Echoes for brass band and live electronics 1990

Echoes is, as far as I am aware, the first piece of music in which brass band has been combined with electronic equipment. I found the spatial layout of the band very suggestive of musical ideas: cornets to the left, basses and horns in the centre, euphoniums and trombones to the right. This scheme is reinforced and extended in my piece by both the scoring and the electronics. The instrumental chords bounce backwards and forwards between the players, but when they are echoed electronically, the spatial distinction between them becomes even more marked. The loudspeakers, positioned on all four corners of the room, convey the opposing sounds throughout the whole listening space.

The title Echoes does not just refer to the effects created by the electronic devices used in the piece. It also relates to a dim and distant musical model which, very occasionally, emerges from the mists of time. The reference is of course to ‘The Red Flag’ or ‘O Tannenbaum’, perhaps the best-known melody of the British Labour Movement. The intention was not to write any tub-thumping political piece of music, not to propose any pat answers to the problems of today, but rather, simply to remind ourselves of something we should never forget.

© 1990 Tim Souster

Echoes was commissioned by the Equale Trust with support from North West Arts and is dedicated to the Besses o’ th’ Barn Band and its musical advisor Peter Goodwin (Bassano)