Learn About the Second Suite in F and Its Transcription for Saxophone Quartet
Second Suite in F: A Masterpiece by Gustav Holst
If you are a fan of concert band music, you have probably heard of Second Suite in F, one of the most famous and beloved works by the English composer Gustav Holst. But did you know that this piece is also available for saxophone quartet? In this article, we will explore the history, structure, and musical features of this masterpiece, as well as how it was transcribed for saxophones and what makes it a great choice for saxophone players.
Second Suite In F: Transcribed For Saxophone Quartet Download Pdf
What is the Second Suite in F?
The Second Suite in F for Military Band (Op. 28, No. 2) is a four-movement work composed by Gustav Holst in 1911. It is his second and last suite for concert band, following his First Suite in E-flat (Op. 28, No. 1) written in 1909. Both suites are considered landmarks in the development of concert band literature, as they demonstrate Holst's mastery of orchestration, harmony, and form.
Why is it important for concert band repertoire?
The Second Suite in F is important for concert band repertoire because it showcases Holst's originality and creativity in using folk music as a source of inspiration. Holst was interested in folk music since his early years as a composer, and he incorporated several folk tunes into this suite. He also used various techniques to transform and develop these tunes, such as variation, modulation, counterpoint, and fugue. The result is a rich and diverse musical landscape that reflects Holst's personal style and vision.
How is it related to folk music?
The Second Suite in F is related to folk music because it is based on seven traditional tunes from England and Ireland. Holst found these tunes in different sources, such as books, collections, and recordings. He also arranged some of them for choir or piano before using them in his suite. Here is a list of the folk tunes used in each movement:
March: "Morris Dance", "Swansea Town", "Claudy Banks"
Song Without Words "I'll Love My Love": "I'll Love My Love"
Song of the Blacksmith: "A Blacksmith Courted Me"
Fantasia on the "Dargason": "The Dargason", "Greensleeves"
As you can see, Holst used more than one tune in some movements, creating interesting contrasts and combinations. He also gave each movement a descriptive title that hints at the character and mood of the music.
The Movements of the Second Suite in F
The main theme and its variations
The first movement of the suite is a lively and energetic march that begins with a fanfare-like introduction. The main theme is based on the folk tune "Morris Dance", which Holst heard on a phonograph record. The theme is played by the clarinets and saxophones, and then repeated by the brass with a different accompaniment. Holst then presents two variations of the theme, each with a different key, tempo, and instrumentation. The first variation is in B-flat major, slower, and played by the woodwinds. The second variation is in F minor, faster, and played by the brass and percussion.
The contrasting trio section
After the second variation, Holst introduces a new section that contrasts with the main theme. This section is based on two folk tunes: "Swansea Town" and "Claudy Banks". The first tune is a melancholic melody that Holst arranged for choir in 1916. It is played by the horns and euphoniums, accompanied by a pulsing bass line. The second tune is a cheerful song that Holst arranged for piano in 1909. It is played by the cornets and trombones, accompanied by a syncopated rhythm. Holst then combines the two tunes in a clever way, creating a polyphonic texture. He also modulates to different keys, such as C major, A minor, and E-flat major.
Song Without Words "I'll Love My Love"
The lyrical melody and its accompaniment
The second movement of the suite is a beautiful and expressive song without words that features the folk tune "I'll Love My Love". This tune is also one of the songs that Holst arranged for choir in 1916. It is a sad story of a young woman who is sent to a madhouse by her parents because they disapprove of her lover. The tune is played by the solo cornet, accompanied by a delicate and flowing accompaniment by the woodwinds and horns. The melody has a simple and elegant shape, with a rising and falling contour.
The modulation and the climax
After the first statement of the melody, Holst modulates to G minor and repeats the melody with a fuller accompaniment by the brass and percussion. He then modulates to B-flat major and repeats the melody again with an even richer accompaniment by the whole band. This creates a dramatic climax that expresses the intensity of the emotions. Holst then returns to F major and ends the movement with a soft and gentle coda.
Song of the Blacksmith
The rhythmic motif and its development
The third movement of the suite is a lively and rhythmic song that depicts the sound of a blacksmith's hammer. The movement is based on the folk tune "A Blacksmith Courted Me", which Holst also arranged for choir in 1916. It is a humorous story of a woman who rejects a blacksmith's proposal because he has too many children from his previous marriages. The tune is introduced by the piccolo and flute, accompanied by a repeated rhythmic motif that mimics the hammering sound. The motif consists of two eighth notes followed by two sixteenth notes, creating an anapestic rhythm. Holst then develops this motif throughout the movement, using different instruments, keys, dynamics, and articulations.
The use of percussion and anvil
One of the most distinctive features of this movement is the use of percussion and anvil to create a realistic effect of metal striking metal. Holst instructs the percussionists to use snare drum, bass drum, cymbals, triangle, tambourine, and anvil. The anvil can be either a real one or a substitute made of metal bars or pipes. The percussion and anvil play an important role in creating contrast, accentuation, and excitement in the music. They also add to the humor and irony of the song.
Fantasia on the "Dargason"
The interplay of two folk tunes
```html Dargason" is a fast and lively dance tune that Holst arranged for piano in 1909. It is played by the clarinets and saxophones in a fugue-like manner, with each voice entering one after another. The tune has a distinctive rhythm that alternates between two long notes and two short notes, creating a hemiola effect. "Greensleeves" is a slow and melancholic song that is widely known and loved. It is played by the horns and euphoniums in a contrasting section, with a smooth and legato melody. Holst then combines the two tunes in a clever and ingenious way, creating a polyphonic texture that is both complex and harmonious. He also varies the instrumentation, dynamics, and tempo of the two tunes, creating different moods and effects. For example, he makes the "Dargason" tune softer and slower, while making the "Greensleeves" tune louder and faster. He also adds new instruments to the "Dargason" tune, such as the piccolo, flute, oboe, bassoon, cornet, trombone, tuba, and percussion. He also changes the key of the "Greensleeves" tune from A minor to F major, creating a brighter and happier sound.
