How about Some Brass Band Music?

L'Avenir de Lignières, Concert annuel 2019Tonight was the annual concert of my village’s brass band, L’Avenir.  The brass band has two major concerts per year, in the spring and at Advent, and performs at events such as the 1er août and Désalpe.  The band often has joint concerts with other bands in the region, both in Lignières and their homes, and competes in regional and national contests and has historically performed very well for a volunteer band from a village of around 1000 people.

Vin: membre d'honneurThe concerts turn out a substantial fraction of the village.  I’m not skilled at estimating crowds, but this one pretty much filled up the school gymnasium where it was held, and I’d guess there were around 350 people there.  I rarely miss a concert, but this was one where attendance was obligatoire, because I was to be made an honorary member of the band due to my support over the last quarter century.  (If you knew how rudimentary my musical talent is, you’d appreciate what an honour this is.)  I got a specially inscribed magnum of Neuchâtel Pinot Noir and applause from the crowd.

Let’s get to the music.  Here are three of the pieces from the concert.  These were recorded with my Canon S100 pocket camera (the same one that froze solid at the South Pole, but worked fine when it thawed out and continues to soldier on six years later), then converted with OpenShot to OGG (Theora/Vobis) format at 360 pixel resolution with medium quality video, but full CD-quality stereo audio, which is what matters.  I’ll bet you can’t turn your computer speakers up high enough to be as loud as it was in person.

The repertoire is varied: lots of classic brass band material like marches, but also jazz, classical music like Grieg’s Peer Gynt suite and, as you’ll see and hear, movie music.  Goutez!


Author: John Walker

Founder of, Autodesk, Inc., and Marinchip Systems. Author of The Hacker's Diet. Creator of

11 thoughts on “How about Some Brass Band Music?”

  1. Congratulations, John, at least they didn’t tease you and get you a bottle of John Walker whiskey. But then again I don’t think this was in their budget.

    All kidding aside, quite an honor!

  2. civil westman:
    Ca ne marche pas, ni l’audio ou le video – pas du tout! Peut-Être a cause de ma MacOS/Safari?

    Welcome to the world (or Hell) of video and audio embedding.  For both video and audio, there are three different formats widely in use, and there is no single format which works with every browser and hardware platform.  I encoded the video in Ogg (.ogv, Theora/Vorbis encoding), a non-proprietary format which is compact and works on the largest number of platforms but not, apparently, Safari.  By jumping through hoops, it is possible to also encode the videos in the other two formats (MPEG-4 and WebM) and upload them, which  would more than triple the already enormous size of these files (each of the videos is around 50 megabytes, and MPEG-4 and WebM are not as efficient in encoding as Ogg).  I am no longer willing to jump through hoops to work around gratuitous incompatibility in something as simple as playing a video in a Web page—something people have been doing for twenty-five years.

    They’re nice videos, really.  Think about them while watching the blank screen in silence.  They may work in another browser: they play fine for me in Google Chrome on Linux, but I don’t know if they’ll work in Chrome on a Mac (in other words, whether it’s a browser or operating system issue).

    Meanwhile, here is a video of the brass band I put on YouTube ten years ago.

  3. Thanks for your willingness to explain these technicalities. As one who lives in the ubiquitous cultural/community desert of American suburbs, I am a bit envious of the community of which you are part. I would trade where I live for just about anywhere in Switzerland in a heartbeat. The Swiss, IMO, get a bad rap as to being welcoming of étrangers. That prejudice simply cannot be true in a country where almost one-third of residents are foreign nationals; at the personal level, I have nearly always felt a warm welcome anywhere in Switzerland.

    I lived in Lausanne (studying medicine) from mid 1969 until the end of 1970. As the Swissair combi (the front half was passenger seating, back half cargo) aircraft (pretty sure it was a 707, not the 747 combis I found in a quick web search) lifted off to take me back to New Jersey for the last time, I actually cried, saying to myself I would never be happy living anywhere else (I dropped out of school and came home with my tail between my legs due to my wife’s having left me). To a large extent, I’m sorry to say, that turned out to be a prescient, indeed. I wish the Swiss were not so competent at enforcing their borders.

    Even a superficial knowledge of your experience in Lignières says a lot about the decency of Swiss society. I know the Suisse Romande is generally viewed as plus sympathique, but I have had similar welcoming experiences in Zurich. Your participation in various community activities, of course, demonstrates a certain civic virtue which any society ought to be able to expect from newcomers. Saying so in front of any self-professed ‘tolerant’ American progressives, of course, would lead to my immediate expulsion from their warm, cuddly midst. In other words, you have surely done your part in order to become accepted as a full-fledged member of a real and wonderful community. I really do envy you.


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