Spoon River (arr Bainum)

From Wind Repertory Project
Percy Aldridge Grainger

Percy Aldridge Grainger (arr. Glenn Bainum)

Subtitle: An American Folk Dance

General Info

Year: 1929 / 1967 / 2009
Duration: c. 4:35
Difficulty: IV (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Fiddle
Publisher: G. Schirmer, Inc.
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $85.00   |   Score Only (print) - $12.00


Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
English Horn
Bassoon I-II
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III-IV
E-flat Alto Clarinet
B-flat Bass Clarinet
B-flat Contrabass Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Saxophone
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Cornet I-II-III
B-flat Trumpet I-II
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
String Bass
Piano (optional)
Harp (optional)
Percussion, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Bells I-II
  • Chimes
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Marimba I-II
  • Snare Drum
  • Xylophone I-II


In Score:

  • Percussion, Chimes, m.163, beat 3: A4 and C5 should be changed to F4 and A4

In Parts:

  • Piccolo, m.48, beat 2: Tenuto should be an accent
  • Piccolo, m.64, beat 2: Accent should be a tenuto
  • Piccolo, m.88: Missing rehearsal mark "88"
  • Piccolo, m.120: Missing rehearsal mark "120"
  • Piccolo, m.181, beat 1: Remove accent from whole note
  • Flute I, m.65, beat 2: Remove tenuto from half note
  • Flute I, m.75, and of beat 1: In oboe cue, D5 should be a B4
  • Flute I, m.80-81: Hairpin crescendo should start on beat 1 of m. 80 and last through the and of beat 2 of m. 81
  • Flute I, m.83: Hairpin diminuendo should start on beat 1
  • Flute I, m.85: Hairpin crescendo should start on the "a" of beat 2
  • Trombone I, m.88-92: Should be 4 measures of rest instead of 8
  • Percussion, Bells I, m.43, beat 3: C5 should be a B4
  • Percussion, m.88: Missing a rehearsal mark "88"
  • Percussion, Bells II, m.159, beat 3: G4 and B4 should be changed to E4 and G4

- Potential errata noted by Matthew LeFebvre

Program Notes

A Captain Charles H. Robinson heard a tune called Spoon River played by a rustic fiddler at a country dance at Bradford, Illinois in 1857. When Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology appeared in 1914, Captain Robinson (then nearly 90 years old) was struck by the likeness of the two titles — and he sent the Spoon River tune to Masters, who passed it on to me.

The tune [is] very archaic in character; typically American, yet akin to certain Scottish and English dance-tune types. My setting (begun March 10, 1919; ended February 1, 1929) aims at preserving a pioneer blend of lonesome wistfulness and sturdy persistence. It bears the following dedication: “For Edgar Lee Masters, poet of pioneers.”

- Program Note by composer

Based on an early American fiddle tune, the melody is fully explored and developed in a variety of harmonizations and instrumental colors, and is particularly noteworthy for the extensive use of mallet percussion as well as important parts for piano and harp. This publication brings back the classic 1967 edition arranged for band by Glenn Cliffe Bainum.

- Program Note from publisher

Spoon River Anthology (1915), by Edgar Lee Masters, is a collection of short free-form poems that collectively narrates the epitaphs of the residents of Spoon River, a fictional small town named after the real Spoon River that ran near Masters' home town. The aim of the poems is to demystify the rural, small town American life.

Percy Grainger wrote his piano-centric Spoon River inspired by Spoon River Anthology and based on a preexisting fiddle tune called Spoon River, which has since been adapted for bands.

- Program Note from Wikipedia

Captain Charles H. Robinson heard the American fiddle tune Spoon River at a country dance in Bradford, Illinois, in 1897. When Edgar Lee Masters published his Spoon River Anthology in 1914, Robinson was amazed by the similar titles. He sent the folk tune to Masters, who sent it to Grainger. Grainger composed Spoon River in 1922, first as a piano solo and later utilizing elastic scoring, which allowed it to be played by any combination of instrumentalists from three to full orchestra. A version for band was performed in 1933 by Edwin Franko Goldman, but it was never published and the parts were lost.

This version was created by Glenn Cliffe Bainum in 1967. Throughout the work, the upbeat 16-measure American dance tune is fully explored and developed using varying harmonies, accompanimental textures, and shifting instrumental timbres. The use of harp, piano, and “tuneful percussion” (i.e. chimes, bells, xylophone, marimba) adds melodic and harmonic interest.

- Program Note from University of North Carolina, Greensboro, University Band concert program, 2 October 2018

Grainger wrote,

I first came upon these fascinating instruments in profusion while on a concert tour in Holland in 1913, where I visited the Ethnomusicological Museum in Leyden. I was entranced by the percussion instruments of Indonesia, especially those that used the lower octaves. Hence my lavish use of these warm and mellow instruments in an endeavor to offset the harsher tones of those long-established citizens of the orchestra, the xylophone and glockenspiel.

Grainger pioneered their use, these “tuneful percussions,” not always receiving the credit that is his due.

- Program Note by Frederick Fennell


State Ratings

  • Kansas: IV
  • Michigan: Senior High AA
  • Minnesota: I


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • University of Nebraska (Lincoln) Symphonic Band (Anthony Falcone, conductor) - 11 October 2022
  • Traverse City (Mich.) West Senior High School Wind Ensemble (Chad Mielens, conductor) - 18 May 2022
  • Baylor University (Waco, Tx.) Symphonic Band (Ceon Rumphs, conductor) - 11 October 2021
  • Pittsburg (Kan.) State University Wind Ensemble (Andrew D. Chybowski, conductor) - 19 November 2020
  • State University of New York, Potsdam, Symphonic Band (Brian K. Doyle, conductor) – 21 November 2019
  • University of Texas (Austin) Symphony Band (Joshua Gall, conductor) – 7 December 2018
  • University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire Symphony Band (Kevin Sedatole, conductor) – 16 November 2018
  • University of North Carolina, Greensboro, University Band (Carolina Perez, conductor) – 2 October 2018
  • University of Texas (Austin) Tower Concert Band (Joshua Gall, conductor) – 26 February 2017
  • Capitol Symphonic Winds (West Hartford, Conn.) (Gary Partridge, conductor) – 30 November 2016
  • Plano (Tex.) East High School Symphonic Band – Spring 2015
  • Argyle (Tx.) High School Wind Ensemble (Jerry Junkin, conductor) – 20 December 2007 (2007 Midwest Clinic)

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