Repertoire Spotlight on Bob Margolis’ Arrangement of “The Battle Pavane”

Spotlight on Bob Margolis’ Arrangement of “The Battle Pavane”

Recently, our repertoire development team conducted an informal survey of MakeMusic employees regarding their favorite SmartMusic pieces. We’ll share their replies as “Staff Picks” in the next few months within SmartMusic, on this blog, and on our Instagram account (@smartmusicofficial).

Our social media manager, Ryan Sargent, chose “The Battle Pavane” as one of his favorites because it was, “One of the very last pieces I conducted with my middle schoolers before coming to work for MakeMusic; I’ll always remember that final concert!”

Click the play button below to hear a recording of “The Battle Pavane” and click on the cover to follow along in the score. Scroll past the score to read about Ryan’s experience with the piece and his tips for preparing it with your ensemble.

Link to MP3 file of The Battle Pavane:

Performing “The Battle Pavane”

I taught at a small private school with reduced instrumentation, and I needed a piece that worked with minimal percussion and a weak low end. “The Battle Pavane” was perfect. Cues are included throughout, so my lack of bass clarinets and weak french horn section got help from other students.

The piece is straightforward and simple, but also provides an opportunity for extra-musical education. This was the first time many of my students had heard music from the Renaissance, and Margolis retains musical markers of the period in his arrangement. This offered me ways to provide historical context to my students, some of whom were learning about the Renaissance in history class as well. Emphasize to your students that this is a slow processional dance. The movement matters!

Conducting Tips

Some musical things to consider when conducting “The Battle Pavane”:

– The tenor drum part can be played on a large snare (as deep as possible) with the snares off. The historical goal is to get a deep, rich tone. This part looks simple (your student will say “boring”), but is actually a challenge. The tenor player has to be perfectly metronomic.

– Resist the urge to indulge in rubato. This is a dance, not a chorale.

– Because of the relatively simple Renaissance construction, exaggerate dynamics to help emphasize form changes. You can’t afford to let any opportunity for musical expression pass by. This means exaggerating your left-hand gestures!

– We spent a lot of time balancing the inner parts. Especially if you’re utilizing the cues, the inner parts in the clarinet and trumpet sections are critical.

– Don’t neglect transitions. Melodic handoffs should be smooth. Remember, you’re dancing, not marching!

Overall, this was a fantastic piece for a beginning ensemble, and one I wholeheartedly recommend, especially for reduced ensembles or directors looking for ways to introduce Renaissance style and history.

Of course, you can find “The Battle Pavane” in SmartMusic. Stay tuned for more “Staff Picks” in the coming weeks.

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