Icons of England
  • Introduction
  • The Icons
  • Nominations
  • News
  • Learn & Play
  • Your Comments

Brass Bands

Brass Bands
The Black Dyke Band ©Black Dyke Band

What does the sound of a brass band mean to you? Does it evoke images of England in “the good old days”? Maybe memories of the country’s parks and promenades ringing with the strains of Sousa and Sullivan spring to mind…


From their humble origins in the small towns of the industrial revolution, brass bands have, in many cases, endured longer than the factories and mines they were sponsored by. The closure of the pits and widespread industrial decline should have killed off this great musical tradition, and yet it is flourishing.

In the nineteenth century, championship contests could attract audiences of up to 80,000 people and the huge success of the 1996 film Brassed Off proves that brass bands are still as popular as ever.

Brass bands traditionally have 27 members, playing a mixture of valved, metal instruments (e.g. cornets and tubas), trombones and percussion. While originally they played arrangements of classical music, hymns and popular songs such as Danny Boy, nowadays you will find them playing anything from pop music to Star Wars! 


Click here to start exploring…