Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Little Band that Could (Angola)

Angola National Band


The Angolan National Band was started in 1979 by seven Salvation Army workers.  I would like you to read this story first from the Boundless 2015 Web Magazine of the Salvation Army.  http://www.boundless2015.org/boundless/news/angola-band-stirs-hearts

I hope you read the story.  Pretty amazing that through a 16 year civil war that this band not only survived but became the National Band of Angola, and in 2015 they took a trip to the UK to perform for Boundless 2015.  Music does not end when political turmoil and upheaval are taking place.  The role of music just changes to fit the need of the individual or group at the time of the performance.   

The march that the Angola National Band is playing for Boundless 2015 is the Emblem of the Army.   

I want to do a little comparison of that performance with this performance of the same march but by the Melbourne Veterans' Band.  This is also a Salvation Army Band.
Here is what I would like you to do.  Please, disregard the video and sound quality as one video is of professional quality and one is an amateur video, but compare the performances.

Now that you have listened to the two different performances and you have assessed the performances on their merit of intonation, rhythm, dynamic, tone quality, balance, etc.  I have one question.  Which band captures the humanist spirit of the march better?  Feel free to include your assessment and reason why in the comments.

My opinion:  Though the Melbourne band performs the march far cleaner and more musically from a technical standpoint it sounds dry and academic.  Where as the Angola group shares their energy of music making with the audience.  The performance has life, a spirit of its own.  I also perceive an engagement between the band and their audience.  I had to listen multiple times to each performance to hear this dimension of music making.  It seems to be missing in the other performance.  I wonder, do we inadvertently lose spirit when we focus continually on the mechanics and techniques of music making, philosophically speaking?  This is why I continue to return to community music making as a teacher.  It rejuvenates my spirit.  

I look forward to reading your comments, thoughts, or philosophical meanderings.  Have a good weekend!



1 comment:

  1. I agree with your opinion about the two performances, the Angola group may not be as clean, but you can tell they are have some passion behind their music.

    I definitely think it's possible to loose sight of the deeper point behind music making when we focus so hard on technique and mechanics. I hear it often with students especially when they play music that is little too difficult for them. They have to focus so hard on the mechanics that the music itself it lost in the process.

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