Gwyneth Walker

Buffalo Gals and Other Songs

for Clarinet and Piano (2005)

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Download an a MP3 file of the first movement of this work performed by Scot Humes, clarinet and Richard Seiler, piano.
Download an a MP3 file of the second movement of this work.
Download an a MP3 file of the third movement of this work.

Download an a MP3 file of the first movement of this work performed by Mary Ellen Miller, clarinet and Maureen Burford, piano.
Download an a MP3 file of the second movement of this work.
Download an a MP3 file of the third movement of this work.

Download an a MP3 file of the first movement of this work performed by David Kirby, clarinet and TBA, piano.
Download an a MP3 file of the second movement of this work.
Download an a MP3 file of the third movement of this work.

Download a PDF file of the lyrics for the folk songs used in this work for the purposes of an audience "sing-along" combined with a performance.


Composed for Mary Ellen Miller, clarinetist, for premiere at "Visiting Composer Day" at the Community Music School of Springfield, Massachusetts April 8, 2006

These folksong arrangements were created to be concert presentations of familiar songs and ballads. Classical forms and techniques, especially with an emphasis on theme and variations constructions, are applied to the various verses of the songs. Delight is taken in exploring and dramatizing this material.

"Buffalo Gals!" is the most straightforward of the three movements. The theme is stated by the clarinet at the onset. Then follows an "embroidered" version of the theme, in triplets. An interlude is inserted, followed by the theme in augmentation (twice as slowly) in the piano, with the clarinet running up and down the scales in rapid counterpoint. A clarinet cadenza leads to the ending. The mood is joyful throughout.

"Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier" is a dramatic treatment of the original song. After the first two verses ("Here I sit on Buttermilk Hill....and "I'd sell my flax, I'd sell my wheel, to buy my love a sword of steel"), a contrasting section is inserted, marked "to evoke the sounds of war, a military drum." This section grows in dynamics and tempo to a climax, followed by a peaceful duet between clarinet and piano, perhaps as mother and son sing to each other from afar. The military sounds recur, the music grows in intensity and then fades into a quiet lament.

Humor takes its turn in the melodramatic treatment of "Frankie and Johnnie," a ballad about a woman and her man who "done her wrong!" Each of the many verses of this song is presented in a different guise 1. introducing the characters; 2. Frankie and Johnnie are out walking; 3. Johnnie has on his new suit (the piano is marked "proudly prancing"); 4. Frankie fears that Johnnie is "doing her wrong" (marked "anguished"); 5. they quarrel; 6. Frankie laments the fight with Johnnie; 7. Frankie and Johnnie reconcile and walk off together joyfully (and Frankie is proud that she stood up for herself!).

The colorful character of these songs has inspired this three-part set. It is hoped that these new arrangements will provide material for clarinetists and pianists to display their musical skills within an entertainment setting.

Notes by the composer