Capturing the Characteristic: Transcription in the Modern Wind Band

Open Access
Czekaj, Ryan Michael
Area of Honors:
Music Education
Bachelor of Music Education
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Dr. Linda Thornton, Honors Advisor
  • Professor Dennis Glocke, Thesis Supervisor
  • Dr. Eric Bush, Faculty Reader
  • Band
  • Wind Band
  • Wind Ensemble
  • Transcription
  • Orchestral Transcription
The purpose of this study was to examine the function of transcription in the modern wind ensemble. Data were gathered via the creation of an original transcription, interviews with Elgar scholars, a survey of the Big Ten Band Director’s Association, and an analysis of concert programs from Big Ten Academic Alliance (BTAA) bands. Elgar’s Mazurka from the Three Characteristic Pieces, Op. 10 was transcribed for modified wind ensemble. Live interviews were conducted in July 2018 with ten Elgarians from a variety of musical backgrounds. All BTAA band directors were contacted and asked to complete a survey consisting of six open-ended questions, as well as submit concert programs for their ensemble(s) from fall 2013-spring 2018. Findings suggest that a modern transcriber must actively seek to capture a composer’s sound, through means such as a conceptual transcription and manuscript study. All Elgarians interviewed stated that the transcription of the Mazurka preserves the characteristics of Elgar’s sound. Out of twelve total characteristics of quality transcriptions listed by responding BTAA directors, 62.5% of respondents included “integrity of the music is preserved” and 56.3% included “transcription writes for winds with characteristic sounds”. Of the 1,909 performances catalogued in this study, 416 (21.8%) were transcriptions, with 297 (15.6%) being specifically transcriptions of orchestral literature.