The gradual increase of instruments and dynamics
The movement reaches its climax when Holst brings all the instruments together in a grand finale. He gradually increases the number of instruments and dynamics, creating a sense of excitement and anticipation. He also increases the tempo of the "Dargason" tune, making it faster and faster until it reaches a presto speed. He then ends the movement with a sudden forte chord that surprises and delights the listeners.
The Transcription for Saxophone Quartet
Who made the transcription and why?
The transcription for saxophone quartet was made by David Bussick, a composer, arranger, and saxophonist from Indiana. He made the transcription in 2010 as part of his series of arrangements for saxophone quartet called "Saxophone Quartet Masterworks". He chose to transcribe the Second Suite in F because he admired Holst's music and wanted to make it accessible for saxophone players. He also wanted to challenge the saxophone quartet to play a piece that requires a high level of technical skill, musical expression, and ensemble coordination.
How does the transcription differ from the original?
The transcription for saxophone quartet differs from the original in several ways. First, it reduces the number of instruments from a full concert band to four saxophones: soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone. This means that some parts have to be omitted or reassigned to different voices. For example, in the first movement, the solo cornet part is given to the soprano saxophone, while the euphonium part is given to the baritone saxophone. Second, it changes some aspects of the notation, such as key signatures, clefs, accidentals, articulations, and dynamics. For example, in the second movement, the key signature is changed from F major to G major to suit the range of the saxophones better. Third, it adapts some aspects of the style and expression to suit the characteristics of the saxophones better. For example, in the third movement, some slurs are added or removed to make the articulation smoother or sharper.
What are the advantages and challenges of playing it on saxophones?
The transcription for saxophone quartet has some advantages and challenges for playing it on saxophones. Some of the advantages are:
It allows saxophone players to enjoy and appreciate Holst's music from a different perspective.
It showcases the versatility and expressiveness of the saxophones as musical instruments.
It provides an opportunity for saxophone players to develop their technical skills, such as intonation, fingering, tonguing, breathing, and embouchure.
It enhances the musical communication and collaboration among saxophone players as an ensemble.
Some of the challenges are:
It requires saxophone players to play with a high level of accuracy and precision in terms of pitch, rhythm, balance, blend, and phrasing.
It demands saxophone players to play with a wide range of dynamics and colors in order to create contrast and variety in the music.
It challenges saxophone players to play with a sense of style and expression that is faithful to Holst's intentions and vision.
It tests saxophone players to play with a sense of stamina and endurance, as the piece is long and demanding.
Summary of the main points
In conclusion, the Second Suite in F is a masterpiece by Gustav Holst that is based on folk music and showcases his originality and creativity as a composer. It consists of four movements that have different musical features and characters, such as march, song, dance, and fantasia. It is an important and influential work for concert band repertoire, as it demonstrates Holst's mastery of orchestration, harmony, and form. It is also available for saxophone quartet, thanks to the transcription by David Bussick, who made some changes and adaptations to suit the saxophones better. It is a great choice for saxophone players who want to challenge themselves and enjoy Holst's music from a different perspective.
Recommendations for further listening and reading
If you are interested in learning more about the Second Suite in F and Holst's music in general, here are some recommendations for further listening and reading:
Listen to other works by Holst for concert band, such as First Suite in E-flat, Hammersmith, and Moorside Suite.
Listen to other works by Holst for other genres, such as The Planets, St. Paul's Suite, and The Hymn of Jesus.
Listen to other works by other composers that are based on folk music, such as Vaughan Williams' English Folk Song Suite, Grainger's Lincolnshire Posy, and Copland's Appalachian Spring.
Read more about Holst's life and music in books, such as Gustav Holst: A Biography by Imogen Holst, The Music of Gustav Holst by Jon C. Mitchell, and Gustav Holst: The Man and His Music by Michael Short.
Read more about the transcription for saxophone quartet in the score notes by David Bussick, available at https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/second-suite-in-f-transcribed-for-saxophone-quartet-digital-sheet-music/20464614.
Here are some frequently asked questions about the Second Suite in F:
What is the difference between a suite and a symphony?
A suite is a collection of musical pieces that are usually based on a common theme or genre, such as dance, song, or folk music. A symphony is a large-scale musical work that usually consists of four movements that follow a specific structure and contrast in tempo, mood, and form.
What is the difference between a military band and a concert band?
A military band is a type of band that performs music for military ceremonies and events, such as marches, fanfares, and anthems. A concert band is a type of band that performs music for concerts and recitals, such as suites, symphonies, and overtures.
What is the difference between a transcription and an arrangement?
A transcription is a process of adapting a musical work from one medium or instrument to another without changing its essential features or style. An arrangement is a process of adapting a musical work from one medium or instrument to another with some changes or modifications in its features or style.
What is the difference between a fugue and a fantasia?
A fugue is a musical form that consists of one or more themes that are introduced by different voices or instruments in imitation and then developed through various techniques. A fantasia is a musical form that consists of free and imaginative variations on one or more themes or motifs.
What is the difference between an anapestic rhythm and a hemiola effect?
An anapestic rhythm is a type of rhythm that consists of two short notes followed by one long note, such as du-du-DUM. A hemiola effect is a type of rhythmic device that creates a contrast between two different meters or groupings of notes, such as 3/4 vs 6/8 or 2/4 vs 3/4.