March 17, 2008
Hill Country preview
Thank in no small part to a blurb on The Texas Band Director Yellow Board, today has seen a record number of hits to the blog. (Nearly 1,000 unique visitors? In one day? Really? How the… ?) If every one of those visitors bought the piece, I could afford to move to Austin and buy this house. (Warning: if you click that link, you’ll be subjected to not just the virtual tour of the house, but of a synth recording of the Pachelbel Canon in D. ‘Cause what says classy like the Pachelbel Canon?)
A whole mess of people have clicked the preview file that shows “the tune” of the Grade 3 piece I just finished. Rather than have people think that silly piano sketch never got any more interesting, here’s a PDF of the orchestrated version of the tune.
In case you need a percussion key, the percussion scoring is:
Player 1: Timpani, tuned to F, C, Eb, Gb
Player 2: Xylophone and vibraphone
Player 3: Marimba and four tom-toms
Player 4: 3 cymbals (large suspended cymbal, China, and splash cymbal)
Player 5: Tambourine and crotales
Player 6: Tam-tam (struck only with metal triangle beaters, and muted) and 2 maracas
Player 7: Bass drum
If a band doesn’t have enough players, things could be re-shuffled to omit the tam-tam part, and another player would have to cover the maraca part that happens mid-way through the piece. (That maraca part is easy enough that a wind player could cover it, and many of the wind players don’t play in that maraca section anyway. Can you do that? Say, Clarinet 3 doubling on maracas?) Originally, there wasn’t going to be a timpani part, but Chuck Fischer, one of the directors at Hill Country Middle School, specifically requested that I add one. I’m glad I did, as it’s pretty crucial once the piece gets to the big percussion section break.
The other optional instruments are the Eb contrabass clarinet and the double bass. I haven’t done it yet, but I’ll probably cue the oboe parts elsewhere throughout, just to be safe. Keep in mind, before you email me with “middle school kids can’t do this” complaints, that although it’s commissioned by a middle school band, this group has the ability of a high school group.
I’m done for today. I really just want to go take pictures of stuff, but my camera gear is all in the shop being calibrated. When I dropped off the gear — and I took the body and three of my lenses — the woman at Canon asked me what kind of shooting I did. “Are you a wedding photographer?” “Uh, no, I’m a composer. I take pictures of concerts and… food.” “This is some insane gear for a non-pro,” she said.
Again, your band booster dollars at work.