Tombstone Galop (2020) – flex ensemble

Free downloads:
Full Score – Flex Ensemble (any 6 melodic instruments and percussion; 11″x17″)
Reduced C Score (for easier printing/reading; letter sized)
All Parts (letter sized)
Preview Audio

About the piece:

Tombstone Galop was composed in response to the Creatve Repertoire Initiative. The CRI was designed to encourage composers to write for flexible instrumentation, to allow directors unsure of their upcoming instrumentation to have repertoire to perform, especially with COVID-19 happening. This is for any six melodic instruments and up to 5 percussionists (3-4 is preferred). The parts are in the range of grade 3-4 in difficulty.

I have long been a fan of spaghetti western films. Recently, I moved to Benson, Arizona, which is a short drive away from perhaps the most famous town in the Wild West – Tombstone! The town has a legendary history, starting as a silver mine and growing into one of the big boomtowns of the West. At its peak, it had saloons, hotels, schools, churches, gambling and dance halls, an ice cream parlor, and a bowling alley! This served its nearly 14,000 residents, many of whom were made wealthy from the mine. It was not uncommon to see people in the latest European fashions. But it was not all fun and games. Dangerous gangs made a living smuggling across the Mexican border and extorting locals.

Tombstone entered the history books on October 26, 1881. That March, three members of the notorious gang called The Cowboys attempted to rob a stagecoach filled with nearly $26,000 worth of silver (that’s nearly $700,000 in today’s dollars). Two men in the stagecoach were shot and killed. The Earp family, in charge of the police in Tombstone, pursued the robbers. This would culminate in October at the legendary shootout at the O.K. Corral. This short gunfight led to three deaths. Later, two of the law enforcement officers involved would be assassinated. This event spawned several movies and TV episodes, and inspired the gunslinging view many had of the Wild West. The town of Tombstone exists to this day, and is a hotspot for tourists who are fans of the Wild West.

In this piece, I tried to imagine what music might have been heard in a dance hall in Tombstone, during its happier days. This is tinged with the dark opening and the sounds of horses and guns. It is in a traditional march form, with the faster circus march tempo. The introduction and first strain are in C minor. The second strain is in Ab major, and we hear horses for the first time. The trio is gentler and in Db major. The dogfight represents the gunfight at the O.K. Corral. Can you hear the horses? The piece ends triumphantly with the victory of law over the outlaws of the notorious Cowboy gangsters.

The piece can be performed by any 6 melodic instruments. The parts are labelled 1-6 and with their transposition. For example Part 4 (F) could be played on a mellophone or horn; Part 1 (C) could be played on violin or flute. The flexibility is up to you! Numerous markings make the instrumentation more interesting, offering solo opportunities, or encouraging certain parts to play the second time only at a given repeat. Be creative, have fun!