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Variations on "We Three Kings"

By Joe Clark

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Piano Solo - Advanced
Composed by Joe Clark. 21st Century, Christmas. 12 pages. Published by Joe Clark (S0.19651).

Item Number: S0.19651

I consider “Variations on ‘We Three Kings’”* to be my first mature work. It was conceived in the fall of my freshman year of high school while on a post-Thanksgiving mall trip with my grandparents. While, I assume, listening to the Christmas music continually playing over the speakers, I realized how fond I was of “We Three Kings”. Perhaps it’s the triple meter, the transition between major and minor modes, or some other intrinsic quality that cannot be articulated – but, whatever the reason, I decided I wanted to write a theme and variations on that melody.I had previously done an arrangement in 5/4 in seventh grade for my teacher and me to play in lessons. I subsequently arranged it out (extremely poorly) for woodwind quintet upon the recommendation of my music teacher. While I do not consider either of these arrangements to be publishable, they did provide the genesis for these “Variations”. The idea of variations in different meters was strongly on my mind – as were the interplay of major and minor and the idea of canon (via Douglas R. Hofstadter’s marvelous tome “Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid”). The result of my mall-based inspiration and these various ideas is the piece you see now before you.I will be the first to admit that it is challenging. I myself could not play it for several years after I wrote it – and, even now, some spots still cause difficulties. However, do not be discouraged from attempting the piece! It is intended to be fun to play and listen to – and has been a big hit at family gatherings (typically around Christmas time. I do not advocate playing it at other times of the year, as people are generally hostile to “Christmas music” being played at “inappropriate times”).*I recognize the inherent typographical concerns resulting from the use of adjacent single and double quotation marks. If you are offended by my typesetting, I sincerely apologise and would love to discuss it with you.

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