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Tune in a Popular London Style

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Percy Aldridge Grainger

Percy Aldridge Grainger (trans. R Mark Rogers)

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Subtitle: Movement Nr. 2 from the Suite “In a Nutshell”
This work is also known as Gay But Wistful

General Info

Year: 1916 / 2005
Duration: c. 3:30
Difficulty: III (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Orchestra
Publisher: Keiser Southern Music, through Hal Leonard
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $95.00   |   Score Only (print) - $14.00


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None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

In a Nutshell. Why did we pick that title? The colloquial phrase means “in a few words, or in a very brief form”, and, when the phrase first entered the English language, referred to “anything that had been compressed, later being applied to written or spoken words.’’

Percy Grainger’s suite In a Nutshell is a four-movement suite first performed and published in 1916 that contains many of the elements of Percy Grainger’s compositional style, all compressed into a 20-minute work (hence, “In a Nutshell”). The piece, identified as “For Orchestra, Piano and Deagan Percussion Instruments” serves as a laboratory for a whole set of Grainger experiments in composition, in orchestration, and in the juxtaposition of jarringly different musical styles. The “Deagan Percussion Instruments” dedication grows out of Grainger’s close friendship and professional association with the Deagan family of Chicago, inventors and manufacturers of a vast array of mallet played percussion instruments -- what Grainger would come to call the “tuneful percussion.”

One of the unusual instruments used in In a Nutshell are the “staff bells”, designed by Grainger and executed by Deagan. It is a rack of up to four octaves of handbells removed from their handles, hung in a keyboard style configuration, and played with mallets. Deagan even attached small resonators like those used on a xylophone to amplify the sound of the instrument.

Percy Aldridge Grainger's Tune in a London Popular Style, also titled Gay But Wistful, is the second movement from his orchestral suite In a Nutshell. Curiously, none of the tunes in the suite is a folk-song or popular tune. Rather, they are Grainger himself described this movement as: An attempt to write an air with a "music hall" flavor embodying the London blend of gaiety with the wistfulness so familiar in the performances of George Grossmith Jr., and other vaudeville artists. The Gay But Wistful tune consists of two recognizable strains, like the "solo and chorus of musical-hall ditties".

- Program Note adapted from Aux Arcs Music


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


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Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

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  • Grainger, P.; Rogers, R. (2005). Tune in a popular London style : movement Nr. 2 from the Suite "In a Nutshell" For Symphony Orchestra [score]. Southern Music Co.; San Antonio, Tx.