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The Star-Spangled Banner (MBE Version) (brass quintet)

In July, 2010 a call came from one of the members of The Morning Brass Ensemble of Kaneland Harter Middle School, Sugar Grove, Illinois, USA, a 12-year-old young man who serves as their business manager, asking if they could commission a version of the Star-Spangled Banner that they could play outdoors at a semi-professional football game.

This seemed like a great idea. Since the version we already have here is for a brass quintet wtih slightly different voicing, owing to the particular difficulty young players face when playing outdoors, and the simple fact that their "quintet" actually consists of two first trumpets, a second trumpet, one french horn, a trombone, and three tubas, some rearranging of what we already had seemed necessary.

First, simply translating the first trombone part to french horn was not going to generate near enough sound volume to carry the melody against a trombone and three tubas in the opening phrases. Some of the passages were more complex than they needed to be. The first trumpets needed to carry the melody throughout, which necessitated a complete rewrite of the fanfares over the rockets red glare and bombs bursting in air. In short, there were going to be a lot of differences from the "original" version.

This version is still in A-flat to maintain singability, which also matches up well with young players' key familiarity, and the overall effect is stronger and has more impact than the other. The ending was also simplified, as it is expected that an crowd would respond to a middle school brass ensemble a bit more vigorously than a more experienced group, so much of the flourish at the end of the other version would be covered by applause anyway. When a lot of crowd noise is going on and you are trying to finish a piece together, especially outdoors, simpler is better. The introduction was marked "optional" in case event promoters wanted the shortest possible version.

So all of this got put into a pot and mixed with the original version and we ended up with a version created specifically for this group.

The music proudly bears the words, "Commissioned by and dedicated to The Morning Brass Ensemble of Kaneland Harter Middle School, Sugar Grove IL USA."

Compare the other brass quintet version.

MP3 sound sample: Entire Piece (synthesizer/midi).



THE STAR-SPANGLED BANNER by Key and Smith arranged by Tom Kirkland for brass quintet consisting of two trumpets, french horn, trombone, and tuba, comes in a pdf file of 305K, with a three-page score, five one-page parts, and a license page, nine pages in all. Performance time should be about 1:20 to 1:30.


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Last update: 5 June 2017