An introduction to: Brass Bands (by "Making Music / UK")
A brass band is a musical ensemble consisting almost entirely of a standard range of brass instruments. The typical brass band sound comes from the set types and shapes of instruments used: the flugelhorn, soprano cornet and baritone horn, for example, help to create the bright, melodic sound of a brass band, very different to the dark and symphonic sound typical of orchestral brass.
WHAT IS A BRASS BAND? by NABBA
What makes the brass band unique? All the brass music (with the exception of the bass trombone) is scored in treble clef, a characteristic that over the years has allowed for remarkable freedom among certain bands, making the transition from one instrument to another somewhat easier. The number of members (instrumentation) is rigid, usually limited to between twenty-eight and thirty players, but the repertoire is unusually flexible, with concert programs consisting of anything from original works, orchestral transcriptions and featured soloists to novelty items, marches, medleys, and hymn tune arrangements.
With the exception of the trombones, all instruments are conical in design, producing a more mellow, richer sound, yet one that has wide dynamic and coloristic variety. The term “brass band” is not entirely accurate, since brass bands also normally include up to three percussion players who are called upon to play as many as twenty different instruments depending on the demands of the music. Standard acceptance of more than one percussionist in the brass band is really a phenomenon of the last forty years, but one that has added immense challenge, interest and variety to the sound.