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Shenandoah (2019)

Grade 3

duration: 7'

Full PDF Set $140 Additional PDF Score $25 (purchase below)

Shenandoah is one of the most well-known and beloved Americana folk songs. Originally a river song detailing the lives and journeys of fur traders canoeing down the Missouri River, the symbolism of this culturally-significant melody has been expanded to include its geographic namesake – an area of the eastern United States that encompasses West Virginia and a good portion of the western part of Virginia – and various parks, rivers, counties, and academic institutions found within.


Back in May of 2018, after hearing a really lovely duo arrangement of Shenandoah while adjudicating a music competition in Minneapolis, I asked myself, after hearing so many versions of this iconic and historic song, how would I set it differently? I thought about it and thought about it and thought about it, and before I realized it, I had composed and assembled just about all of this arrangement in my head by assigning bass notes to the melody and filling in the harmony in my head afterwards. I would intermittently check myself on the piano to make sure what I was imagining worked, and ended up changing almost nothing at all from what I’d heard in my mind’s ear.


This arrangement recalls the beauty of Shenandoah Valley, not bathed in golden sunlight, but blanketed by low-hanging clouds and experiencing intermittent periods of heavy rainfall (created with a combination of percussion textures, generated both on instruments and from the body). There are a few musical moments where the sun attempts to pierce through the clouds, but ultimately the rains win out. This arrangement of Shenandoah is at times mysterious, somewhat ominous, constantly introspective, and deeply soulful.

Click to view score

Shenandoah - University of Maryland Wind Ensemble
00:00 / 00:00

Full PDF Set (Score + Parts): $140

Additional PDF Score: $25

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