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Colonial Song (ed Rogers)

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Percy Aldridge Grainger

Percy Aldridge Grainger (ed. R Mark Rogers)

General Info

Year: 1919 / 1997
Duration: c. 5:50
Difficulty: V (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Southern Music
Cost: Score and Parts - $84.95   |   Score Only - $14.95


Full Score
C Piccolo I-II
Flute I-II
Flute III (substitute for E-flat Clarinet)
Oboe I-II
Bassoon I-II
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Clarinet I-II-III-IV
E-flat Alto Clarinet
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Contrabass Clarinet (substitute for Contrabassoon)
B-flat Contrabass Clarinet (substitute for Contrabassoon)
B-flat Soprano Saxophone
E-flat Special Alto Saxophone (substitute for B-flat Soprano Saxophone)
E-flat Alto Saxophone
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet I-II
B-flat Flugelhorn I-II
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
String Bass
Piano (use several players)
Harp (use several players)
Percussion I-II (4 players), including:

  • Glockenspiel
  • Snare Drum
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Tam-Tam


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

The bulk of Grainger's Colonial Song is constructed in a straightforward homophonic fashion, featuring a simple melody accompanied by unencumbered woodwind arpeggios. These segments represent a grade level manageable by a wind variety of ensembles. However, there is an interior portion of this work that increases the technical and musical demands significantly, and the ensemble must be able to function cohesively to ensure success. The arioso-like extensions on melodic lines require expressive freedom without a loss of metronomic discipline. All ensemble performers have meaningful melodic or counter-melodic responsibilities in this thoughtful composition.

- Notes from Great Music for Wind Band

Grainger initially wrote Colonial Song in 1911 as a piano piece as a gift to his mother, Rose. Of his piece, Grainger wrote that it was "an attempt to write a melody as typical of the Australian countryside as Stephen Foster's exquisite songs are typical of rural America". Although the piece seems to have been intended as part of a series of ‘sentimentals,’ Grainger never wrote any other pieces in this series. Unlike many of Grainger's other compositions, the melodies of Colonial Song are not based on folk song, but are original melodies.

- Notes from Wikipedia.

In a letter to Frederick Fennell, Grainger explains that his Colonial Song was “an attempt to write a melody as typical of the Australian countryside as Stephen Foster’s exquisite songs are typical of rural America.” The main tune of the work, which is presented by solo saxophone shortly into the piece, makes appearances in two other Grainger compositions (Australian Up-Country Tune and Gumsuckers March) but it makes its biggest splash here, as it grows from a wistful tune into a fully romanticized tumbling of low reeds and brasses before returning to the material and texture that began the work.

- Program Note by Jacob Wallace for Baylor Wind Ensemble concert program, 11 February 2016

The editor writes, “Percy Grainger’s art is inextricably linked to folk music. Grainger’s settings of British, Danish, and American folk music are the finest of their kind, prompting no less a figure than Benjamin Britten to declare that Grainger was his ‘master’ in the art of setting folk music. Among those works written in conscious imitation of folk-style, Colonial Song is perhaps the finest of any of his original works.”

The musical material of Colonial Song dates from 1905. The work is dedicated to Grainger’s mother, and Grainger describes,

“No traditional tunes of any kind are made use of in this piece, in which I have wished to express feelings aroused by thoughts of the scenery and people of my native land, Australia, and also to voice a certain kind of emotion that seems to me not untypical of native-born Colonials in general. Perhaps it is not unnatural that people living more or less lonelily in vast virgin countries and struggling against natural and climatic hardships (rather than against the more actively and dramatically exciting counter wills of the fellow men, as in more thickly populated lands) should run largely to that patiently yearning, inactive sentimental wistfulness that we find so touchingly expressed in much American art. I have also noticed curious almost Italian-like musical tendencies in brass band performances and ways of singing in Australia (such as a preference for richness and intensity of tone and soulful breadth of phrasing over more subtly and sensitively varied delicacies of expression), which are also reflected here.”

- Program Notes by Jennifer Daffinee for the 2016 Texas All-State Symphonic Band concert program, 13 February 2016


State Ratings

  • Florida: V
  • Georgia: VI
  • Kansas: V
  • Louisiana: V
  • Mississippi: BAND CLASSES 4A, 5A, & 6A
  • New York: VI
  • Texas: V. Complete


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Ball State University (Muncie, Ind.) Wind Ensemble (Thomas Caneva, conductor) – 18 February 2023 (CBDNA 2023 National Conference, Athens, Ga.)
  • University of Kentucky (Lexington) Wind Symphony (John Cody Birdwell, conductor) 16 October 2022
  • Appalachian State University (Boone, N.C.) Wind Ensemble (T.J. Anderson, conductor) - 21 April 2022
  • University of South Alabama (Mobile) Wind Ensemble (Jason Rinehart, conductor) - 29 April 2021
  • University of South Florida (Tampa) Wind Ensemble (Michael Lebrias, conductor) - 12 March 2021
  • University of North Florida (Jacksonville) Concert Band (Erin Bodnar, conductor) - 17 November 2020
  • Youngstown (Ohio) State University Wind Ensemble (Brandt Payne, conductor) – 29 January 2020
  • University of North Texas (Denton) Symphonic Band (Andrew Trachsel, conductor) – 21 November 2019
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison Concert Band (Scott Teeple, conductor) – 22 October 2019
  • Ithaca (N.Y.) College Wind Ensemble (Alyssa Comeau, conductor) – 15 October 2019
  • Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge) Wind Ensemble (Damon Talley, conductor) – 29 September 2019
  • University of Georgia (Athens) Hodgson Wind Symphony (Jaclyn Hartenberger, conductor) – 18 September 2019
  • Indiana University (Bloomington) Wind Ensemble (Benjamin Alaniz, conductor) – 18 April 2019
  • University of Prince Edward Island (Charlottetown, PEI) Wind Symphony (Karem J. Simon, conductor) - 31 March 2019
  • University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire Wind Symphony (John R. Stewart, conductor) – 9 March 2019
  • University of Kentucky (Lexington) Wind Ensemble (Kaitlin Bove, conductor) - 5 March 2019
  • University of Rhode Island (Kingston) Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Gene Pollart, conductor) – 4 March 2019
  • Indiana University of Pennsylvania (Indiana, Penn.) Wind Ensemble (Timothy Paul, conductor) – 2 March 2019
  • University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa) Symphonic Band (Randall O. Coleman, conductor) – 26 February 2019
  • Texas Tech University (Lubbock) Symphonic Wind Ensemble (H. Robert Reynolds, conductor) - 22 December 2018 (2018 Midwest Clinic)
  • California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, Wind Orchestra (Christopher J. Woodruff, conductor) – 30 November 2018

Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

All Wind Works


  • Grainger, P.; Rogers, M. (1997). Colonial Song [score]. Southern Music: San Antonio, Texas.
  • Miles, Richard B., and Larry Blocher. (2010). Teaching Music through Performance in Band. Volume 1. Chicago: GIA Publications. pp. 624-632.
  • Nicholson, Chad. (2009). Great Music for Wind Band: A Guide to the Top 100 Works in Grades IV, V, VI. Galesville, MD: Meredith Music Publications. pp 42-43.