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Variants on an English Sea Song

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Zachary Docter

Zachary Docter

Subtitle: Spanish Ladies

General Info

Year: 2018
Duration: c. 6:40
Difficulty: IV (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Folk Song
Publisher: Alfred Music
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $85.00   |   Score Only (print) - $11.00


Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III
Horn in F I-II
Trombone I-II-III
Percussion I–II-III, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Bells
  • Chimes
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Snare Drum
  • Tambourine
  • Triangle


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

This robust set of variations is based on the rollicking old English sea song Spanish Ladies. The colorful music has a decidedly English folk song sound throughout that is unmistakable. Fans of the classic band music of Vaughan Williams and Grainger will certainly enjoy this piece!

- Program Note by publisher

Zachary Docter discovered the British Navy song that serves as the theme for his set of variations while watching the movie Jaws. There is a scene where the actor Robert Shaw, questioning the safety of using a shark cage against a great white, bids “farewell and adieu” to Richard Dreyfuss by singing a verse of Spanish Ladies. Quoting the composer: “I always thought the tune would sound good harmonized in a band piece.” Docter is a graduate student studying music composition at California State University, Northridge. With several compositions for brass band in publication, this set of variations on Spanish Ladies is the composer’s first published work for concert band.

A dramatic introduction leads to the presentation of the tune in E-flat minor. Three variations, a spirited dance in 6/8, a lyrical setting in E-flat major, and a majestic presentation showcasing the entire ensemble, bring the listener to an exciting conclusion. This creative piece is well-suited for connecting musicians and audiences to the sailing song traditions of the 17th and 18th centuries.

- Program Note from VanderCook College of Music Symphonic Band concert program, 21 December 2018

Commercial Discography

None discovered thus far.


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


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Works for Winds by this Composer


  • Perusal score
  • "New Music Reviews." The Instrumentalist. August 2018, 24.