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Our Director March, by F. E. Bigelow

Our Director March, cover.

In the March 1997 issue of the Washington Guitar Society newsletter I included a guitar version of "Our Director March", published and arranged by Walter Jacobs. The accompanying article included a bit of the history of this renowned march, and my arguments in defense of playing music that many people would turn their noses up at. Indeed, I say play anything you can get your hands on. I also left in some personal, anecdotal material. Feel free to tune out whenever and wherever you'd like.

***

According to the Heritage Encyclopedia of Band Music, Our Director is "one of the most famous of all marches. It has been adapted by countless schools, colleges, clubs and other organizations as their alma mater or fight song." Not too shabby, eh?

Our Director was the first of only 3 known works by Frederick Ellsworth Bigelow (1873-1929.) It was first published in 1895 and arrangements have been published throughout this century [oops, the 20th, that is], one at least as recently as 1985.

It has an odd tie-in to the guitar world in that Walter Jacobs, American guitarist and publisher, bought an entire catalog of orchestral music just to obtain the rights to Our Director. But this 1902 edition is not a result of that; he purchased the catalog in 1917. In that year Jacobs published a version with words by Jack Yellen (of Ain't She Sweet fame) called The Battle Song Of Liberty.

I know that 19th century music of any sort, and American in particular, doesn't thrill everybody. A piece like this might invite the question, why play something if it isn't great?

First of all, don't knock it until you've played it without flubs at a good tempo, dotted quarter = 104, say. If you still don't like it, maybe you should ask what your problem is. After all, the piece has given a lot of other people a lot of pleasure. Who's to say it isn't great?

Another reason is that every single piece of music you play is a study for every other piece you ever will play. Every piece of guitar music has technical challenges. For example, this piece requires some very nimble right-hand finger maneuvers in measure 17 (counting partial measures.)

Another reason is simply for the reading practice. Time spent reading this will make your first spin through a Bach, Brouwer or you-name-it piece just a little smoother and easier.

Another reason is for the historical interest. This is what got toes tapping back then. Wouldn't it be a drag if it were no different from what's going on now? Playing from an original or facsimile helps to boost the "time traveling" sensation.

Another reason is the satisfaction that comes with not following everybody else's beaten, trodden path. Sometimes I've gone overboard, ranting that you shouldn't work on anything recorded or performed by somebody else. That's crazy, of course, but the quantity and variety of music out there is staggering. And you're not obligated to make a long-term commitment to this or any piece. In this case, if you leave out repeats, you can get back to the "great" stuff - whatever that may be - in a minute and 40 seconds.

The preceding background notes and editorializing are actually unrelated to what gave me the initial bug to present this piece. There's a more personal reason. When I stumbled on it in the Library of Congress, I realized, Holy smokes! This is the one my old piano teacher used to pound out as his "show piece"! His name was Mr. Peverill. He was bald and he did magic tricks. My older sisters had started lessons with him before I did. That was maybe 5th or 6th grade. I was a crummy pupil. In spite of that, the piano lessons gave me a good grounding in reading and making music, and the eventual benefit to my life has been immeasurable. So... I want to thank my parents, Benton and Jane, for the piano lessons - not to mention a billion and one other things.

Below: Our Director March, arranged for guitar by Walter Jacobs.

Our Director March, page 1.

Our Director March, page 2.

Notes:
1. Guide finger dashes, right-hand fingerings, and all handwritten left-hand fingerings have been added by me. Also see the comments provided with the tablature below. See the piano version on the Levy Sheet Music site for a clearly notated rhythm for the "Drum Solo" section.
2. A copy of this piece can be found in the Library of Congress, call number M127 B. I thank the Library of Congress. The cover copied poorly because the copier treated the dark orange color, if I remember, about the same as the black ink. The stamp on the cover reads: The Library of Congress. Two copies received. May 2 1902. COPYRIGHT ENTRY May 2-1902. Class C XXo. No. 26357. Copy B.
3. Reference: The Heritage Encyclopedia of Band Music by William H. Rehrig, edited by Paul E. Bierley. 1991.
4. For more information on Walter Jacobs and some of his original compositions, see The Guitar In America, edited by Peter Danner. Also see Soundboard X/4 p358, Soundboard XIII/3 p194, and Soundboard XXIII/3 p51 with articles by Danner. (It's too bad we don't gather up all the guitar reference material in one big, ol' electronic database, now isn't it?)

