Songs and Refrains - Suite for Wind Band

2006, rev. 2007. Published by Maecenas Music. Duration 20' approx.

 

I. Arkendale

II. Strawberry Fair

III. The Night Watch

IV. Dashing Away with the Smoothing Iron

 

 

 

Each movement of Songs and Refrains is available separately and can be performed as an individual concert item. 

 

First performance - August 2006, St. John's, Smith Square

Hertfordshire Wind Sinfonia, cond. Mark Eager

 

"Four traditional airs arranged with dash, flair, sensitivity and real insight into how to show off a band."

 

"Beautiful and evocative; a wonderful addition to the repertoire." (Arkendale)

 

"Superb scoring [with] a hint of humour." (Strawberry Fair)

 

"Arranged with space and a fine sense of architecture." (The Night Watch)

 

"The finale will bring the house down!" (Dashing Away With The Smoothing Iron)

 

Scoring

Piccolo, Flutes 1 & 2

2 Oboes, English Horn

E flat Clarinet, Clarinets 1, 2, 3, Bass Clarinet (Contrabass Clarinet in B flat ad lib.)

2 Bassoons, Contrabassoon

Alto Saxophones 1 & 2, Tenor Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone

 

4 Horns

4 Trumpets

3 Trombones (3 = bass)

Euphoniums/Baritones (T.C./B.C.)

Tubas

 

Timpani (4 drums)

Percussion (4 players): Xylophone, Glockenspiel, Tubular Bells, Marimba (4-octave), Bass Drum, Snare Drum, Tenor Drum, Pair Cymbals, Suspended Cymbal, Triangle, Tam-tam, Castanets, Finger Cymbals, Mark Tree, Anvil, Whip, Ratchet

 

Celesta (or Keyboard)

Harp (or Keyboard)

Organ ad lib.

 

Programme Note

The four movements of Songs & Refrains are each based on a different folksong, all having various origins. The melodies are straightforward, thus providing much scope for a composer to elaborate on the material. Each movement can be seen to adopt a ‘micro’ theme-and-variation form, in that a melody is initially presented simply, and is then played around with. Some melodic fragments provide harmonies, or countermelodies grow out of the original material. All the songs had words linked to them; the verses that link the songs most closely to the music are given below:

 

I. Arkendale (based on a melody by Walford Davies; arranged by kind permission of Anthony Wilson & The Walford Davies Estate).

The road that leads to Arkendale Is one I’ve never been. The fingerpost to Arkendale Is all I’ve ever seen. I dare not go to Arkendale Though fair its sweet name seems, Lest I should find an Arkendale Less lovely than my dreams.

A slightly fantastical element is suggested in this song, which translates into lilting chordal accompaniments over which the tunes seems to float. The movement is roughly arc-like, building to a climax then subsiding into a calmer coda.

 

II. Strawberry Fair

As I was going to Strawberry Fair, Singing Buttercups and Daisies, I met a maiden taking her ware, Foldedee! Her eyes were blue and golden her hair As she went on to Strawberry Fair.

This movement is a simply constructed, colourful scherzo with a quieter central section that leads to a sprightly dance-like close.

 

III. The Night Watch (based on a melody by Walford Davies; arranged by kind permission of Anthony Wilson & The Walford Davies Estate).

When the night shadows dimly steal around, Thoughts of his home arise. There as he paces his narrow plot of ground Under the brooding skies. Visions of his home and friends draw near, And loving voices that he longs to hear Speak with a tender message to his ear, Under the brooding skies.

I have interpreted the song and the accompanying words as reflective: a night watchman remembering people and the past. There is much use of smaller instrumental groupings in the movement, which gives the music a more intimate and gentle side. I have dedicated this suite to Hertfordshire County Youth Orchestra, having made many friends within the group over the years and I enjoy continuing to participate in it. But this movement also reminds me of school and college friends, and as such I dedicate this movement to them too.

 

IV. Dashing Away With the Smoothing Iron

‘Twas on a Monday morning When I beheld my darling: She looked so neat and charming in every high degree. She looked so neat and nimble, O, A-washing of her linen, O, Dashing away with the smoothing iron, She stole my heart away.

A suddenly boisterous finale compared to the other songs provides a humorous and fast-paced close to the suite. I have fond memories of singing an arrangement of this piece in the school choir when I was 13. It is catchy and is in compound time, with a very cheeky side to it that was irresistible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First ten pages of Score can be viewed online and downloaded at Maecenas' website. 

 

 

Directs to VIDEOS page for a YouTube playlist of the 2007 recording of the piece.

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