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America, The Beautiful, A Concert Arrangement

By Ward, Howe

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Piano, Piano Solo - Advanced
Composed by Ward, Howe. Arranged by Michael Bomier. 20th Century, Sacred, Repertoire, Secular. Sheet Music Single. 9 pages. Michael Bomier #GEATB. Published by Michael Bomier (S0.24106).

Item Number: S0.24106

This classic patriotic song occupies a unique place in our country's musical heritage. Because of its superior quality as a composition, it has been adapted for many genres and styles, from a simple guitar and solo voice to a full orchestral ensemble, and most everything in between. Even jazz pianists have included it in their concerts and club appearances. The version offered here combines many different treatments under one roof. It begins with tolling bells, not those of any great gate, but those that ring out where this song affirms our American freedoms. The initial statement is a single-note melody, with softly arpeggiated yet rich chords underneath, for a simple, yet warm and affectionate, opening. That lovesong segues into a jazz rendition, full of extended altered and substituted harmony. As an interlude, a short half-chorus of "We Shall Overcome" is rendered in the finest harmonic finery the rich tradition of gospel piano music can offer. Then, the melody moves to the left hand, with Lisztian 16th-note arpeggios above. Of course, the left hand has to get in on the cascades of notes, and so a R.H. block-chord melody, ala Beethoven comes in, but OVER the left hand doing 16th note arpeggios, of a different and more melodic character than the previous chorus. A transition in contrary motion takes us to a Handelian sequence, with right-hand broken octaves that ring out the melody from up above, while quarter-notes move in modal harmony below. The final verse is a most unique feature. The chime effect has been a closely guarded secret amoungst composers for the piano. It was given to me by an elderly man, and I hereby pass it along to the next generation. The secret is in the Wrong Note atop each stack of 3rds, 4ths, and 6ths, such that a minor 9th interval is created between the outer voices. This is called a "wolf-tone", as it creates an harmonic "howl" that, in a lower register, would be quite the blunt instrument. Up in the highest register of the piano, though, this wolf-tone creates a truly chime-like effect, as it emulates the inharmonicity and clangorous effect of a tubular bell. Hold the sustain pedal down from the beginning of the chime part until its resolution. A stunning finale to this set of variations on this Hymn to the beauty, majesty, and resolve of the landscape, and the people of the North American continent. Approx. 8 mins 45 secs. in duration. MBB.

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