Featured Content: Arabian Dances by Roland Barrett

Featured Content: Arabian Dances by Roland Barrett

If you grew up with Star Trek, you may wonder when technology is going to catch up and provide us with a working transporter. The good news is that music has always had this ability.

Even if you are practicing in the middle of a frigid, sun-less, North Dakota winter, and students have tracked slush onto your band room floor from their snowy boots, the blistering heat of the Arabian Desert is just a few measures away.

Roland Barrett’s Arabian Dances is an easy concert band piece that can transport you, your students, and your audiences far around the world. Hear the reference recording and preview the score in the video below:

Arabian Dances Program Notes

After a long day’s journey, the nomads set up camp for the evening. As the sun casts its final searing rays on the desert landscape, a campfire roars to life and the celebration begins. As the sky darkens, the festivities grow wilder and wilder until eventually, three groups of revelers take turns dancing at the edge of the fire, each trying to outdo the other. Finally, the entire tribe joins, dancing wildly for hours until the campfire dims and morning grows near.

Conductor Notes from Roland Barrett

The opening measures (1-14) set the stage in a dramatic way and should be played in a very expressive, rubato style. The clarinet soloist (who “calls” the dancers to the fire) should be encouraged to play very freely, and may even take some liberties with the tempo.

In measure 15, the four quarter notes should be very, very short. In fact, they may be treated as four eighth notes, each followed by an eighth rest. A similar treatment should be applied to measures 27, 43, 84 and 95.

In the bassoon and bass clarinet parts in measure 16 (et. al.), the eighth note on the ‘and’ of the second beat is accented, even though it is within a slurred grouping. The players should work to emphasize this note, even though it is not tongued.

At measure 28, although the style abruptly changes to that of a more flowing and legato nature, the ensemble must concentrate on maintaining the established tempo-in other words, don’t slow down!

Measures 52-84 represent the peak of the festivities and should have a wild, almost raucous character.

Finally, the last section of the piece (from measure 85 to the end) should drive forward with an almost relentless energy as the dancing roars to a furious close.

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