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Old American Country Set

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Henry Cowell

Henry Cowell (arr. James Worman)

General Info

Year: 1939 / 1951 / 1999
Duration: c. 15:05
Difficulty: IV (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Orchestra
Publisher: G. Schirmer
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $80.00   |   Score Only (print) - $7.50


1. Blarneying Lilt - 2:00
2. Meeting House - 2:20
3. Comallye - 2:40
4. Charivari - 4:25
5. Cornhuskin’ Hornpipe - 2:05


Full Score
C Piccolo/Flute III
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
Bassoon 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 Cornet I-II-III
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
Percussion, including:

  • Bells
  • Marimba
  • Percussion I-II
  • Vibraphone
  • Xylophone


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Old American Country Set, composed in the late 1930s, can be considered a simplified companion to the more intricate Lincolnshire Posy, composed during the same period by Cowell’s good friend Percy Aldridge Grainger. The composer’s own words from 1937 offer the best description of the piece and its five original movements:

My Old American Country Set was written in nostalgic memory of the period during my childhood spent with relatives in western Kansas, Oklahoma, and southern Iowa. The tunes are all my own, but they are in the manner of the music heard at that time.

Blarneying Lilt -- My cousin fiddled for the dance, and when he started a reel and then changed the tune unexpectedly, he called it “blarneying.”

Meeting House -- On Sunday at the meeting house, chorale-like hymns were often sung.

Comallye -- A “comallye” (“come all ye good people and hear what I say,” or something of that sort) is a form which usually is in ¾ meter, starting with three eighth-notes before the bar line, but the comallyes heard in the Mid-West followed their own pattern.

Charivari -- The “charivari” (pronounced “shivaree” in Kansas) is usually an improvised din by a group of merry noise-makers outside the home of newlyweds on their wedding night, but when my fiddling cousin was married, the crowd outside his house that evening played and sang a slow, rather lugubrious [exaggeratedly mournful] melody.

Cornhuskin’ Hornpipe -- It was with another cousin that I went corn husking in Iowa and found that the secret of his astonishing rapidity was that he sang himself a rapid horn piper rhythm tune as he husked, keeping his work to the first pulse.

- Program Note by arranger

Commercial Discography


State Ratings

  • Virginia: V
  • Virginia: VI


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Kennesaw (Ga.) State University University Band (Joseph Scheivert, conductor) - 1 March 2021

Works for Winds by This Composer


  • Cowell, H.; Worman, J. (1999). Old American Country Set [score]. Associated Music Publishers: New York.