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Southern Harmony

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Donald Grantham

Donald Grantham


General Info

Year: 1998
Duration: c. 14:00
Difficulty: V (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Piquant Press
Cost: Score and Parts (Rental) - $300.00    |   Score (Purchase) - $55.00


Movements

1. The Midnight Cry - 2:07
2. Exhilaration - 1:25
3. Wondrous Love - 3:36
4. The Soldier's Return; Thorny Desert - 5:21


Instrumentation

Full Score
Piccolo
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
English Horn
Bassoon I-II
Contrabassoon
Eb Soprano Clarinet
Bb Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
Bb Bass Clarinet
Bb Contrabass Clarinet
Soprano Saxophone
Alto Saxophone
Tenor Saxophone
Baritone Saxophone
Trumpet (in Bb) I-II-III-IV
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III-IV
Euphonium (2 players)
Tuba (2 players)
String Bass
Piano (doubles Celesta)
Timpani
Percussion I–II-III-IV, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Cymbal (crash and suspended)
  • Glockenspiel
  • Gong (Tam-tam)
  • Snare Drum (2)
  • Tambourine
  • Triangle
  • Tubular Bells
  • Vibraphone
  • Wind Chimes (metal)
  • Xylophone


Errata

None discovered thus far.


Program Notes

In 1835, William "Singin' Billy" Walker's songbook Southern Harmony was first published. This remarkable collection contains, according to its title page, "a choice collection of tunes, hymns, psalms, odes and anthems; selected from the most eminent authors in the United States." In fact, few of the numbers in the book are identified as the work of a particular composer. Many are folksongs (provided with religious texts), others are traditional sacred tunes, while some are revival songs that were widely known and sung throughout the south. The book was immensely popular, selling an amazing 600,000 copies before the Civil War, and was commonly stocked "along with groceries and tobacco" in general stores across the American frontier. From 1884 until World War II, an annual all-day mass performance of selections from Southern Harmony, called the "Benton Big Singing", was held on the Benton, Kentucky court-house lawn. The event drew participants from Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri and Illinois.

The music of Southern Harmony has a somewhat exotic sound to modern audiences. The tunes often use modal or pentatonic rather than major or minor scales. The harmony is even more out of the ordinary, employing chord positions, voice leading and progressions that are far removed from the European music that dominated concert halls at the time. These harmonizations were dismissed as crude and primitive when they first appeared. Now they are regarded as inventive, unique, and powerfully representative of the American character.

In his use of several tunes from Southern Harmony, the composer has attempted to preserve the flavor of the original vocal works in a setting that fully realizes the potential of the wind ensemble and the individual character of each song.

Southern Harmony was commissioned by the Southeastern Conference of Band Directors.

Program Note by Donald Grantham


Winner, 1999 NBA/William D. Revelli Prize. Winner, 1999 ABA/Ostwald Award.


Commercial Discography


State Ratings

  • Alabama: Class AA
  • Florida: V, VI
  • Iowa: VI
  • Louisiana: IV, V
  • North Carolina: VI; Masterworks
  • Oklahoma: V-A
  • Texas: V. Complete
  • Virginia: IV


Recent Performances

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Works for Winds by this Composer


Additional Resources