Tuesday, June 23, 2015

TUESDAY, JUNE 23, 2015

"Music does bring people together. It allows us to experience the

 same emotions. People everywhere are the same in heart and
 spirit.  No matter what language we speak, what color we are.
 The form of our politics or the expression of our love and
 our faith.  Music proves: We are the same.
John Denver

"As much as we are all unique and different from each other we are
 still all the same as music is a language that relates to all human-kind."


John Philip Sousa
1890 Recording
"The Thunderer March" is in much the 
same manner as most of Sousa's music;
however, it is one of his first "distinctly"
American-sounding marches. It was
dedicated to the Columbia Commandery
No. 2, Knights Templar, of Washington,
D.C. composed for the occasion of the
Twenty-fourth Triennial Conclave of the
Grand Encampment held in October 1889.
Sousa had been "knighted" in
that organization three
years earlier.
Sousa's daughter, Helen,
made it known
that The Thunderer was
her mother's favorite march and
also indicated that she believed
that the "Thunderer" might have been
her father's salute to The London Times,
it often referred to as "The Thunderer," but it
has since been determined that Sousa had no
association with that newspaper at the time. It was
also thought that the "Thunderer" might have been
one of the Masons in charge of making
arrangements for the 1889 conclave,
possibly Myron M. Parker,
who worked tirelessly to make the event a
huge success, but no one is certain.
The title may also refer to the thunderous
"pyrotechnic" effects of the drum and bugle parts in
the first half of the march. Whatever the case, "The
Thunderer" is a wonderful example of Sousa's work
at the height of his career and the composition
has stood the test of time not only as one of his most
famous but one of his most accessible and easily
playable marches; for this reason it was often a
favorite of circus bands who liked to perform it at
impressively fast tempos. (It was also the election
theme for ABC News from 1968 to 1972.)

The march follows the standard form
that is used in many of his other works. As is
common, his themes are contrasting. During
the repeat of the B section, Sousa introduces
new counter melodic ideas. The trio is song-like.
There is a ritardando leading into the repeat of
the final theme, seguing to the piece's conclusion.
The piece does include a notable "quote"
of sorts. In the second section of the march,
Sousa included an adaptation of an earlier
piece called "Here's Your Health, Sir!"
which he had written for
"The Trumpet and Drum" in 1886.
A Book of Instruction for
the Field-Trumpet and
Drum Signals Now in Use
in the Army, Navy, and
Marine Corps
At the time this march was written Sousa was 35 years
of age.  He had led the Marine Band for 9 years and was
considered an outstanding composer and conductor.
However, he was still naive in many business matters.
Before he changed publishers in 1892, and began
to make his own business arrangements, he sold
many of his most popular marches, including The
Thunderer, for $35.00 each.

Opening of the March: Inversion (Horizontal Reflection)
An example of  symmetry in music

The next section is commonly called the first
strain, as it is the first prominent melody of the
march. The first strain is typically 8 or 16 bars
long with 4-measure phrases. The first strain
can be in either major or minor mode and can
use any variety of dynamics, instrumentation
and modulations. Typically this strain utilizes
similar motifs in its phrases, and sounds more
rhythmically straightforward than the next
section. After the first playing of the strain, it
is repeated once, sometimes with added
parts such as counter-melodies.

The Thunderer First Strain
The second strain can be 8, 16, or 32 bars
long and is the second primary melody of the
march. This strain may use somewhat different
instrumentation or may alter the relative
dynamics of the different parts. In terms of
phrasing, it also uses 4-measure phrases, but
with more varied motifs. This makes the second
strain's melodies sound more "stretched out,"
For example, many second strains utilize more
whole notes than the first strain. For a good
example, listen to The Stars and Stripes Forever.
The second strain is usually repeated once like
the first, but some marches omit this repeat.

The Thunderer Second Strain
The third (or technically forth or fifth) primary
melody in a march is called the trio. The trio is
described as the main melody of the march. It is
often played legato style in a softer dynamic, and
features woodwinds more than brass. Sousa often
used clarinets and euphoniums in lower tenor
register in his trios. The trio is the most contrasting
section, often containing variations of motifs heard
in the previous two strains. The trio melody is
often repeated once at a softer dynamic, or not
repeated at all and goes right to the next section.
In almost all cases, the trio modulates to the sub-
dominant key of the march, meaning one flat is
added to the key signature. Again, this is for the
purpose of contrast and makes the trio more
memorable to the listener. The fact that the key is
now flatter also offers a more relaxing feel for those
trios with softer instrumentation. For marches
starting in minor keys, the trio is usually
modulates to the relative major. This key is
Next comes the breakstrain (sometimes called
the dogfight or interlude), making it the 4th
main melody heard. This strain is loud, intense
and marcato. The break strain's purpose can
be found in its title. The breakstrain literally
breaks a gap between the trio sections. It
offers contrast to the usually softer trio
melodies, and generates excitement for the
listener. Most breakstrains resemble a
conversation between the upper woodwinds
and the low brass. The final measures of
the breakstrain typically contain tension-
building chords or chromatic motifs.
After the breakstrain, the trio is heard again,
either for one last time or and the 2nd (or third)
time. If the trio after the breakstrain is the last,
it is usually played in the same style as the first
trio. Sometimes this trio has added counter-
melodies or obbligatos. After this trio, the break-
strain is played again, then moves on to the final
trio. The final trio is known as the grandioso. It is
typically much louder than the previous playing(s)
of the trio and utilizes all sections of the band,
bringing everything to a close. The grandioso is
considered the most exciting section of the march
and serves the purpose of instilling the trio melody
into the mind of the listener. The grandioso some-
times adds yet another counter-melody or obbligato,
such as the one in The Stars and Stripes Forever.

The last measure of the march sometimes
contains a stinger, a I chord played in unison on the
upbeat after a quarter rest. Not all marches carry a
stinger; the National Emblem march is a famous
march not to have an ending stinger.

In some military marches, such as "U.S. Field
Artillery" by John Philip Sousa, there is only one
playing of the breakstrain, resulting in
only two "playings" of the trio.

Trio and Grandioso
(The rest of The Thunderer)
Therefore, the military march form is this: