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Although both the Band of the US Air Force Reserve and the Air Combat Command Heritage of America Band both play the same piece (After the Thunderer), the styles and interpretations vary greatly. The US Air Force Reserve Band tended to play at a slower tempo than the Air Command Band, especially during the beginning of the piece. Overall, however, the US Air Force band tended to rush towards the climax of the phrases, whereas the Air Command Band would gradually build upon the phrase until the main climax of the piece at measures 84 and 85. The Air Command Band also tended to change tempos much more than the Air Force Reserve Band. During most of the crescendos, the Air Command band would insert an accelerando, and during the diminuendos, a ritardando would be played. In contrast, the US Air Force Band followed Mr. Hearshen’s tempo markings more consistently.
There was a glaring similarity in both renditions, however. In both versions, there were areas in which the woodwind section, especially the flutes, would overpower the rest of the band and the melody. During the section from measures 61-85, the Air Force Reserve Band’s flutes were too easily heard over the rest of the band, and overall stood out too much. During the oboe solo starting from measure 17, the Air Combat Command Band’s clarinets were too loud; it seemed more like an oboe and clarinet duet than an oboe solo. During measure 69, in the Air Combat Command Band rendition, the flutes’ whole notes were much louder than the melody.
Finally, the section at measures 39 to 44 sounded more convoluted in the Air Force Reserve’s version. The band didn’t seem together, and the result was a mush. In contrast, the Air Combat Command band could keep in tempo with each other, but at measures 39-44 the tempo seemed a little too rushed, and the melody was slightly dragging. Overall, both bands did very well, though both band’s woodwinds were too loud during some sections.
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