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Appalachian Morning

Robert Sheldon
(b. 1954)

Publisher Alfred Music Publishing


Date of Publication 2008
Duration 04:00
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Unit 1: Composer

Born in 1954, Robert Sheldon has been awarded the Volkwein Award for composition and the

Stanbury Award for teaching by the American School Band Directors Association, and the

International Assembly of Phi Beta Mu honored him with the International Outstanding

Bandmaster Award. He taught in the Florida and Illinois public schools and has served as faculty

at Florida State University, teaching conducting and instrumental music education classes. Now

as a concert band editor for Alfred Music Publishing, he continues his career as a composer and

conductor, and still regularly accepts commissions for new works.

Unit 2: Composition

Appalachian Morning was commissioned by the Psi Chapter of Phi Beta Mu for the Kentucky

Music Educators Association in 2008. This piece provides several solo opportunities for students

in all sections and paints a beautiful picture of early settlers watching the sunrise as they are

traveling through the Cumberland Mountains. Through dynamic shifts, this piece allows students

to fully explore the dynamic range of their instruments with passages ranging from pianissimo to

fortissimo.
Unit 3: Historical Perspective

Influenced by the settlers from Scotland and Ireland in Kentucky, Appalachian Morning portrays

a musical walk through the woods and mountains of the Cumberland Gap. Located in the

Cumberland Mountains ranging through Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia, the “Cumberland

Gap” is a narrow pass near the borders of all three states. It was used by the Native Americans

until settlers discovered it in 1750 and used it to journey to the western frontier led by Daniel

Boone, who was known as one of the first American folk heroes for his exploration.

Unit 4: Technical Considerations

Throughout the piece clarinets, flutes, alto saxophones, horns, and trumpets will come across

grace notes or 32nd notes in the melodic lines, which add to the line stylistically but can be

technically hard for beginning players. Along with that, some players may experience issues with

the range of their part, with both trumpet parts needing to play a high F and the trumpet I part

going to a high G. Similar issues are in the low brass along with the need for flutes to play high

notes in lower dynamics. An issue with the percussion could be the entrances they have with the

wind players, as the bell player needs to come in precisely in time with the flutes. These can

normally be fixed with proper preparatory breathes and blowing the correct amount of air

through the instrument.

Unit 5: Stylistic Considerations

Opening with a clarinet solo presenting the theme of the piece, it is important for the non-solo

instruments to stay under the melodic line as it is passed to other instruments. Players need to be

aware of what is the foreground, mid-ground, and background, as often some of the alto and
tenor voices will respond to the melodic lines with counter-melodic lines. While the rest of the

instruments (usually tenor or bass instruments) hold down the harmonic lines, outlining the

chords with long tones. Knowing their place in the music and the ensemble will help players

blend with each other and make the most out of the dynamic shaping of the piece.

Unit 6: Musical Elements

This piece contains so many dynamic shifts that players will need to understand their place in the

ensemble and focus on balancing with the instruments around them. Only taking nine measures

to bring the ensemble from piano to forte, and getting to fortissimo by measure 19, the ensemble

will need to express what dynamic they are wanting to play to sell the emotional impact. Along

with the dynamics are the melodic lines being passed around from instrument to instrument,

where the transitions are an important part of maintaining the shape and feel of the line. This

requires a level of listening through the ensemble so they can blend with the people around them.

Unit 7: Form and Structure

Appalachian Morning has a rounded binary form, with sections normally ending with large

dynamic shifts, and the recapitulation of the A section after a key change at measure 35. The A

and A’ sections are easily identified with several solo melodic lines that move around between

instruments, where the B section has more ensemble playing and contains the climax of the piece

at the forte-piano in measure 33.


Unit 8: Suggested Listening

Robert Sheldon, Fantasy on an Early American Marching Tune

Robert W. Smith, Suite of Appalachian Folk Songs

Nathan Daughtrey, Appalachian Air

Anne McGintyl, Cumberland Gap

Unit 9: Additional References and Resources

Sheldon, Robert. "Alfred Music | Appalachian Morning | Robert Sheldon | Part(s); Score."Alfred

Music | Appalachian Morning | Robert Sheldon | Part(s); Score. Alfred Music, n.d. Web.

25 Feb. 2017. <http://www.alfred.com/Products/Appalachian-Morning--00-29466.aspx>.

Sheldon, Robert. "Appalachian Morning." (n.d.): n. pag. Panther Country. Web. 25 Feb. 2017.

<http://www.panthercountry.org/userfiles/393/Classes/22409/Appalachian%20Mornin

%20by%20Robert%20Sheldon%20Score.pdf>.

Sheldon, Robert. "RobertSheldonMusic.com." RobertSheldonMusiccom. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Feb.

2017. <http://robertsheldonmusic.com/>.

WindBandCentral. "Appalachian Morning by Robert Sheldon." YouTube. YouTube, 30 Dec.

2012. Web. 25 Feb. 2017. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B1Tx0H0BmUk>.