Deep River (flex)

From Wind Repertory Project
H. T. Burleigh
Steve Danyew

Traditional, arr. Harry Thacker Burleigh; adapt. Steve Danyew

The work is part of the suite Three Spirituals, arranged by Burleigh and adapted by Danyew.

General Info

Year: 1917 / 2020
Duration: c. 3:00
Difficulty: IV (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Piano and voice
Publisher: Steve Danyew
Cost: Score and Parts (digital) - $29.00

Instrumentation (Flexible)

Full Score
C Treble Part

  • Piccolo
  • Flute
  • Oboe
  • Mallet percussion
  • Violin

C Bass Part

  • Bassoon
  • Trombone
  • Euphonium
  • Tuba
  • Bass
  • Cello

C Alto Clef Part

  • Viola

B-flat Treble Clef Part

  • B-flat Soprano Clarinet
  • B-flat Bass Clarinet
  • B-flat Soprano Saxophone
  • B-flat Tenor Saxophone
  • B-flat Trumpet

E-flat Treble Clef Part

  • E-flat Alto Saxophone
  • E-flat Baritone Saxophone

F Treble Clef Part

  • Horn in F
  • English Horn


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Deep River is an anonymous spiritual of African-American origin. The song was first mentioned in print in 1876, when it was published in the first edition of The Story of the Jubilee Singers: With Their Songs, by J. B. T. Marsh (page 230). By 1917, when Harry Burleigh completed the last of his several influential arrangements, the song had become very popular in recitals. It has been called "perhaps the best known and best-loved spiritual".

Deep river,
My home is over Jordan.
Deep river, Lord,

I want to cross over into campground.

- Program Note from Wikipedia

Harry Thacker Burleigh (1866-1949) was a vocalist and composer who among many other things, created stirring arrangements of African-American spirituals. Three of the spirituals he arranged are included in this collection.

Burleigh’s spiritual arrangements are scored for voice and piano. I adapted these arrangements for eight-part flexible instrumentation. I tried to retain as much of Burleigh’s harmony as possible, as the harmonic choices he made throughout the arrangements are truly rich and captivating. I did alter some of his harmonies and rhythms and added a few new sections, but I tried to be as faithful to Burleigh’s arrangements as possible

- Program Note by adapter

Performance Notes

I recommend playing each line in the register notated in the conductor score. (You’ll notice that the parts for players have certain lines displaced by 1 or 2 octaves to fit within that part’s clef). In other words, bass-clef lines should be played by bass-clef instruments. I understand there may be cases where you need to play a line up or down an octave, and that’s fine. Obviously, if you have only cellos or only clarinets and trumpets, you will need to deviate from the recommendations provided. The instrumentation lists will be particularly useful if you have a group of instruments spanning a wide range (bass to treble).

Specific percussion parts are not included. However, percussionists could play any of the parts on mallet instruments.

I included a sample written solo that can be played in place of an improvised solo. I find the F major pentatonic scale (F, G, A, C, D) works well in this setting.


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Rowan University (Glassboro, N.J.) Symphonic Band (Joseph Higgins, conductor) - 4 March 2021

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