  • Flicorni contralte (genis). Alto flugelhorn (alto horn) in Mi b
  • Flicorni tenore. Baritone (treble clef)
  • Flicorni baritone in Si b (bombardino). Euphonium (bass clef)
  • Flicorni basso or basso. Bass I grave (eufonio)
  • Flicorni contrabassi. Bass II
  • Timpani. Tympani
  • Triangolo e tamboro. Triangle and snare drum
  • G. cassa e piatti. Bass drum and cymbals

American bands using Italian music should distribute parts in the following manner:

  • Piccolo. Octavino in Re b
  • Flute. Flauto in Do
  • Oboe. Create part from Flute & 1st clarinet
  • Bassoon. Flicorni basso
  • E-flat clarinet. Clarinetto piccolo in Mi b
  • 1st, 2nd, 3rd clarinet. Clarinetto soprani in Si b
  • Alto clarinet. Clarinetto contralto in Mi b
  • Bass clarinet. Clarinetto bassi in Si b
  • Alto saxophone. Saxofono contralto
  • Tenor saxophone. Saxofono tenore
  • Baritone saxophone. Saxofono baritono
  • 1st, 2nd, 3rd cornet. Flicorni soprani in Si b
  • Trumpet. Cornetti in Si b (essential part)
  • French horn. Contralti in Mi b & corni in Mi b (both are essential parts)
  • 1st, 2nd trombone. Trombone tenore
  • 3rd trombone. Trombone basso
  • Euphonium (treble clef). Flicorni tenore (essential part)
  • Euphonium (bass clef). Flicorni baritono in Si b (essential part)
  • Tuba. Flicorni basso & flicorni contrassi
  • Percussion. Tympani, triangolo e tamboro & G. cassa e piatti
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Spanish Music

As in Italian bands, the main soprano brass instrument is the flugelhorn.  For authentic renditions of music such as the unique pasodobles, parts marked for the flugelhorns should be played only on those instruments.  If flugelhorns are not available, those parts should be played on cornets, not trumpets.  Spanish band editions include the following parts:

  • Guion. Conductor (usually in B-flat)
  • Flautin. Piccolo
  • Flauta. Flute
  • Reliquinto. E-flat soprano clarinet
  • Clarinete pral. Solo B-flat clarinet
  • Clarinete 1o, 2o, 3o. 1st, 2nd, 3rd clarinet
  • Clarinete bajo. Bass clarinet
  • Oboe. Oboe
  • Fagot. Bassoon
  • Saxofon alto. Alto saxophone
  • Saxofon tenor. Tenor saxophone
  • Saxofon baritono. Baritone saxophone
  • Fliscorno primero. 1st flugelhorn
  • Fliscorno segundo. 2nd flugelhorn
  • Cornettin. Cornets (often fanfare-like parts)
  • Trompeta. Trumpet
  • Trompa. French horn
  • Trombon. Trombone
  • Bombardino (baritone). Euphonium or baritone
  • Bajo. Bass
  • Caja. Snare drum
  • Bombo. Bass drum
  • Platillos. Cymbals
  • Timbales. Tympani

Spanish publishers do not consistently provide parts for all instruments used in American bands, so American bands can adapt the following parts if necessary:

  • Alto clarinet. Saxofoni contralte
  • Bass clarinet. Saxofoni tenor
  • Bassoon. Trombon 3 or bajos
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German Music

German editions of band music are much different from those of most other countries in that they make unusually heavy demands on the brass section.  Basically, there are two types of German band publications.  The first is blechmusik%r, for all-brass bands.  The second is militarmusik (infantrie-musik), which is for concert/military bands.  [For further information on German band instrumentation, see the biography of Wilhelm Wieprecht.]  The parts provided with a militarmusik (infantrie-musik) set are as follows:

  • Direktion. Conductor
  • Kleine flote. Piccolo in D-flat
  • Flote in Des. Flute in D-flat
  • Flote in C. Flute in C
  • Oboe. Oboe
  • Fagott. Bassoon
  • Klarinette in As. Sopranino clarinet in A-flat
  • Klarinette in Es. E-flat clarinet
  • Klarinette in B. B-flat clarinet
  • Bassklarinette. Bass clarinet
  • Alt saxophon in Es. Alto saxophone
  • Tenor saxophon. Tenor saxophone
  • Bariton saxophon. Baritone saxophone
  • Piston in Es. E-flat cornet
  • Piston in B-flat. B-flat cornet
  • Flugelhorn in B-flat. B-flat flugelhorn
  • Trompete in B-flat. B-flat trumpet
  • Trompete in Es. E-flat trumpet
  • Althorn in B-flat. B-flat alto horn
  • Horn in Es. E-flat horn
  • Tenor horn (Germany) & Bass flugelhorn (Austria). see discussion below
  • Bariton. see discussion below
  • Posaune. Trombone
  • Basstuba. Tuba
  • Schlagzeug (batterie). Percussion
  • Kleine trommel. Snare drum
  • Grosse trommel. Bass drum
  • Pauken. Timpani
  • Becken. Cymbals
  • Lyra (Glocken). Bells (glockenspiel)

German editions need to be studied carefully before use by American bands.  Omitting certain parts would destroy much of the unique Teutonic flavor.  Some suggestions for distributing parts are as follows:

  • Piston in B-flat.  This is the leading brass voice.
  • Flugelhorn in B-flat.  If no piston in B-flat part is provided, this is the leading brass voice.
  • Trompete in B-flat.  This is an essential part, especially in marches.  In transcriptions of symphonic works, this part covers important trumpet parts.
  • Trompete in Es.  This part is more rhythmic than melodic and is intended to be played on an alto trumpet.  It usually reinforces the trombone.
  • Tenor horn (bass flugelhorn).  These are essential parts.   In most German band publications, there are three separate tenor horn parts:
    • The tenor horn 1 part is the leading tenor voice and should be played on the euphonium;
    • the tenor horn 2 part is a harmonic part and can be played on the tenor saxophone;
    • the tenor horn 3 part is rhythmic and can be played on the bass clarinet.
    There is only one tenor horn part (bass flugelhorn) in Austrian editions, and this should be played on the euphonium.
  • Bariton.  This is a prominent part and should be played on the euphonium.

