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Spoon River (arr Carson)

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Percy Aldridge Grainger

Percy Aldridge Grainger (ed. Carson and Naylor)

Subtitle: An American Folk-Dance Set for Military Band

General Info

Year: 1922 / 2010
Duration: c. 4:20
Difficulty: IV (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Fiddle
Publisher: Southern Music Co.
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $150.00   |   Score Only (print) - $14.95


Full Score
Flute I-II (II doubling Piccolo)
Oboe I-II
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
B-flat Contrabass Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Saxophone
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Bass Saxophone
B-flat Cornet I-II
B-flat Trumpet I-II
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II
Bass Trombone
Euphonium I-II
String Bass (or Contrabassoon)
Percussion I-II-III, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Bells
  • Chimes
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Marimba
  • Snare Drum
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Vibraphone
  • Xylophone


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

This American folk-dance set for concert band is based on the tune Spoon River, which a Captain Charles H. Robinson heard in 1857 being played by a rustic fiddler at a country dance in Brandford, Illinois. Passed to Grainger through poet Edgar Lee Masters in 1914, it is a very archaic tune in character: typically American, yet akin to certain Scottish and English dance-tune types. Grainger aims in his original setting at preserving a pioneer blend of lonesome wistfulness and sturdy persistence. This edition for band seeks to maintain the Grainger sound, while offering bands instrument substitutions for those that have become less common and making small additions such as clearer dynamics.

- 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.

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


State Ratings

  • Florida: V
  • Kansas: V
  • Texas: IV. Complete


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Austin (Tx.) Symphonic Band (Cliff Croomes, conductor) - 14 February 2023
  • San Luis Obispo (Calif.) Wind Orchestra (Jennifer Martin, conductor) – 8 May 2022
  • Brigham Young University (Provo, Utah) Symphonic Band (L. Nathan Seamons, conductor) - 31 March 2022
  • Ouachita Baptist University (Arkadelphia, Ark.) Wind Ensemble (Jim Lloyd, conductor) - 16 March 2021
  • Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland, Ohio) Symphonic Winds (Ryan Scherber, conductor) – 26 January 2020
  • University of North Texas (Denton) Symphonic Band (Andrew Trachsel, conductor) – 21 November 2019
  • Henderson State University (Arkadelphia, Ark.) Wind Ensemble (Shaun Popp, conductor) – 6 October 2019
  • Indiana University (Bloomington) Concert Band (Jason H. Nam, conductor) – 12 February 2019
  • University of Colorado Boulder Symphonic Band (Matthew Roeder, conductor) – 23 February 2018
  • Texas State University (Texas) (Matthew Holzner, conductor) - spring 2015
  • Trinity University (Texas)(James Worman, conductor) - spring 2015
  • Bothell High School Wind Ensemble (Philip Dean, conductor) - 16 February 2013 (National Association for Music Education Northwest Division, Portland, Ore.)
  • Ohio University Wind Symphony (Andrew Trachsel, conductor) - 23 February 2012 (College Band Directors National Association North Central Region Conference, Mt. Pleasant, Mich.)
  • Northern State University (Aberdeen, S.D.) (Boyd Perkins, conductor) - spring 2012
  • Lakota West High School (West Chester, Ohio) Symphonic Winds (Barry E. Kopetz, conductor) – 16 December 2011 (2011 Midwest Clinic)

Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

All Wind Works


  • Carson, William S. "Spoon River." In Teaching Music through Performance in Band. Volume 12, Compiled and edited by Andrew Trachsel, 655-671. Chicago: GIA Publications, 2021.
  • Grainger, P.; Carson, W.; Naylor, A. (2010). Spoon River : An American Folk-Dance Set for Military Band [score]. Southern Music Co.: San Antonio, Tx.
  • Spoon River Anthology, Wikipedia Accessed 24 November 2016