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Brass Ensembles

The Brass Quintet:

The traditional brass quintet consists of two trumpets, a horn, trombone, and tuba. A brass sextet adds the euphonium.

When writing for this group, it is typical to use a SA-TB-B voicing, where the trumpets and horn and trombone are in pairs with the tuba covering the bass.

Due to the smaller ensemble, it is not uncommon for players to display virtuosic techniques, such as an increased range or agility typically not found in larger ensembles.

The Brass Choir:

The brass choir, and in England, the brass band, is a larger ensemble. Due to the homogenous nature of the brass family, the sound can be compared to an organ.

There is no established standard for brass choirs, unlike the British brass band. As such, there are ensembles that may be 3-2-2-1-1 (3 trumpets, 2 horns, 2 trombones, 1 euphonium, 1 tuba), or even 4-2-3-2-1. The british brass band uses a wider range of instruments.

Due to the military history of these ensembles, there is a significant number of works that have been written for these ensembles, which only reinforces the “noble” nature of the brass family.

When writing for brass choir, it is best to treat it as a miniature orchestra, where individual parts interact independently with one another.

Others:

There are other brass ensembles.  These usually are simply groups of the same instrument, such as trumpet or tuba choir.  The U.S. Herald Trumpets are a unique ensemble containing trumpets of various sizes that cover most of the range of the brass family.

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