Gumsuckers March

From Wind Repertory Project
Percy Aldridge Grainger

Percy Aldridge Grainger (ed. R Mark Rogers)

Subtitle: From In a Nutshell

N.B. There appears to be no universal agreement on whether the word should be written as "Gum-Suckers" or "Gumsuckers".

General Info

Year: 1914 / 1996
Duration: c. 3:50
Difficulty: IV-1/2 (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Southern Music Company
Cost: Score and Parts - $85.00   |   Score - $20.00


Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II-III (III substitutes for E-flat Soprano Clarinet)
Oboe I-II
English Horn
Bassoon I-II
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III-IV
E-flat Alto Clarinet
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Contra-Alto Clarinet (substitute for Contrabassoon)
B-flat Contrabass Clarinet (substitute for Contrabassoon)
B-flat Soprano Saxophone
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II (I substitute for Soprano Saxophone)
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Cornet I-II-III-IV
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
String Bass
Percussion I-II-III-IV-V-VI-VII, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Glockenspiel
  • Marimba
  • Nabimba
  • Snare Drum
  • Staff Bells
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Vibraphone
  • Xylophone


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

A "Gum-Sucker" is an Australian nickname for Australians born in Victoria, the home state of the composer. The eucalyptus trees that abound in Victoria are called "gums", and the young shoots at the bottom of the trunk are called "suckers"; so "gum-sucker" came to mean a young native son of Victoria, just as Ohioans are nicknamed "Buck-eyes". In the march, Grainger used his own Australian Up-Country Tune melody, written by him to typify Australia, which melody he also employed in his Colonial Song for two voices and orchestra, or military band.

- Program Note by Percy Aldridge Grainger

The Gumsuckers March was sketched for wind band in the late 1930s but not finished until the summer of 1942. The first theme was composed by Grainger at Hill Hall, Epping, England, around 1911, and the second theme dates from 1905. The complete march was worked out in the summer of 1914 at Evergood Cottage, Goudhurst, Kent, England, and scored for orchestra late that year in New York. Grainger used what he called "tone-clashfulness" (writing of independent harmonies for various families of instruments, creating moments of dissonance). The lyric theme from this march can also be found in his Colonial Song and Australian Up-Country Tune. The second theme contains motives from The Widow's Party March.

- Program Note by California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, Wind Ensemble concert program, 6 December 2015

For the time of its composition, the piece is notable in its integral use of piano and a wide variety of mallet percussion instruments.

- Program Note from University of North Texas Concert Band concert program, 5 October 2016

“Gum-Suckers” is a somewhat humorous nickname for Australians from the state of Victoria. During the very warm summers, these people would refresh themselves by sucking on the blades from the Eucalyptus trees native to that region. Pianist and writer Joseph Robert Smith wrote the following concerning Grainger and such titles: "The general public is not aware of the sophisticated musicianship of his music, while the celebrated tastemakers are not generally attracted to pieces with such titles as The Gum-Suckers."

This march is the fourth movement from Grainger’s In a Nutshell Suite, a work originally for orchestra that was arranged for band in 1942.

- Program Note from State University of New York, Fredonia, Concert Band concert program, 27 September 2018

‘Gum-Suckers’ is a nickname for Australians from the state of Victoria, sucking refreshing blades from the typical Eucalyptus trees of the region during the warm summers. The pianist and writer Joseph Robert Smith had the following to say about Grainger and such titles: "The general public is not aware of the sophisticated musicianship of his music, while the celebrated tastemakers are not generally attracted to pieces with such titles as “The Gum-Suckers”."

This march is the fourth movement from In a Nutshell Suite, orchestrated for band in 1942 and dedicated to ‘Henry and Abbie Finck, with love’. In our performance, we used the complex and colorful percussion parts from the orchestral version, including, for example, staff bells and some of Grainger’s special Deagan instruments like the steel marimba-phone. We even built our own version of the nabimba. Grainger sometimes played the piano part himself with bands in this march. Even though the piano is not really treated as a virtuoso solo instrument here, it still is a somewhat outstanding item in the scoring.

- Program Note by Bjarte Engeset for the University of Texas Symphony Band concert program, 7 December 2018


State Ratings

  • Minnesota: I


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