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French Music

There are several difficulties when using French band music with American bands, so thorough study of each individual part is recommended.  Since there are many fine works available only in French editions, the study is usually worth the effort.  A typical French band publication has these parts:

  • Conducteur en Si b. Conductor in B-flat
  • Petite flute en Re b. D-flat piccolo
  • Grand flute en ut.Flute in C
  • Hautbois. Oboe
  • Contrabssse en Mi b.Bassoon
  • Petite clarinette en Mi b.E-flat soprano clarinet
  • Clarinette in Si b. B-flat clarinet
  • Saxophone alto. Alto saxophone
  • Saxophone tenor.Tenor saxophone
  • Saxophone baritone. Baritone saxophone
  • Petit bugle en Mi b.E-flat flugelhorn.
  • Bugle en Si b.Flugelhorn in B-flat
  • Cornet en Si b (cornet-a-piston).B-flat cornetbajo
  • Trompette en Mi b.E-flat trumpet
  • Alto en Mi b. E-flat alto horn
  • Cor.en Mi b. E-flat horns
  • Trombone. Trombone
  • Baryton (treble clef).Baritone (treble clef)
  • Basse in Si b (basse primier or basse solo). Euphonium (bass clef)
  • Contrabasse en Mi b.Tuba I in E-flat (bass clef)
  • Contrabasse en Si b.Tuba II in B-flat (bass clef)
  • Caisse claire.Snare drum
  • Grosse caisse et cambales.Bass drum and cymbals
  • Castagnettes et triangle. Castanets and triangle

Guidelines for using certain parts with American bands are given below.  It is very important to note that parts printed in the bass clef must be transposed to concert pitch.

  • Bugle in Si b.  Using this part is optional, because it usually doubles the clarinet part.
  • Cornet en Si b.  This is the leading brass voice.
  • Trompettes en Mi b.  These are important parts and should not be omitted.  They must be transposed up a fourth.
  • Cors en Mi b.  These parts should always be used.  They are often coordinated with the altos en Mi b to provide four-part harmony.
  • Baryton (treble clef).  This is the most important euphonium part.
  • Basse en Si b (basse primier or basse solo).  To arrive at concert pitch, this part must be transposed down one full step.
  • Contrabasse en Mi b.  To arrive at concert pitch, this part must be transposed down a sixth.
  • Contrabasse en Si b.  To arrive at concert pitch, this part must be transposed down a ninth.
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Foreign Band Music

American and Foreign Instrumentation Conversion Chart

American British Italian Spanish German French
Piccolo Piccolo* Ottavino, or Flauto piccolo Flautin* Kleine flote* Petite flute*
Flute Flute Flauto Flaute, or flauta Flote Grand Flute
Oboe Oboe (2) Oboe Oboe Hautbois
Bassoon Bassoon Flicorni basso, or fagotto Fagot Fagott Basoon*
E-flat Clarinet E-flat Clarinet Clarinetto piccolo Mib Reliquinto Klarinette Es Petite clarinette Mib
B-flat Clarinet B-flat Clarinet Clarinetto soprani sib 1,2,3,4 Clarinete pral 1o,2o, 3o Klarinette in B 1,2,3,4 Clarinette sib 1,2,3,4
Alto Clarinet Alto Clarinet Clarinetto contralti Mib None (1) None None
Bass Clarinet Bass Clarinet Clarinetto basso Sib Clarinete bajo Bassklarinette Clarinette bajo
Alto Saxophone Alto Saxophone Saxofono contralto Saxofon alto Alt Saxofon Saxophone Alto
Tenor Saxophone Tenor Saxophone Saxofone Tenore Saxofon Tenor Tenor Saxpphon Saxophone Tenor
Baritone Saxophone Baritone Saxophone Saxofono Baritono Saxofon Baritono Bariton Saxophon Saxophone Baritone
Cornet Cornet Flicorni Soprani Sib, or Cornetta Cornetin, or Fliscorno Primero (1) & Fliscorno Secondo (2) Piston, Flugehron (1), or Kornett Cornet Sib, or cornet-a-piston
Trumpet Trumpet* Tromba, or cornetta Sib Trompeta, Cornetta (1) Trompete (1) Trompette Mib*
French Horn French Horn* Contralti Mib, or Corno Mib (1) Trompa* Horn* Altos, Cors Mib*(1)
Trombone Trombone* Trombone Tenore & Trombone Basso Trombon Posaune Trombone
Euphonium or Baritone (treble clef) Euphonium or Baritone (treble clef)(1) Flicorni Tenore, or Bombarda Tenor Bombardino Baritono Tenor Horn or Bass Flugelhorn(1) Baryton
Euphonium (bass clef) Euphonium (bass clef)(1) Flicorni Baritono Sib Bombardino Baritono, or Saxhorn Baritono Bariton (Baryton), or Euphonium (1) Base Sib, Saxhorn Bajo, or Bariton*
Tuba (Bass) Tuba (Bass)* Flicorni Basso & Flicorni Contrabassi, or Tuba di Basso Bajo or Saxhorn Bajo Bass Tuba or Basstuba Contrabasse Sib & Mib, or Tubabasse
Percussion Percussion (1) Percussion Percussion Schlagzeug Batterie

* - Some parts need to be transposed.
(1) see text
(2) part may need to be created

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