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Southern Harmony

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Donald Grantham

Donald Grantham

General Info

Year: 1998 / 2008
Duration: c. 13:20
Difficulty: V (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Piquant Press
Cost: Score and Parts (Rental) - $375.00    |   Score (Purchase) - $55.00


1. The Midnight Cry - 2:05
2. Wondrous Love - 3:40
3. Exhilaration - 1:20
4. The Soldier's Return; Thorny Desert - 5:10


Full Score
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
English Horn
Bassoon 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
Trombone I-II-III-IV
Euphonium (div. a2)
Tuba (2 players)
String Bass
Piano (doubling Celesta)
Percussion I–II-III-IV, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Glockenspiel
  • Gong (Tam-tam)
  • Snare Drums (2)
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Tambourine
  • Triangle
  • Tubular Bells
  • Vibraphone
  • Wind Chimes (metal)
  • Xylophone

Musicians clapping


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

In 1835, William "Singin' Billy" Walker's songbook Southern Harmony was first published. This remarkable collection contains, according to its title page, "a choice collection of tunes, hymns, psalms, odes and anthems; selected from the most eminent authors in the United States." In fact, few of the numbers in the book are identified as the work of a particular composer. Many are folk songs (provided with religious texts), others are traditional sacred tunes, while some are revival songs that were widely known and sung throughout the South. The book was immensely popular, selling an amazing 600,000 copies before the Civil War, and was commonly stocked "along with groceries and tobacco" in general stores across the American frontier. From 1884 until World War II, an annual all-day mass performance of selections from Southern Harmony, called the "Benton Big Singing", was held on the Benton, Kentucky, courthouse lawn. The event drew participants from Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri and Illinois.

The music of Southern Harmony has a somewhat exotic sound to modern audiences. The tunes often use modal or pentatonic rather than major or minor scales. The harmony is even more out of the ordinary, employing chord positions, voice leading and progressions that are far removed from the European music that dominated concert halls at the time. These harmonizations were dismissed as crude and primitive when they first appeared. Now they are regarded as inventive, unique, and powerfully representative of the American character.

In his use of several tunes from Southern Harmony, the composer has attempted to preserve the flavor of the original vocal works in a setting that fully realizes the potential of the wind ensemble and the individual character of each song.

Southern Harmony was commissioned by the Southeastern Conference of Band Directors.

- Program Note by Donald Grantham


  • Winner, 1999 NBA/William D. Revelli Prize.
  • Winner, 1999 ABA/Ostwald Award.

Commercial Discography

State Ratings

  • Alabama: Class AA
  • Florida: V, VI
  • Iowa: VI
  • Louisiana: IV, V
  • Michigan: Senior High School Band Class AA
  • Minnesota: I
  • North Carolina: VI (play any three movements), Masterworks (play all)
  • Oklahoma: V-A
  • Tennessee: VI
  • Texas: V. Complete
  • Virginia: VI


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • West Virginia University (Morgantown) Wind Symphony (Scott C. Tobias, conductor) – 9 March 2020
  • University of California, Los Angeles, (UCLA) Wind Ensemble (Travis J. Cross, conductor) – 5 February 2020
  • Henderson State University (Arkadelphia, Ark.) Wind Ensemble (Shaun R. Popp, conductor) – 7 February 2020
  • Florida All-State Symphonic Band (Tampa) (David Waybright, conductor) – 11 January 2020
  • Henderson State University (Arkadelphia, Ark.) Wind Ensemble (Shaun R. Popp, conductor) – 19 November 2019
  • Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, Md.) Peabody Wind Ensemble (Roger Wu Fu, conductor) – 25 October 2019
  • East Tennessee State University (Johnson City) Wind Ensemble (Christian Zembower, conductor) – 17 October 2019
  • Lone Star Wind Orchestra (Dallas, Tx.) (Eugene Migliaro Corporon, conductor) – 22 September 2019
  • Shenandoah Conservatory Wind Ensemble (Winchester, Va.) (Timothy J. Robblee, conductor) – 21 September 2019
  • Illinois State University (Normal) Wind Symphony (Pamornpan Komolpamorn, conductor) – 27 April 2019
  • Texas Christian University (Fort Worth) Symphonic Band (Brian Youngblood, conductor) – 18 April 2019
  • University of Miami (Coral Gables) Frost Symphonic Winds (Jay Rees, conductor) – 14 April 2019
  • Baldwin-Wallace College (Berea, Ohio) Symphonic Band (Brendan Caldwell, conductor) – 5 April 2019
  • Drexel University (Philadelphia, Penn.) Concert Band Wesley Broadnax, conductor) – 18 March 2019
  • Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge) Wind Ensemble (Kelvin Jones, conductor) – 20 February 2019 (CBDNA 2019 National Conference, Tempe, Ariz.)
  • Southeastern Louisiana University (Hammond) Wind Symphony (Derek Stoughton, conductor) - 7 November 2018
  • Oklahoma State University (Stillwater) Wind Ensemble (Joseph Missal, conductor) – 8 November 2018
  • Arizona State University (Tempe) Wind Ensemble (Jason Caster, conductor) – 7 November 2018
  • North Dakota State University (Fargo) Wind Symphony (Warren Olfert, conductor) – 14 October 2018

Works for Winds by this Composer