Genre: Percussion Ensemble | # of Players: 9-10
Level: 2.5 | Duration: 3:00
Marimba 1 (4.3 oct., 2 players)
Marimba 2 (5.0 oct., 2 players)
String Bass (opt.)
Note: Marimba parts may be doubled at will.
Percy Grainger was a multi-faceted artist. He was one of the great pianists of the first half of the twentieth century; the most important English folk song collector of his time; one of the greatest “setters” of folk song of any time; a musical innovator on par with Charles Ives, Igor Stravinsky, or John Cage; an important thinker in the area of music education; a promoter of the wind band, contemporary music, and “pre-Bach” music; and a brilliant and innovative orchestrator.
His genius in orchestration is perhaps best experienced in his large orchestra works, The Warriors being a brilliant example, or his “large room music,” Scotch Strathspey and Reel, for instance. But equally stunning was his genius in recognizing the potential of the percussion mallet-played keyboard instruments - what he called “tuneful percussion.”
“I first came upon these fascinating instruments in profusion while on a concert tour in Holland in 1913 where I visited the Ethnomusicological Museum in Leyden. I was entranced by the percussion instruments of Indonesia, especially those that used the lower octaves. Hence my lavish use of these warm and mellow instruments in an endeavor to offset the harsher tones of those long established citizens of the orchestra, the xylophone and glockenspiel.”
Grainger was friends with the great American instrument builders, the Deagan family of Chicago (as his mother Rose once said “both the people and the instruments”), and began including complete families of metal and wooden mallet instruments in his compositions, usually scored in combination with piano, celesta, other keyboard instruments (the harmonium and dulcitone being particular favorites) and harp. He developed literature for large ensembles of this type, most notably in his scoring of Claude Debussy’s Pagodes, and it is with this knowledge that we are confident Percy Grainger would approve of the concept of an arrangement of Ye Banks and Braes O’ Bonnie Doon for large percussion ensemble. Given that his band arrangement of Ye Banks and Braes was partly written as an experiment in “elastic scoring”, and designed so that discrete choirs of flute and double reeds, clarinet choir, saxophone choir, or brasses within the band arrangement can perform it independently, it would seem that providing the same opportunity for Grainger’s beloved “tuneful percussion” would be a natural extension of that philosophy.
At the turn of the 20th century, Percy Grainger was still setting folk songs from existing sources; his first contact with actual folksingers was still some four years away. In 1901, he made choral settings of Ye Banks and Braes O’ Bonnie Doon, and The Three Ravens, and in 1902 Irish Tune from County Derry. In characteristic Grainger fashion, he later re-arranged Ye Banks and Braes for school orchestra in 1922; and in 1932 for wind band, for “elastic scoring” (3 instruments to full orchestra, including some 30 different options), and for piano 4 or 6 hands. The traditional song is to a text by the legendary Scottish poet and cultural hero Robert Burns. The tune was originally called The Caledonian Hunt’s Delight; Burns fashioned his lyrics to fit the tune.