Today’s featured content is Frank Ticheli’s Portrait of a Clown. This Grade 2 piece masterfully portrays the varied emotions of the clown. Because it doesn’t rely heavily on low brass and low woodwinds, it’s often a great choice for young band programs that have not yet fully developed those sections.
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Program Notes from Composer Frank Ticheli
Portrait of a Clown is in ABA form surrounded by an eight-bar introduction and coda.
The melody in the A section, first appearing in the flutes and oboe, is derived from the first five pitches of the Bb Lydian scale: B flat, C, D, E natural, and F. It should be performed in a bouncy, happy manner, and should always predominate.
The middle section is flowing and melancholy, but without a change in tempo. It contains two melodies. The first can be heard at letters D, E, and G. The second appears at letter F in the clarinets and horns. Both melodies are marked “espressivo,” and should always sing through.
The return of the A section at letter H contains three statements of the Lydian melody:
- with a walking bass in the low woodwinds and low brass;
- with its inversion in the 1st trumpets (at letter I); and
- with a countermelody in the woodwinds (at letter J).
A brief coda at letter K recalls the introduction and brings the piece to a close.
The piece was scored to permit performances by bands lacking sufficient depth in low woodwinds and low brass. Band directors who do have enough of these instruments should take great care in not allowing them to overpower the others.
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