Authentic 1860s brass group

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Glennx, Oct 3, 2010.

  1. Glennx

    Glennx Pianissimo User

    Aug 16, 2009
    Here's something a little different:

    Each year we go to Upper Canada Village (Upper Canada Village - Morrisburg, Ontario, Canada) located about 90 minutes south of Ottawa in southern Ontario. It's a period re-creation of a typical 1860s village with 40 authentic buildings and period-costumed staff who assume the roles of their characters ie. schoolteacher, parson, blacksmith, doctor, etc.

    Two weekends ago was their annual Fall Fair. They had a 5-piece brass band playing authentic period instruments and sounding pretty good. They played forever and seemed to have no shortage of chops. I didn't have a chance to talk to the players, but was fascinated by their instruments and managed to
    take some pics. The only piston instrument is the...cornet? Pocket trumpet? The others all have rotary valves. The lead player (wearing the bonnet) is playing an E-flat horn. And all the bells point outward from the group!

    Here are links to some close-up pics:

    ...and the performance video I just posted on YouTube:

    YouTube - 1860s brass band.wmv

    Anyone know anything about these instruments?
  2. Dale Proctor

    Dale Proctor Utimate User

    Jul 20, 2006
    Heart of Dixie
    Other than the more modern pocket trumpet played by one of the band members, they appear to be over-the shoulder (OTS) Saxhorns. They could be authentic ones or modern copies, or a mixture. I play in a similar group with 5 brass and 2 percussion - Eb cornet, Bb cornet, Eb alto, Bb baritone, Eb bass, rope tension snare and bass drums and cymbals. Take a look at our web site for pictures and descriptions of the authentic instruments we play, which are similar to the ones played by the group you saw. Most all American instruments from this period were rotary valve. The OTS horns were developed as marching instruments, so the band (which marched in the front of the column near the officers) could be heard by the troops behind.

  3. Solar Bell

    Solar Bell Moderator Staff Member

    May 11, 2005
    Metro Detroit

    Were there women in these original bands? I don't remember ever seeing women in the vintage photographs I have seen.
  4. Dale Proctor

    Dale Proctor Utimate User

    Jul 20, 2006
    Heart of Dixie
    I've not seen any pictures of bands with women members before the 1890's or so. There were probably rare examples, but I'm pretty sure the brass bands of the 1850's through at least the 1870's were just about exclusively male - playing "popular" music on crass brass instruments was not a ladylike thing to do. Some period bands today have women members, but have to portray a civilian band (unless the woman is disguised as a man), as there were surely no women in army bands during the Civil War era.
  5. Mark B

    Mark B Pianissimo User

    Aug 20, 2010
    Redlands, CA
    Really cool.

    I was wondering the same thing about women. Surely this would have been frowned upon as unladylike. Not just the playing, but the fraternization with men would have been strictly taboo.

  6. Sterling

    Sterling Mezzo Forte User

    Oct 22, 2007
    Marcellus, NY
    Along with Dale's group, check out our Civil War brass band: We play on both over the shoulder saxhorns and bell front rotary cornets. Fun stuff!

Share This Page