Old Modern Musick


Grade 3

For concert band

Score Sample

SKU: Old Modern Musick Categories: ,



for concert band

Commissioned by the Stoughton High School Symphonic Band, Stoughton, MA, John Mange, Director

duration: 5′

piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes,2 bassoons, 3 Bb clarinets, bass clarinet, contrabass clarinet, saxophones: 2 altos, tenor, baritone
3 Bb trumpets, 2 french horns, 2 trombones, bass trombone, euphonium, tuba timpani, double bass
percussion (ideally 9 players):
mallets 1: glockenspiel, tamtam, splash cymbal (shared), sus. cymbal (shared) mallets 2&3:
player 1: marimba, sus. cymbal (shared), cymb a2 (shared)
player 2: marimba, cymb a2 (shared), triangle
mallets 4: chimes, vibes, wood block, spalsh cymb (shared), triangle percussion 5:snare drum (section)
percussion 6/7/8: snare/side drums (see **NOTE below) percussion 9: bass drum

The music:

In researching the area of Stoughton, MA, and its important aspects, I was directed to the fact that Stoughton
houses the longest standing musical society in the country. It is called, appropriately, the Old Stoughton Musical Society. As it is always my intention to write music that is directly related to the people/institutions for whom it is being written, I was particularly drawn to this society, and furthermore, to the history of it.
It was formed in 1786, making it, of course, almost as old as our very country.
What struck me at first was the reason for its existence. It seemed that prior to its formation, the music of the area
had completely gone awry in terms of study, and in terms of the level of performance. That in the previous (17th/18th) centuries, the performances of music had become so knowingly bad, (most obviously due to a lack of formalized teaching) that it had almost become a point of pride to sing music loudly, and badly.
The Old Stoughton Musical Society set out to right this wrong, with bylaws, meetings, performances, and composers. One of these such composers was William Billings.
In looking through his music, I came upon a rather humorous little ditty, entitled “Modern Musick”. It is a choral work that almost employs as much wordplay and musical “puns” as I myself have been know to write on occasion. To be honest, I was a little stunned by such a thing having been written back in 1790.
I couldn’t AVOID doing something with it!

Therefore, many of the tunes woven through my “Old Modern Musick” are derived from that of Mister Billings. The overall tone is that of celebration – because we are celebrating Stoughton: its music, its people, its heritage.

Lastly – to hearken back to the time in which this was written, I decided to employ three marching side (snare) drums.

**NOTE: these are to be placed front center (player 1), stage left (2), and stage right (3). The latter two should only walk onstage just before their respective parts are to be performed. Player 1 should be seated in front of the conductor, only to walk out in front-center when his/her part is to be played.

I would like to thank John Mange, director of bands, and the Stoughton public schools for choosing me to write this piece, which offered me a chance to get to know a part of our country’s history a bit better, and specifically, that of Stoughton’s.

Jim Stephenson; June 28, 2018

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