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Three Tragic Ballads


Genre: Band
# of Players: Standard
Level: 4-5 | Duration: 11:00
Publisher: Aux Arcs Music | Copyright: 2016

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Notes & Instrumentation
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  • Notes & Instrumentation

    Three Tragic Ballads is a Grade 6, well-suited for the accomplished collegiate wind band. The Three Tragic Ballads – “Danny Deever,” “The Three Ravens,” and “Father and Daughter” – can be played as a set or individually.

    Genre: Band | # of Players: Standard
    Level: 4-5 | Duration: 11:00

    Flute 1/2 (4)
    Oboe 1/2 (2)
    English Horn (1)
    Bassoon 1/2 (2)
    Contrabassoon (1)
    B-flat Clarinet 1 (3)
    B-flat Clarinet 2/3 (3)
    B-flat Bass Clarinet (2)
    E-flat Contra-Alto Clarinet (1)
    B-flat Soprano Saxophone (1)
    E-flat Alto Saxophone 1/2 (2)
    B-flat Tenor Saxophone (1)
    E-flat Baritone Saxophone (1)
    B-flat Bass Saxophone (1)

    B-flat Trumpet 1 (2)
    B-flat Trumpet 2/3 (4)
    F Horn 1/2 (2)
    F Horn 3/4 (2)
    Trombone 1/2 (2)
    Trombone 3 (1)
    Euphonium (2)
    T.C. Baritone (1)
    Tuba (3)
    Double Bass Fiddle (1)

    Timpani/Orchestra Bells (1)
    Snare Drum/Crotales/Xylophone (1)
    Bass Drum/Chimes (1)
    Vibes/Suspended Cymbal (1)
    Marimba 1 (4.3) top (1)
    Marimba 2 (5.0) top (1)
    Marimba 1 bottom/Suspended Cymbal (1)
    Marimba 2 bottom (1)
    Piano (1)

    Program Notes
    Percy Grainger (1882-1961) was puzzled at being labeled a composer of "genial and jolly light works." Knowing that he considered his work "a pilgrimage to sorrow" inspired me to arrange a group of his "tragic ballads" for modern concert band. As per Grainger's claim, the subjects of Three Tragic Ballads include a hanging ("Danny Deever"); a knight mouldering in a ditch ("The Three Ravens"); and murder ("Father and Daughter").

    Danny Deever started life as a poem from the “Barracks Room Ballads” of Rudyard Kipling, a major cultural hero of Percy Grainger’s. Grainger scored the piece for small male unison chorus, large male choir, and a large orchestra including saxophones and euphonium. The song tells the story of Danny Deever, a British soldier in foreign service hung for a minor offense. Grainger’s setting captures beautifully the contrasting moods of boisterousness, horror and “whistling past the graveyard” so common in a soldier’s experience.

    The Three Ravens is Nr. 41 of the British Folk-Music Settings. It is “lovingly and reverently dedicated to the memory of Edvard Grieg”, as are all the BFMS works. The piece is originally scored for Baritone Solo and Mixed Chorus accompanied by 5 Bb Clarinets. The folksong The Three Ravens was not collected by Grainger; like Irish Tune from County Derry he found the tune in an existing collection. The harmonization, finished in 1902, captures beautifully the transcendental nature of the text, with masterful use of chromaticism and the Grainger “gliding tones.”

    Father and Daughter Nr. 1 of the Settings of Dance-Folksongs from the Faeroe Islands. “Composed in 1908-9, it is scored in the original for five solo voices, described as ‘narrators’ because they tell the tale, with a double mixed chorus actively representing the ‘tribe’, and with three orchestral groups of brass, strings, and mixed mandolins and guitars (as many as possible).” (Wilfred Mellers in Percy Grainger). One of Percy’s most exciting pieces, John Bird tells us that, at the premiere performance of Father and Daughter at the Queen’s Hall in 1912, Grainger received twelve curtain-calls, and the piece had to be repeated twice!

    The individual pieces may be purchased separately as well:

    Danny Deever (AAM-001)
    The Three Ravens (AAM-002)
    Father and Daughter (AAM-003)

  • Video

    • Percy Grainger, Danny Deever

      Available through C. Alan Publications. Percy Grainger's "Danny Deever", arranged for Wind Band by Chalon Ragsdale. Movement 1 of "Three Tragic Ballads". Music available from Aux Arcs Music
    • Percy Grainger's "The Three Ravens" arr. for Wind Band by Chalon Ragsdale

      Available through C. Alan Publications. Percy Grainger's choral work "The Three Ravens", arranged for Wind Band by Chalon Ragsdale. A beautiful, haunting work listed at Grade 4 on the Texas UIL Prescribed Music List. Published by Aux Arcs Music Publishing Co., LLC. Distributed by C. Alan Publications
    • Percy Grainger's "Father and Daughter," arr. Chalon Ragsdale

      Available through C. Alan Publications. Percy Grainger's "Father and Daughter", arranged for Wind Band and mallet ensemble by Chalon Ragsdale. Final movement of "Three Tragic Ballads." Music available from Aux Arcs ("Ozarks") Music.
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