Click to enlargeThe Stars and Stripes Forever (brass quintet)

What is there left to say about this march? This, the official march of the United States of America, perhaps the most recognizable march ever written, considered the penultimate march written by the very March King himself, is a tour de force of epic proportions. That it is played by every band in the USA and a great many bands everywhere else does not diminish it in the least. Other pieces would become trite with so much exposure, but for over 100 years, this march has closed more band concerts than any other, and audiences still love it.

This arrangement stays as true to Sousa's score as possible. It is impossible, however, to cover all that a listener expects to hear with only five pieces and not re-engineer a few things.

The horn player will be overjoyed to learn that the "peck horn" part has undergone a significant upgrade with a section of solo melody and another of support melody. The trombone takes up of some of the slack during sections it would normally rest, and the trumpeters find that the second player has been promoted to first for most of the piece, while the first player fills in for the nonexistent woodwinds. Only the tuba part remains largely unchanged from the original Sousa score.

For tuba, trombone, or horn, this piece is not much more challenging than the original. For the trumpets there is a decent uptick in difficulty, especially for the first trumpet, which hangs in the very high register for long stretches.

But what quintet could resist giving this a try, and once perfected, could then resist using this as a closer or an encore?

Two dogfights and a stinger at the end!

MP3 sound sample: entire piece (synthesizer/midi).



THE STARS AND STRIPES FOREVER, by John Philip Sousa, arranged by Tom Kirkland for brass quintet consisting of two trumpets, F horn, trombone, and tuba, comes in a pdf file of 1223K, with a thirteen-page score, five three-page parts, and a license page, twenty-nine pages in all. Performance time should be about 4:45.


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Last update: 27 September 2017