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Topic: Army Of The Nile (All GPO3)

  1. #1

    Army Of The Nile (All GPO3)

    This is my realisation of Kenneth J Alford's march "Army of the Nile" based on a [GM] MIDI file published freely on the internet.

    I've deliberately tried not to do any editing of the source midi, other than sorting out a few minor anomalies in volume, and adapting the side drum part to the GPO3 instrument, as I wanted to see how well I could get GPO to perform "out of the box", as it were, and on a minimal budget.

    For the same reason it is a "static" mix only - there is no automation, and only native Reaper plugins were used throughout, alongside SIR (1 not 2), and IR's available from Freeverb.org. Additional wav file editing was done in Wavosaur - also free.


    All comments and suggestions welcome!

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2006

    Re: Army Of The Nile (All GPO3)

    Hi Peter,
    The title seems familiar, but I don't recall ever hearing or playing this march.
    Just a reflection of tempo interpretation, I thought British marches mostly used slower tempi than other marches. The place this tempo seems to work best is in the last break strain.
    This recording seems to be very bright rather than dark. I'm thinking that bringing out the lower voices could alter the bright sound.
    Just a thought.
    Nice job putting it together.

  3. #3

    Re: Army Of The Nile (All GPO3)

    Hi Gary

    Thanks for listening, and I think your're right on both counts!

    I've played this march many times in brass bands in the north of England, but not seen it at all elsewhere or for other ensembles.

    I presume it was originally written for a military band, though this was an arrangement from the pen of an ex British Army bandsman and now professional arranger ... but for full orchestra. I presume it was intended as more of a concert march/"Last Night Of the Proms" type of piece than being true to its origins, so I just tried to keep a balance so that all the sections could be heard.

    I would have preferred to work on a purely brass band piece, but good midi files for British brass bands are hard to find, and this suited one my needs for now.

    English brass bands do seem rather heavy on the lower brass compared to American Marching Bands (which I would consider your equivalent, socially speaking) and which have a much higher proportion of higher frequency instruments, I think.

    And English marches do seem to have a somewhat sombre/dark mood compared to the great American marches that I know of.

    As to the speed, I certainly couldn't play at this speed while marching - I find it difficult enough to keep my instrument held in place at slower speeds - and I too have noted that other countries tend to march at a much faster speed than we do. I don't know how they do it, though it's not a skill we get much training (or practice) for over here.

    I did hear there there was a West End show a few years ago where brass players were featured while riding unicycles .. now that I would have like to see!

    Thanks again.

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2006

    Re: Army Of The Nile (All GPO3)

    Hi Peter,
    Good info to me.
    I heard a few Brass Bands when I visited London in 1960, but none since then.
    I did write a piece for a composition opportunity this past fall using the CMB Garritan Sounds & Finale.
    It seems to me that British Marches & German Marches tend to be slower quarter = 110 & American Marches 120. When I was in college, we marched @ 140.
    I think marching is a great deal like dancing. Different tempo determines the style of marching. Slow marching (usually) employs a 30# step while fast marching employs a 22 1/2 " step. With much extra effort faster tempo is used with both.
    My Brother was in an Army Band in Germany in the early 50's & he had to get horses used to drums they were to use in a parade.

  5. #5

    Re: Army Of The Nile (All GPO3)

    Very nice, and very realistic! Like Gary I agree it seems a little bright but overall it's well balanced. I try to get a little oomph from bass drum and timpani in my march renditions to help with the low end, and I sometimes adjust the EQ of the final rendition to boost the low mids and warm it up a bit. On bass drum, I often have to use two different sounds - the default concert bass drum rings foreverrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr, so I substitute a drier sound (even if it comes from a JABB drum kit) to get a nice clean sound. This comes in especially handy on British marches.

  6. #6

    Re: Army Of The Nile (All GPO3)

    Quote Originally Posted by Dargason View Post
    Very nice, and very realistic! ...
    Thanks David!

    Brass and wind band music, particularly in the British tradition, is where most of my music making lies, so you should see more in this vein from me in time, and your suggestions will be very useful, I'm sure.