The easy-to-read tablature below is faithful to the published transcription in music notation. It uses only common keyboard characters. It's very simple and instantly usable. Click here for some general comments on the modern tablature, including tips on printing it out perfectly.

Title:     Our Director. March.
Composer:  F. E. Bigelow.
Date:      1902.

Tuning:    regular.
Time sig:  6/8.

Fixes, modifications and comments (M=Measure; p=Place in measure; s=String): 
  M74p1s3 original showed B natural (with fingering for B flat); changed to 
    B flat here.
  M41-49 drum solo: Original indicates tremelo with 32nd-note beams on the 
    rhythm stems; I've written "trem." above the staff. 
  Drum Solo instructions: "Drum on the strings near the bridge with the 
    palm of the hand."  Those instructions aren't clear to me.  Consider 
    rasgueados where tremelo is notated and tambora for the simple 8th notes.  
    The snare drum effect would be great, but it's hard to load up in time.  
    Or consider fingernail taps on the bridge, using ami for beat 6 triplets, 
    ending on m for the following beat 1.  Or consider a simultaneous tapping 
    and tambora.  
  In the drum solo tablature, there are rhythm stems with no "note heads" in 
    some of the beat 1 positions.  The interpretation is the conventional 
    one - a tied note, which is what the original shows.  The problem is, 
    exactly what is being tied over?  
  Bass notes throughout the piece are never held over a bar line.  Keep this 
    in mind, since I haven't written in explicit rests to stop the last bass 
    note in a measure.  

Tablature elements to be added by hand:
  Take a moment to fill out the 16th-note beams.

Explanation of symbols: 
  ^ (arrowhead) = arpeggiation.  Original showed a curved bracket ( 
    encompassing the notes of the chord.  I believe this means to play 
    the chord with a thumb stroke.  For a neater appearance, re-draw 
    the ^ arrowhead right at the top of the stem. 
  . = rest. Applies specifically to the previously sounding note on that string.  
    Note: Bass notes are never held over a bar line. Keep that in mind, since 
    I haven't written rests in the bass at the beginning of a measure to stop 
    the bass note sounding from the previous measure.  
  - or _ = accent or emphasis mark.  Original uses > symbol. 
  cresc. = crescendo.  Original uses the skinny angle symbol (opening to the 
    right.) 
  decresc. = decrescendo.  Original uses the skinny angle symbol (closing to 
    the right.)  The text "cresc." and "decresc." in the tablature cover about 
    the same range of music as the skinny angle symbols do on the original.  

Leading measures in original sheet music: 
  1 6 10 15 20 25 30 36. Page 2: 40 46 52 58 63 68 73 78. Last measure is 83. 

*** Download and edit out all material above and below the tablature.
*** Set up your printer for: 96 characters/line (12 characters/inch).
                             66 lines/page (6 lines/inch).
*** Print out starting with the title line below.

                              Our Director. March.                            OD: Page 1 of 3.
    Arr. by Walter Jacobs.  Leading measures: 1 8 16 22 31.                     F. E. Bigelow.

   ff                                  decresc.    f
   __    ___ _____  _____ _____  _____ _____    __   __     _____ _____  _____ _____  _____     
    |  | |-| | | |  | | | | | |  | | | | | |  |  | |  |     | | | | | |  | | | | | |  | | |     
________________________________________________________________________________________________
_____|____________|_2___2_5_2__|_________2_0|___________||__2_._2_2_1_2|____________|___________
_____|_3_3_3_3___3|___3_______3|_____0_2____|_3__.____3_||_____________|_3_._3_3_2_3|___0_2_____
____2|_________2__|____________|_2_2___0____|______2____||*____________|____________|_2_________
_____|____________|____________|____________|_4__.______||*_0__________|_0__________|_0_________
_____|____________|____________|_______0____|_5__.______||________0____|_______0____|___________
_____|____________|____________|____________|___________||_____________|____________|___________



