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Michael Colgrass

Michael Colgrass

General Info

Year: 2006
Duration: c. 8:10
Difficulty: V (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Carl Fischer
Cost: Score and Parts - $90.00   |   Score Only - $15.00


Full Score
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III-IV-V-VI
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II
Bass Trombone

Piano (with 6 bobby pins for prepared piano)
Percussion I-II-III-IV-V-VI, including:

  • Aluminum Bowls (5: F-A-Bb-C-E, suggested pitches)
  • Bass Drum
  • Bells
  • Ceramic Bowls (5)
  • Chimes
  • Clay Pots (5: F-A-Bb-C-E, suggested pitches)
  • Drums of various pitches (4)
  • Gongs (2)
  • Marimba
  • Sleigh Bells
  • Triangles (medium and large)
  • Vibraphone
  • Wind Chimes


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Bali was inspired by my two summers living in Ubud, the arts-and-crafts center of Bali. The very first sound I heard every morning was a gamelan instrument playing the five-note scale unique to that region of the island.

The Balinese are a warm, playful and artistic-minded people, all of whom play instruments and dance, as well as work in the rice fields. Creativity is such a basic part of their life that they don’t even have a word for it, because it is simply taken for granted as a basis for a spiritual life. The Balinese are a quiet and peace-loving people who have never been successfully occupied by a foreign power. The Dutch, the Japanese, and the Communists all failed to dominate this little island, and finally gave up and left, because they could not conquer the passive resistance of the Balinese people.

This work offers an example of their indomitable spirit. It is divided into three main parts: the bright dance rhythms of the gamelan orchestra are the outer sections, and the middle section is the slow lament for the dead, introduced by an explosion representing the 2002 terrorist bombing of the nightclub in the island’s capital, Denpassar. The offstage oboes represent peace-loving Muslims, who are the majority, grieving for their victims. The Balinese have a unique way of dealing with tragedy: they build a spiritual monument on the spot where the event took place as an offering to the gods. Following the requiem-like music we hear a gradual build-up of bright sounds representing the sun reflecting off of the icon built to the memory of the dead, which then leads to a return of the dance.

- Program Notes by composer

Bali (2005) is a composition for wind band in Balinese style. After spending two summers in the Ubud region of Bali, Michael Colgrass stated that he “had enough daily contact with their music to get it into [his] ear.” When asked if there were elements of Bali that were crucial for a deeper understanding, he responded by identifying the “simplicity of the five-note scale: C-E-F-G-B,” characteristic to Balinese music. Written in three distinct sections, this piece features improvisation and calls for numerous pots and bowls of varying composition that produce pitches as close to the Balinese scale as possible.

- University of North Texas Wind Ensemble concert program, 8 October 2019

On the island of Bali the most prominent indigenous music is played by the gamelan orchestra, an instrumental group which includes mallet instruments, drums, and gongs. This music features the use of a five-note scale, whereas some gamelan music uses a seven-note scale. In this work Colgrass uses dance rhythms in the two outer sections while having a lament for the dead in the middle section. He was inspired to compose the piece while living there and reflecting on the spirit of Balinese people. His piece features the use of non-traditional instruments in the percussion section including clay pots, ceramic bowls, and aluminum bowls as well as bobby pins placed on the piano strings.


State Ratings

  • Kansas: IV
  • Maryland: V
  • Michigan: Senior High C
  • North Carolina: VI
  • Texas: IV. Complete


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • University of Iowa (Iowa City) Symphony Band (Tyler Strickland, conductor) - 17 November 2021
  • Northwestern University (Evanston, Ill.) Symphonic Band (Shawn Vondran, conductor) – 13 March 2020
  • University of West Georgia (Carrollton) Wind Ensemble (Josh Byrd, conductor) – 22 February 2020 (CBDNA 2020 Southern Division Conference, Natchitoches, La.)
  • Keene (N.H.) State College Concert Band (John T. Hart Jr., conductor) - 20 February 2020
  • University of Colorado Boulder Symphonic Band (Matthew Dockendorf, conductor) – 6 February 2020
  • University of Oklahoma (Norman) Symphony Band (Michael E. Hancock, conductor) – 25 November 2019
  • Oregon State University (Corvallis) Wind Ensemble (Erik Leung, conductor) – 21 November 2019
  • Gustavus Adolphus College (St. Peter, Minn.) Wind Symphony (Heidi Johanna Miller, conductor) - 9 November 2019
  • Texas Tech University (Lubbock) Symphonic Band (Kerri MacPhee, conductor) – 27 October 2019
  • University of North Texas (Denton) Wind Ensemble (Daniel Cook, conductor) – 8 October 2019
  • Indiana University (Bloomington) Symphonic Band (Eric M. Smedley, conductor)– 1 October 2019
  • Texas Woman's University (Denton) Wind Symphony (Carter Biggers, conductor) – 30 April 2019
  • Michigan State University (East Lansing) Symphony Band (David Thornton, conductor) – 21 March 2019
  • Grand Street (New York) Community Band (Brian Worsdale, conductor) – 15 December 2018
  • Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, Penn.) Wind Ensemble (George Vosburgh, conductor) – 11 November 2018
  • Ithaca (N.Y.) College Wind Ensemble (Christopher Hughes, conductor) – 7 March 2018
  • Penn State University (University Park) Symphonic Band (Corey Pompey, conductor) – 1 March 2018
  • University of North Texas (Denton) Concert Band (Kelly Desjardins, conductor) – 22 February 2017
  • University of Illinois (Champaign) Hindsley Symphonic Band (Stephen G. Peterson, conductor) – 26 October 2016
  • University of Nebraska (Lincoln) Symphonic Band (Anthony Falcone, conductor) – 28 April 2016

Works for Winds by This Composer


  • Colgrass, M. (2006). Bali: For Wind Ensemble [score]. Colgrass Music: [United States]
  • Hemberger, Glen J. "Bali." In Teaching Music through Performance in Band. Volume 6, edit. & comp. by Richard Miles, 449-454. Chicago: GIA Publications, 2007.