    But for now I'm just working through the wide range of sounds available in my Garritan collection before finally settling down in my home territory, and hopefully, like you, will eventually find some way of making use of this modern technology for the benefit of (somewhat wary and very traditional) live players and audiences locally.

    Thanks again,


  7. #7

    Re: Army Of The Nile (All GPO3)


    Seeing this thread reminded me of a question I wanted to ask you, and maybe you can answer:

    I believe there was a time when British marching bands had bassoons. Is that still the case? (I heard many years ago that British bands even had a contrabassoon, where the player mounted his instrument on a platform with wheels so it could be rolled along.)

    If you'd like to hear a couple of pieces I might actually finish someday, please visit my virtual concert hall.

  8. #8

    Re: Army Of The Nile (All GPO3)

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Johnson View Post
    I believe there was a time when British marching bands had bassoons. Is that still the case?
    Hi Steve

    Interesting question.

    I can't give a brief authoritative answer, but I can give you a full and inconclusive layman's perspective ...

    We mostly have amateur brass only "brass bands" and some military style woodwind+brass "wind bands" or junior army cadet "pipe and drum" groups who are the ones mostly seen on marches, but for whom marching may in most cases only play a small part of their schedule.

    Various branches of the armed forces (and even some unarmed groups like the Scouts, the police, or other regional authority/employment based groups like the health services) have traditionally had instances of these type of ensembles, though the numbers have sadly been cut drastically in the last 20 years or so.

    The forces usually have "Military Bands" (as well as more original "pipe and drum" bands) which are again largely woodwind and brass and a heavy contingent (by volume if not numbers) of percussion, and exist primarily for marching purpses.

    The forces also have non-marching verions of wind bands that we know as "concert bands", which are also seen in amateur circles, and these obviously exist for indoor performances only.

    As the number of bands in the armed forces have dwindled and resources centralised, I think it is common now for the same players to play in several different ensembles, often on different instruments as necessary/appropriate. I think some of the forces even muster up full orchestras.

    American style "Marching" bands is quite a recent phenomenon in the UK I think, but they have grown in poplularity rapidly somewhat at the expense of our own brass bands and other groups I think, but are still a bit of a rare sight at local functions - they are seen more often at a regional or national level than at a grass roots level.

    I can imagine that bassoons have been tried in various of the wind groups over time, partlicularly in the early post-industrial revolution days when ensembles might have been made up out of whatever players were available at the time rather than having a clear and agreed make up.

    But I can't actually recall a concert or wind band that I've played with that used bassoons, nor can I recall seeing (or now find) a concert or Military band including them - the saxes tend to cover those sorts of parts I think, in some cases with versatile basson players no doubt, I think.

    So perhaps bassoons are generally excluded. But again I don't where, if anywhere, this rule is written down.

    The thought of a bassoonist marching does frighten me however ... we used to play while seated on the back of a lorry at our annual "Lord Mayors" parade until one year, one of the tuba players (ironically a regional Health and Safety officer for one of the railway companies) , fell off as the vehicle shuddered to a halt and was paralysed from the waist down as a result.

    He eventually returned to playing for a while and had a metal frame built to hold the tuba near his wheelchair, but I can't imagine a wheeled device being practical even for an able bodied person. We have too many rough and cobbled streets, and obstacles like speed bumps, traffic bollards ... or even horse droppings ... to avoid while marching.

    Bassons seem unusally open to lethal accidents, given the imminent danger of tripping over, and that very sturdy but long and narrow throat-shaped pipe I can't imagine them having been used anywhere for long without some overzealous official realising the dangers.

    I can however picture a well trained (both musically and physically) soldier sucessfully using a basson while mounted on horseback, where it might work better than some of the larger saxes.

    The sound might carry very well (they tend to be relatively quiet for the size which may be another point against its use) and that would be quite an impressive sight (an important aspect of marching).

    But whether this picture is real or imagined I also don't know!

    My rendition of Army of the Nile does include a bassoon line, and this is an orchestral arrangement penned an ex-military player, so it may have been played officially. I've never hear it played other than by British brass bands.

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