 _____    ___ _____    __   __  _____     _____ _____  _____ _____  _____ _____  _____ _____    
 | | |  | |-| | | |  |  | |  |  | | | |.  | | | | | |  | | | | | |  | | | | | |  | | | | | |    
________________________________________________________________________________________________
___0_1|_2_2_2_2_0__|____3_3__2|_2_0___0_|___2_0______|____________|_2_._2_2_1_2|____________|___
_3____|___________3|_2__2_2___|_2___4_2_|_3_____3_2_0|___0________|____________|_3_._3_3_2_3|___
______|____________|____2_2___|_______2_|____________|_2___2_0____|____________|____________|___
______|_0__________|_2__._____|_________|_0__________|___._____4_2|_0__________|_0__________|___
_0____|____________|__________|_0_____._|____________|____________|_______0____|_______0____|___
______|____________|__________|_________|____________|____________|____________|____________|___


                          ff                                                decresc.
 _____ _____    ___ _____    ___ _____  _____   ___  _____ _____       _____ _____              
 | | | | | |  | |-| | | |  | |-| | | |  | | | | |-|  | | | | | |       | | | | | |           |  
________________________________________________________________________________________________
_________0_1|_2_2_2_2_2_1|_0_0_0_0____|_______0___0|_4_2_0______|_1st_______________||__2nd_____
___0_2_3____|_______1____|_2_______2__|_____2___4__|_3_____3_2_0|_End____0__________||__End_____
_2__________|____________|___________2|___2________|____________|______2___2_0_____*||_______2__
_0__________|_0_____1____|_2__________|_2__________|____________|______________4_2_*||__________
_______0____|____________|____________|____________|____________|______0_.__________||_______0__
____________|____________|____________|____________|_0__________|___________________||__________


   ff                                           mf                                    ff
 __   __       __       __       __       __       ___ _____           ___ _____    __   __     
  | |  |     |  | |.  |  | |.  |  | |.  |  | |.  | |-| | | |  |. |.  | |-| | | |  |  | |  |  |  
________________________________________________________________________________________________
_________||_________|________|____0_2_|____3_5_|____________|______|_________0_1|_2__._____|____
_______0_||__2__3_5_|____7_8_|_3____3_|____5_7_|_2_2_2_2_3_4|_5____|_3_3_3_3____|_________0|_2__
__._2____||*_2__4_6_|____7_9_|____2___|________|_2_2_2_2_4_5|_6____|_________0_1|_2__._2___|_2__
_________||*________|________|_4__.___|_0______|____________|______|_4_4_4_4____|_0__._____|____
__.______||_________|_0______|________|________|____________|____0_|____________|__________|____
_________||_________|________|________|________|____________|______|____________|__________|____



 __       __       __       __       __ _____    __ _____  _____ _____         __   __          
  | |.  |  | |.  |  | |.  |  | |.  |  | | | |  |  | | | |  | | | | | |       |  | |  |          
________________________________________________________________________________________________
______|____2_3_|____0_2_|____3_5_|_3__.___2_0|________0__|_______3_2_0|_1st_____________||______
__3_5_|____3_5_|_3____3_|____5_7_|_0__0_0____|_3__._____3|_2_0________|_End__3__.____0__||______
__4_6_|________|____2___|________|_0__.______|_2__2_2____|_0___2_4_2__|___________2____*||______
______|________|_4__.___|_0______|___________|_4__.______|_2__________|______4__.______*||______
______|_0______|________|________|___________|___________|_______0____|______5__._______||______
______|________|________|________|___________|___________|____________|_________________||______





  Bigelow.  Our Director.  Leading measures: 39 45 52 60 69.                  OD: Page 2 of 3.

                                           Drum Solo. (May be omitted.)
                        ff -    -      -   trem.          trem.         trem.
         ___   __          ^ __ ^ __   ^ __      _____ _____   _____ _____   _____ _____        
       | |-| |  |          |  | |  |   |  | |.   | | | | | |   | | | | | |   | | | | | |        
________________________________________________________________________________________________
__2nd_____________||_TRIO__3__._3__._|_3__.____|_____________|_____________|_____________|______
__End__3_3_3_3__._||_______0__._0__._|_0__.____|_____________|_____________|_____________|______
__________________||_______0__._0__._|_0__._x__|___._x_x_._x_|___._x_x_._x_|___x_x_x_x_x_|______
_______4_____4__._||_______0__._0__._|_0__.____|_____________|_____________|_____________|______
_______5_____5__._||_______2__._2__._|_2__.____|_____________|_____________|_____________|______
__________________||_______3__._3__._|_3__.____|_____________|_____________|_____________|______


