Snake Oil Peddler, The

From Wind Repertory Project
Rachael Coleman

Rachael Coleman

Subtitle: A Ragtime Fantasy for Band

General Info

Year: 2010
Duration: c. 14:00
Difficulty: V (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Maecenas Music
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - £73.00   |   Score Only (print) - £22.25


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

  • Bass Drum, large
  • Cabasa
  • Chinese Opera Gong
  • Cowbell, large
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Egg Shaker
  • Guiro
  • Maracas
  • Ratchet
  • Rute
  • Slide Whistle
  • Tambourine
  • Tam-Tam
  • Temple Blocks (5)
  • Trap Set
  • Triangle, large
  • Vibra-slap
  • Washboard
  • Water Gong
  • Wood Block, small


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Medicine shows traveled around small-town America though the 1800s and even into the early 1900s. These were often elaborate affairs with several different musical acts, perhaps a juggler or magician or comedian, and culminating in the presentation of a miracle elixir -- for sale for a limited time only! -- said to cure everything from baldness to death of less than two weeks. The entertainments were masterpieces of marketing psychology, preying on the fears and ignorance of the uneducated crowds to peddle what was usually nothing more than flavored and tinted alcohol. Often a shill would be planted in the crowd to testify to the miraculous efficaciousness of these tonics, which came to be known as ‘snake oil’.

It has seemed to me that all too often our politicians hark back to this dark version of the American Dream: selling the fraudulent to the ignorant. It was while claims of hidden weapons of mass destruction were being sold to the American public and the world at large that I was first inspired to write 'The Snake Oil Peddler. The piece begins with an utterly banal theme -- a depiction of the road-weary caravan trudging slowly into town. As the crowds gather, the medicine show gets under way. The theme undergoes constant and eventually tortuous transformations, building to a fever pitch of excitement as the snake oil peddler weaves his malignant spell.

The Snake Oil Peddler is dedicated to Timothy Reynish, whose support of my work has been invaluable.

- Program Note by composer


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

Works for Winds by This Composer


  • Coleman, C. (2010). The Snake Oil Peddler : A Ragtime Fantasy for Band [score]. Maecenas Music: Godstone, Surrey, UK.
  • The Horizon Leans Forward…, compiled and edited by Erik Kar Jun Leung, GIA Publications, 2021, p. 297.
  • Perusal score
  • Rachael Coleman website Accessed 10 January 2021