Sketches on a Tudor Psalm

From Wind Repertory Project
Fisher Tull

Fisher Tull

General Info

Year: 1971
Duration: 11:15
Difficulty: V (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Boosey & Hawkes
Cost: Score and Parts - $125.00   |   Score Only - $20.50


Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
Bassoon I-II
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
E-flat Alto Clarinet
B-flat Bass Clarinet
B-flat Contrabass Clarinet
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
Percussion, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Glockenspiel
  • Snare Drum
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Tambourine
  • Tam-Tam
  • Tenor Drum
  • Timbales
  • Triangle
  • Tubular Bells
  • Whip
  • Wood Block
  • Xylophone


In Score:

  • E-flat Soprano Clarinet, m.62-64: Add rests
  • B-flat Bass Clarinet, m.300: Add a tenuto mark to beat 3.
  • B-flat Contrabass Clarinet, m.187: Add tenuto marks / m.188, add the fermata, m.300, add a tenuto mark to beat 3
  • Trumpet I-II, m.34-35: Add an eighth note rest on beat 1.
  • Horn I, m.57: The A-natural should be an A-flat on beat 4.
  • Horn III-IV, m.108-109: Add rests to the measures.
  • Trombone I-II-III, m.63: Add rests.
  • Baritone, m.63: Add rests.
  • Tuba, m.63: Add rests
  • Tuba, m.285: Second half note should be C-flat not C-natural.

See also: Topolewski in Resources, below.

Program Notes

Sketches on a Tudor Psalm, composed in 1971, is based on a sixteenth-century setting of the Second Psalm by Thomas Tallis. The original version was in the Phrygian mode with the melody in the tenor voice. A modern adaptation is still used today in Anglican services. Its popularity is evidenced by its employment by Ralph Vaughan Williams for the basis of his Fantasia for String Orchestra in 1910.

The introduction sets the harmonic character by emphasizing the juxtaposition of major and minor triads. The theme is first presented by solo alto saxophone, continued by horns, and followed by a fully harmonized version from the brass. The variations begin to unfold in an Allegro section with a melody in the clarinets which was constructed from the retrograde of the theme. Subsequently, fragments of the theme are selected for rhythmic and melodic transformation. Finally, the opening harmonic sequence returns in highly punctuated rhythms to herald the recapitulation of the theme beginning in the low woodwinds and culminating in a fully scored setting of the climactic measures. A coda continues the development as the music builds to a triumphal close on a major chord.

- Program Note by composer

Fisher Tull's scholarly self-analysis of his Sketches on a Tudor Psalm, composed in 1971, includes commentary on his evolution as a composer and the motivation behind the work. He writes:

"Encouraged by the acceptance of Toccata (the 1970 A.B.A. Ostwald winner), I was motivated to try my hand at another band work in theme-and-variation form similar to Variations on an Advent Hymn. I considered using a number of tunes found in the Episcopal Hymnal, but always seemed to gravitate to Thomas Tallis's setting of the second psalm. My reluctance to finalize this choice was caused by the awareness that Ralph Vaughan Williams had used the same material for his Fantasia for Double String Orchestra (1910), a work with which I was quite familiar. Nonetheless, against the advice of some of my colleagues, I decided to take the plunge."

Tull's beautiful and haunting Sketches introduce the theme with a solo alto saxophone, later punctuated by horns and fully harmonized by the brass. He skillfully develops six motifs built upon major and minor triads using variations of tempo, rhythm and instrumental timbre. The major climax of the piece occurs before the end in a recapitulation of the theme, peaking in intensity. Largamente and scherzando sections conclude the final chord.

- Program Note by Roy Stahle for the Foothill Symphonic Winds concert program, 8 December 2013


State Ratings

  • Florida: V
  • Maryland: VI
  • New York: VI
  • Texas: V


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Pacific Lutheran University (Parkland, Wash.) Wind Ensemble (Ron Gerhardstein, conductor) - 15 October 2023
  • DePaul University (Chicago, Ill.) Wind Symphony (Eric Neidlinger, conductor) - 10 February 2023
  • University of California, Los Angeles, (UCLA) Wind Ensemble (Travis J. Cross, conductor) – 4 November 2022
  • Miami University (Oxford, Ohio) Wind Ensemble (Gary A. Speck, conductor) - 12 October 2022
  • Capital University (Bexley, Ohio) Symphonic Winds (John Climer, conductor) - 2 October 2022
  • Eastman School of Music (Rochester, N.Y.) Wind Orchestra (Luke Camarillo, conductor) - 13 April 2022
  • Northeastern State University (Talhequah, Okla.) Wind Ensemble (Bryan Raya, conductor) - 27 February 2021
  • McClellan College (Waco, Tx.) Concert Band (Jon Conrad, conductor) - 5 March 2020
  • University of Illinois (Champaign) Wind Orchestra (Beth Peterson, conductor) – 28 February 2020
  • Oklahoma City (Okla.) University Wind Philharmonic (Matthew Mailman, conductor) – 27 February 2020
  • University of Florida (Gainesville) Wind Symphony (David A. Waybright, conductor) – 20 February 2020
  • University of Cincinnati (Ohio) College-Conservatory of Music Wind Ensemble (Thomas Gamboa, conductor) – 20 November 2019
  • Northwestern University (Evanston, Ill.) Symphonic Band (Shawn Vondran, conductor) – 25 October 2019
  • Lawrence University (Appleton, Wisc.) Symphonic Band (Matthew Arau, conductor) – 19 October 2019
  • University of Manitoba (Winnipeg) Wind Ensemble (Jan Michael Bourgeois, conductor) – 18 October 2019
  • Ithaca (N.Y.) College Concert Band (Benjamin Rochford, conductor) – 14 October 2019
  • Treasure Coast Wind Ensemble (Vero Beach, Fla.) (Colbert Page Howell, conductor) – 7 June 2019
  • Quad City Wind Ensemble (Davenport, Iowa) (Brian Hughes, conductor) – 11 May 2019
  • Virginia Tech (Blacksburg) Symphony Band (Polly Middleton, conductor) – 5 May 2019
  • Cleveland State University (Ohio) Wind Ensemble (Birch Browning, conductor) – 11 April 2019
  • Ouachita Baptist University (Arkadelphia, Ark.) Wind Ensemble (Craig V. Hamilton, conductor) – 4 March 2019

Works for Winds by This Composer