American Salute

Morton Gould (1913–1996)

American Salute (1947)

  • 1st and 2nd bassoon
  • m 15-40 (21 total measures)
  • Range: (Low F–B below middle C)
  • Bass clef only

Performance issues: Phrasing. Rhythm, Note patterns, Articulation

This piece is still under copyright. It is available to purchase for a few dollars here.

About the music: Morton Gould was an American composer with a career that included radio, television, and film work. Much of his music was in the patriotic vein, so American Salute is typical; it is an orchestral arrangement of the song, When Johnny Comes Marching Home. The passage at rehearsal A features the bassoons very prominently in the orchestral texture, so steadiness of the metric feel and security in rhythmic placement is essential. An interesting technical item is the rhythmic writing: there are always four beats per measure, but the quarter note and dotted-quarter note are interchangeable as the metric feel shifts between simple and compound meter. Articulation style is quite detached in order to make the 126 metronome marking produce “brisk” triplets, and the slurs, staccato dots, and accents all add to a slightly stylized version of the song. The dynamic level is subdued, but the duet must be played with soloistic confidence.

About performing the except: This excerpt will provide satisfying duet material, and the student should have that experience. Both parts are technically difficult in the last five measures, so there is good reason to work on first and second parts: the difficulty in the arpeggios may disturb both metric security and articulation style. It would be wise for the student to practice this material at mezzo forte volume rather than piano. When the notes are secure, then the dynamic level can be adjusted; if practiced too softly, the passage may never become secure. This excerpt presents a good opportunity to discuss the need for the second bassoonist to play slightly shorter note lengths because of the lower range of the part. Since the low notes speak slower and sound longer and thicker, the player has to compensate.

This excerpt was taken and used with permission from Ann Pesavento’s doctoral dissertation: Orchestral excerpts as developmental studies for the intermediate bassoonist: a collection of selected passages. D.A. diss, University of Northern Colorado, 1989. Pp. 360. OCLC#: 21892445. UMI 9016608.


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