          trem.         trem.         trem.                    p
 _____ _____   _____ _____   _____ _____   _____ _____      __          __   __    __   __      
 | | | | | |   | | | | | |   | | | | | |   | | | | | |   |   | |.     |  | |  |  |  | |  |  |   
________________________________________________________________________________________________
_____________|_____________|_____________|_____________|__________||___________|__________|_____
_____________|_____________|_____________|_____________|_______3__||__3________|____2_3__5|_3___
_x_._x_x_._x_|___._x_x_._x_|___._x_x_._x_|___x_x_x_x_x_|_x___._4__||*_4________|____3_4__5|_4___
_____________|_____________|_____________|_____________|__________||*____0_0__0|__________|_____
_____________|_____________|_____________|_____________|__________||___________|__________|_____
_____________|_____________|_____________|_____________|__________||__3__._____|_3__._____|_3___


                                                                                          cre-
 __   __    __   __    __   __    __   __    __   __    __   __    __   __    __   __    __     
  | |  |  |  | |  |  |  | |  |  |  | |  |  |  | |  |  |  | |  |  |  | |  |  |  | |  |  |  | |   
________________________________________________________________________________________________
________|__________|_0________|_2____0___|__________|__________|__________|__________|__________
________|_0________|_1________|_3____1___|_3________|__________|_1________|_3____1___|_0________
________|_0________|__________|__________|_4________|__________|_2________|_4____2___|_0________
__0_0__0|____0_0__0|__________|__________|____0_0__0|____0_0__0|____0_0__0|____0_.__0|____0_0___
________|__________|_3__3_3__3|____3_.__3|__________|__________|__________|__________|__________
__._____|_3__._____|__________|__________|_3__._____|_3__._____|_2__._____|__________|_3__._____


-sc.                                              decresc.    p
 __    __   __    __   __    __   __    __   __  _____ _____    __   __    __   __    __   __   
  |  |  | |  |  |  | |  |  |  | |  |  |  | |  |  | | | | | |  |  | |  |  |  | |  |  |  | |  |   
________________________________________________________________________________________________
___|__________|______3___|_2____0___|__________|____________|__________|__________|__________|__
___|_3________|_2________|__________|_3__._____|____________|_3________|____2_3__5|_3________|__
___|_4________|_2____4___|_2____0___|__________|____________|_4________|____3_4__5|_4________|__
__0|____0_0__0|__________|__________|_4__2_4__2|_0_2_0______|____0_0__0|__________|____0_0__0|__
___|__________|____0_.__0|____0_.__0|_5__._____|_______3_2_0|__________|__________|__________|__
___|_3__._____|__________|__________|__________|____________|_3__._____|_3__._____|_3__._____|__


                                                        f
   __   __    __   __    __   __    __   __    __   __    __   __    __   __    __   __    __   
 |  | |  |  |  | |  |  |  | |  |  |  | |  |  |  | |  |  |  | |  |  |  | |  |  |  | |  |  |  | | 
________________________________________________________________________________________________
__________|_0________|_2____0___|__________|__________|_3________|_2____0___|__________|________
_0________|_1________|_3____1___|_3________|__________|__________|__________|_3________|______1_
_0________|__________|__________|_4________|__________|_3________|_3____3___|_4________|_0______
____0_0__0|__________|__________|____0_0__0|____0_0__0|__________|__________|_0__0_0__0|_2____1_
__________|_3__3_3__3|____3_.__3|__________|__________|_4__4_4__4|____4_.__4|__________|____3_._
_3__._____|__________|__________|_3__._____|_3__._____|__________|__________|__________|________






  Bigelow.  Our Director.  Leading measures: 77.                              OD: Page 3 of 3.

                                                p                       -
 __    __   __    __   __         __   __    __                __   __  ^ __                    
  |  |  | |  |  |  | |  |       |  | |  |  |  | |.           |  | |  |  |  | |                  
________________________________________________________________________________________________
___|__________|_5________|_1st__3________|____._____||__2nd__3________|_3__.___||_______________
___|_0________|_7________|_End__0________|____._3___||__End__0________|_0__.___||_______________
___|_0________|_5________|______0__0_____|______4__*||_______0__0_____|_0__.___||_______________
___|_0__0_0__0|_0__0_0__0|___________0___|_________*||____________0___|_0__.___||_______________
__3|__________|__________|______________2|__________||_______________2|_2__.___||_______________
___|__________|__________|______3__._____|_3__._____||_______3__._____|_3__.___||_______________


 


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