New World Sketches

New World Sketches is a descriptive journey through the landscapes and images of America in the early part of the twentieth century. The images and caricatures chosen epitomize all that is the ‘New World’, and the musical language draws upon influences of sound and technique that American composers have introduced into the musical vocabulary.


The work opens with a busy street scene of 1930’s New York.  The hustle and bustle of the city can been heard through percussive scoring of car hooters, trams and pedestrians going about their business.  There is the sound of a Broadway show at figure  B  and a two bar glimpse of a “Tom and Jerry” cartoon just before fig  D where the music enters a change of both mood and neighborhood, into a Harlem jazz club or speak-easy.  A reprise of the main theme (seven bars before  F) heralds a return to the side-walk which brings the first movement to a close.  A two-bar quote from George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue adds to the authenticity of this “symphonic jazz” style movement.

The Deep South

As the subtitle suggests, the second movement of New World Sketches evokes images of the 1890’s Deep South beginning with a simple spiritual.  Played first on unaccompanied solo euphonium the melody is then joined by bass trombone, depicting a slave “work song”.  At figure  I  the tempo increases and a resounding tubular bell announces the arrival of a steam locomotive.  The style is marked ritmico; however care must be taken to ensure the ‘laziness’ in the melody is not lost. The train’s “love chime” whistle can be heard on back row cornets and trombones. 


The final movement steers away from the jazz influences synonymous in America’s musical history and turns towards the music of Aaron Copeland for inspiration. The opening unison tune, played on trombones and cornets accompanied by extensive poly-chords (Ab Major superimposed on Bb Major), creates a ‘big country’ sound while the fast pseudo-Irish jig accompanied by ‘bodhran’ (played on floor tom) provides the energy, and flair of a rodeo.  Section B is a slightly more relaxed folksong portraying images of cowboys at a camp fire or village folk dancing a cakewalk at a party. 

The folk song evolves rapidly in this middle section and the choral scoring represents that of a small church.  The contrasting nature of the way the melody is scored is perhaps the preacher wizening us against the frivolities and sins occurring at the village dance.  A reprise of the opening rodeo music and quote of the opening city motif brings the New World Sketches to a close. 


Difficulty: Intermediate - Difficult

Duration: 00:11:00

Available from: Kirklees Music